By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
A player on a Gardendale youth baseball team has performed what is generally regarded as the rarest play in baseball.
Coleman Maldonado, age 6, who plays shortstop for the Rangers in Gardendale’s Farm League for 5- and 6-year-olds, completed an unassisted triple play on Saturday in their game against the Yankees.
With runners on first and second bases in the first inning, the third batter in the Yankee lineup hit a line drive toward Maldonado. He caught the ball on the fly to put the batter out, then stepped on the second-base bag to force out the runner returning to the base. The runner from first had not yet turned back, and Maldonado tagged him for the third out.
“This kid will be one to watch for years to come,” said Maldonado’s coach, Jeff Graham. “He’s a true raw talent. He knew exactly what to do with the ball on that play.”
No stats are kept on unassisted triple plays in youth baseball. In Major League Baseball, there have only been 15 turned since 1900, making the play rarer than a perfect game for a pitcher, or a player hitting four home runs in a game.
The last unassisted triple play in the majors was in 2009 by Eric Bruntlett of Philadelphia. Rafael Furcal of the Braves turned one in 2003.