(If you like some cardboard with your baseball trivia, read the rest of our related posts here.)

Before September 20, 1992, Mickey Morandini was just another of the young players that the Philadelphia Phillies were grooming to be part of what they hoped would eventually turn into an exciting team.

Morandini was 26 years old and in his first full season as the Phils’ more-or-less starting second baseman, though he had appeared in 97 games at the keystone in 1991.

The results were mixed, though — his 13 stolen bases (thrown out twice) in ’91 slid to 8 (caught 3 times) in 1992, and he displayed little power. In the field, he provided roughly league-average defense with the occasional flashy play thrown in to tease the Philly phaithful.

Up until that point, my overriding impression of Morandini had been forged by his 1991 Score card. Camped inside a boring design that screamed early 1990s, the Rookie Prospect was presented to the collecting world through a wild photo that featured him in mid-air with all four limbs splayed open like a cat startled by a cucumber.

But even though one foot is over his head on the front of his Score rookie card, and even though he’s looking at the ground and away from the play, Morandini has somehow managed to spear the baseball. On the basis of that indelible image, I always thought of crazy-good defense when I thought of Morandini — which wasn’t often.

And that view was reinforced when Philadelphia visited Pittsburgh to play the Pirates as another lost season shuffled toward a lonely and gray Philly winter.

 

Mickey Morandini makes a diving catch, turns an unassisted triple play

 

In the bottom of the sixth inning on that September 20th, Andy Van Slyke led off with a single to left field, and Barry Bonds followed with a single through the left side of the infield.

Up to the plate, with a chance to be the hero of the moment, strode Jeff King. He worked the count full against Curt Schilling and then ripped a line drive up the middle — and right into the glove of Mickey Morandini.

Van Slyke took off for third at the crack of the bat, and Bonds bolted for second.

But Morandini made them pay for their eagerness …

He stepped on the bag at second to retire Van Slyke and then tagged Barry as the entire city of Pittsburgh seemed to convene at the keystone.

It was an unassisted triple play, the first one in the Major Leagues in more than 24 years and only the ninth of the modern era. Alas, even with Mickey’s heroics, the Phillies couldn’t stop the Pirates, who won the game 3-2 en route to their third NL East championship in as many years.

Morandini’s feat did seem to inspire confidence in his contemporary infielders, or maybe it just made the baseball gods realize how stingy they had been with the unassisted triple play over the years.

Whatever … there would be six more of these rare gems turned in by 2009.

Here, then, are all of the diamond dudes to pull off an unassisted triple play for a Major League team since 1900, along with some of their baseball cards.

Because, you know, everything goes better with a little cardboard.

 

Ne1911 Gold Borders (Hindu) Neal Ballal Ball

Date: July 19, 1909

Position: Shortstop

Team: Cleveland Naps

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Inning: 2nd

Play:  Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

1977-79 Sportscaster Bill Wambsganss

 

Bill Wambsganss

Date: October 10, 1920

Position: Second baseman

Team: Cleveland Indians

Opponent: Brooklyn Robins

Inning: 5th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

1919-21 W514 George Burns

George Burns

Date: September 14, 1923

Position: First baseman

Team: Boston Red Sox

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Inning: 2nd

Play: Caught line drive, tagged runner, touched 2nd.

 

1923-24 Exhibits W461 Ernie Padgett

Ernie Padgett

Date: October 6, 1923

Position: Shortstop

Team: Boston Braves

Opponent:  Philadelphia Phillies

Inning: 4th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

1933 Goudey Glenn Wright

Glenn Wright

Date: May 7, 1925

Position: Shortstop

Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Opponent:  St. Louis Cardinals

Inning: 9th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

 

Jimmy Cooney1984 Brickhouse Jimmy Cooney

Date: May 30, 1927

Position: Shortstop

Team: Chicago Cubs

Opponent:  Pittsburgh Pirates

Inning: 4th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

1991 Sporting News Conlon Johnny Neun

Johnny Neun

Date: May 31, 1927

Position: First baseman

Team:  Detroit Tigers

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Inning: 9th

Play: Caught line drive, tagged runner, beat returning runner to 2nd.

 

 

 

Ron Hansen1961 Topps Ron Hansen

Date: July 30, 1968

Position: Shortstop

Team: Washington Senators

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Inning: 1st

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

 

Mickey Morandini1991 Score Mickey Morandini

Date: September 20, 1992

Position:  Second baseman

Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Opponent: Pittsburgh Pirates

Inning: 6th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

 

John Valentin1990 Best John Valentin

Date:  July 8, 1994

Position: Shortstop

Team:  Boston Red Sox

Opponent: Seattle Mariners

Inning: 6th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

1989 Topps Randy Velarde

Randy Velarde

Date: May 29, 2000

Position: Second baseman

Team: Oakland Athletics

Opponent: New York Yankees

Inning: 6th

Play: Caught line drive, tagged runner, touched 2nd.

 

 

 

Rafa2000 Stadium Club Rafael Furcalel Furcal

Date: August 10, 2003

Position: Shortstop

Team: Atlanta Braves

Opponent: St. Louis Cardinals

Inning: 5th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

 

Troy Tulowitzki2012 Topps Heritage Troy Tulowitzki

Date: April 29, 2007

Position: Shortstop

Team: Colorado Rockies

Opponent: Atlanta Braves

Inning: 7th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

 

Asdrúbal Ca2015 Topps Heritage Asdrubal Cabrerabrera

Date: May 12, 2008

Position: Second baseman

Team: Cleveland Indians

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Inning: 5th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.

 

 

 

Eric Bruntlett2008 Upper Deck World Series Eric Bruntlett

Date: August 23, 2009

Position: Second baseman

Team: Philadelphia Phillies

Opponent: New York Mets

Inning: 9th

Play: Caught line drive, touched 2nd, tagged runner.