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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tribe: Is Asdrubal Cabrera's triple-play ball gone forever?

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2008 at 8:39 AM

asdrubal.jpg
After recording a historic triple play, Cabrera flipped the ball into the stands for some lucky fan to later lose in the backyard.
When Asdrubal Cabrera made history last week by recording only the 14th unassisted triple play in big league history, he made one error. He tossed the ball into the stands without thinking about the historical importance of such an artifact. The man who caught the ball contacted the Indians to get it authenticated, which they won’t do once a ball leaves the field and enters the stands (unless it is specially marked, like the Bonds home run chase balls). ... Whether the historic items ends up on Ebay or some guy’s mantle is yet to be seen. Todd Helton made the same error in judgment as Cabrera last year when he tossed the ball caught by Troy Tulowitzki for the 13th unassisted triple play in history into the stands. But, Tulowitzki had the ball returned to him by the fan who caught it in exchange for an autographed game-used bat. Curious about such relics that get lost in history, I contacted Tom Shieber, senior curator for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He says that the hall has four of the unassisted triple play balls in existence: Bill Wambsganss' from the 1920 World Series, Johnny Neun's from 1927, Ron Hansen's from 1968, and Randy Velarde's from 2000. They have gloves, bats, tickets, etc. from others. Although the ball wasn’t authenticated, the hall would be interested in the item if whoever caught it wanted to donate it. Although, in cases like this, they would need to be absolutely certain of its history to accept it. “In the case of this particular ball, like all other artifacts that come our way, we would need to be convinced that it is what it purports to be,” said Shieber. Asked what his feelings were when he learned that Cabrera had flipped the ball into the stands, Shieber said, “As I recall, Troy Tulowitzki also tossed his unassisted triple play ball into the stands [It was actually Helton). I was surprised when that happened and was similarly surprised when it happened again with Asdrubal Cabrera. Then again, I'm a baseball historian. I find these (and other) baseball events to be of interest. These guys are professional ballplayers. Maybe they do not. Who am I to tell them what they should or should not do?” The Indians are still awaiting word from Asdrubal Cabrera as to the items from that play (jersey, ball, etc.) that he would like to send to the Baseball Hall of Fame. – Vince the Polack
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