The Worst Play in History

It was October 7, 1998 at the American League Championship series. Yankee stadium, top of the twelfth. The Yankees had battled the Indians to a 1-to-1 deadlock. Pinch-runner Enrique Wilson was on first, and there were no outs for Cleveland.

Travis Fryman laid down a bunt on the first base line. First baseman Tino Martinez dashed forward to field the ball and toss it to second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who came over second to cover first.

However, Martinez’ throw hit Fryman in the back just before he reached the bag. The ball ricocheted off the runner and stopped in the infield dirt just behind Knoblauch.

Now, the rule in baseball is simple. If you hit a runner with the ball, he has to be within the base path. Big leaguers know this, but they will often cheat to the inside of the base path on first so that the infielder can’t make a clean throw. This is illegal and usually results in an out.

Knoblauch thought Fryman cheated to the inside and interfered with the throw, so when the umpire called him safe, Knoblauch lost his cool. Instead of picking up the ball and ending the play, Knoblauch passionately disputed the call with the ump.

Fryman realized the ball was just lying there in the dirt, so he shrugged and started for the second base. Enrique Wilson figured out what was going on and also started running.

The fans were shouting, “Pick up the ball!”

The coaches were yelling, “Pick up the ball!”

The other players were torn between abandoning their posts and racing in to pick up Knoblauch’s slack.

Fryman was rounding third when Knoblauch finally came to his senses, but It was too late. Wilson was half running, half stumbling his way down the final stretch to the plate. He beat the throw and scored the run.

That episode blew open the entire game, and the Indians wound up clobbering the Yanks 4 – 1.

Chuck Knoblauch is a great baseball player. But for a brief moment, that skilled professional athlete lost his focus. It’s a humorous and devastating reminder to us all: Our job isn’t to argue the rules, our job is to play the game. Trust the Lord. Serve the lord. Stay faithful at your position.

Psalm 37 is one of my favorites.

(A Psalm of David.) Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

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