June 2, 1958 may not go down as a day of infamy in Baltimore Orioles lore, but the day marks Game 1 of an odd defensive streak.
Unfortunate for Robinson, the triple plays weren’t his defensive doing, but were defensively begun by his offense.
Sixty-two years ago on this day, the Orioles were playing the Washington Senators at Memorial Stadium. At the time, both teams had a losing record. Robinson was 21 years old and in his fourth season with the O’s.
Triple Play #1
That day, he batted sixth and – of course – played third base. He went 2-4 on the day and had a double. But the most dubious part of the game was the triple play he hit into in the sixth inning. At the time, Lenny Green was on second base after a single to center field, and Jim Marshall was on first after a walk. Robinson hit a line drive to the short stop – Rocky Bridges – who got the double play by stepping on second, then assisted in the triple play by throwing out Marshall at first.
That was the beginning of an unfortunate record that belongs to one of the O’s favorite sons. The game also marked a 1-2 loss for the O’s.
Robinson went on to hit into three more during his career. He owns the record of being the catalyst for four triple plays during his career. According to an article from MLB.com, the young Orioles hit into an unbelievable number of triple plays under the tutelage of Earl Weaver.
“[T]he Orioles hit into 12 triples plays, more than any other team, in their first 15 seasons playing in Baltimore (1954-68). And beginning with Weaver’s rookie season in the dugout and running through Monday night, their opponents produced merely five.”
Robinson owns four of those, and he hit into them in the first 10 years of his 23-year career.
Triple Play #2
His second triple play also against the Senators. On September 10, 1964, he was batting fourth behind Boog Powell at D.C. Stadium. In the fifth, he faced Jim Hannan with the bases loaded, and no outs. He hit grounded out to the shortstop, and Jerry Adair scored from third. But the rest of the play was quite a shocker, as it went 6-6-4-3-2. The Senators threw out Powell at second and Robinson at first. The most exciting part of the play involved Luis Aparicio who began the play on second; he was thrown out at home. Sadly, Robinson did not earn an RBI on that debacle. The Orioles did win the game 12-5.
Fortunately for Robinson, the triple play wasn’t held against him as he went on to win the MVP. He also earned a Gold Glove Award and was named an All Star.