This day in baseball: Honus Wagner steals his way around the bases

In the second game of a double header against the Cubs on May 2, 1909, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Honus Wagner stole his way around the bases. After reaching first on a fielder’s choice, Wagner proceeded to steal second, and then third base. On Ed Reulbach’s third pitch to Bill Abstein, Wagner took a long lead off third base. According to Chicago Tribune sportswriter Sy Sanborn, the play unfolded as follows:

Wagner timed his dash splendidly and before Bid Ed could untangle his waving arms and legs, to say nothing of his wits, he was within a jump of the pan. With that final jump he cleared the remaining distance and actually hit the plate before the ball left Reulbach’s hand. It was the cleanest, most unquestioned steal of home … ever yet accomplished.

The Pirates went on to win the game, 6-0.

Honus Wagner in 1911 (Library of Congress)

2 thoughts on “This day in baseball: Honus Wagner steals his way around the bases

  1. What i’m about to say might not make sense, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Maybe you can clear it up. When you hit a homer, you get credited with 4 total bases and that does wonders for one’s slugging percentage. Wagner’s three steals kind of served the same purpose and yet, if I have this right, he only gets credited with three steals and a run scored.

    1. This makes sense, and it’s how I understand it as well. I’m pretty sure total bases is purely a hitting statistic, which, as you mention, impacts the slugging percentage. I agree that Wagner’s feat had the same result — and required more work on his part! Perhaps baseball should come up with a new name for the total bases stat. In situations like this one, it does seem to screw the player over to not count stolen bases.

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