Baseball gets a bad rap because it’s no longer the “cool” sport to root for, because it’s a sophisticated sport that doesn’t involve smashing someone else’s face in. What’s more, it doesn’t have masculine positions to play, like the “tight end.”
But what people don’t take into account is that baseball players have to be just as in shape as any other athlete, and in some cases, they’re more conditioned than anyone else. In fact, we want to see those beefy football players try to pull off some of these stunts…
5. Ozzie Smith
Nicknamed “The Wizard,” Ozzie Smith is considered one of the best defensive players in history. Amassing 13 Gold Gloves and 15 All Star appearances over an 18 year career, Smith earned himself a spot in the Hall of Fame and had his number retired by the St. Louis Cardinals.
He’s remembered best for his diving stops at shortstop, seemingly spending half his career eating dirt, and also for his walk off home run in the 1985 NLCS, the call of which by Jack Buck is acknowledged as one of the greatest broadcasting moments of all time. But what sets Ozzie apart from all the other Hall of Fame shortstops was what was lovingly dubbed “The Flip.”
Every game from his rookie season until he retired, as he ran out to his position to start the game, he performed a backflip, much to the delight of the home crowd. Keep in mind that he was still doing this when he was 40, past the age when some athletes are able to put on a uniform without hurting themselves, this guy was catching air. And what’s more, he pulled it off every time, without falling on his ass.
4. Rodney McCray
By all accounts, Rodney McCray had a rather minor career in baseball. He spent three years in the majors, mostly bouncing between levels of the minor leagues. However, they say everyone has their day in the sun, and McCray’s came on May 21, 1991, at Civic Stadium in Portland. McCray was playing in the outfield for the visiting Vancouver Canadians when Chip Hale hit a fly ball deep. McCray chased after it, so focused on the ball that he wasn’t watching where he was going, and crashed right through the outfield wall.
McCray was unharmed by the collision, although he didn’t catch the ball. The play propelled him to instant stardom, albeit in the form of “that crazy dude that ran through a wall.” It was shown on newsreels and on Sportscenter a thousand times throughout the rest of the year, and continues to be shown on blooper reels 20 years later. The video was even selected for preservation by the Hall of Fame, on their Blooper reel. As for McCray, he became a coach, and on 2006, had his seminal moment preserved in the best way baseball knows how: a bobblehead.
3. Brian Kownacki
On April 20, 2010, Fordham was playing a game against Iona, with Iona leading 9-1. Brian Kownacki, a sophomore shortstop, was brought in to pinch hit, and was hit on the wrist. Fast forward to the 8th inning, one of the strangest innings in the annals of baseball. Fordham scored 11 runs, and Kownacki was hit on the shoulder in both his at bats this inning. But the awesome was yet to come. With the bases loaded, the next Fordham batter hit a line drive up the middle for a single that was bobbled by the center fielder. First one run, then two runs scored. Now Kownacki was waved around third, but he probably shouldn’t have done that, because the center fielder recovered, and threw the ball to the catcher well before Kownacki got there. By all accounts, they had him dead to rights.
Now, Kownacki had three choices here. He could try to go back to third and be caught in a rundown, hopefully causing them to throw the ball away, but more than likely be tagged out, try to bowl over the catcher in a home plate collision and make him drop the ball, which might not work and could get somebody hurt, or the option he ended up picking: defy gravity.
Seemingly out of nowhere, he up and flew over the catcher, pulling a reverse Ozzie and coming down on the other side of the stunned receiver, tagging home plate and scoring. The opposing manager tried to argue, but Kownacki hadn’t gone outside the basepath, interfered with the other team in any way, and there was no rule against players sprouting wings at crucial moments. Fordham went on to win in comeback fashion, 12-9, but it did more than anyone in attendance could imagine. The video clip was sent to ESPN, where it immediately made Sportscenter’s Top Plays, and it circulated around the Internet, eventually garnering Kowlacki an ESPY for “Outstanding Sports Moment.” There’s no word yet on possible Barnum and Bailey’s Trapeze artist contract possibilities.
2. Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson was one of the great pure athletes of the past 25 years. He won the Heisman Trophy as a running back at Auburn. He won state competitions in the 100 meter dash while in High school, and batted .401 as a college baseball player. He was drafted by the Buccaneers, and he seemed destined for a long football career. However, he was angry at Tampa for deliberately sabotaging his college eligibility by taking him on a private jet, a violation of NCAA rules, so, he signed with the Kansas City Royals to play baseball instead.
The very next year, he made headlines by signing a deal with the Raiders, that would allow him to play both baseball and football at the same time. He made further headlines by becoming the first man to make All Star teams in two different major sports. Some of his more memorable antics included breaking bats over his knee after a strikeout, or occasionally, over his head:
or ploughing over opposing defenders that dared to trash talk about him before the game:
But his most acrobatic play came in a Kansas City uniform. On July 11, 1990, he ran down a fly ball to deep center only a couple of steps from the wall. He knew he wouldn’t be able to slow down in time to avoid colliding with the wall, so instead, he simply ran up it, like he was Spiderman. He probably went 5 feet up the wall before jumping down safely.
An injury on the football field cut short his career in both sports, but for a three or four year period, one of the premier players of both MLB and NFL was Bo Jackson.
1. Jim Edmonds
Most of you have probably seen Willie Mays’ famous catch in the 1954 World Series, where he ran all the way back to run down a ball with an over the shoulder catch, making it look easy in the process.
What if I told you that wasn’t the most amazing catch in the history of baseball? That honor goes to Jim Edmonds, a star defensive outfielder who pulled off the Mays style over the shoulder catch, but unlike Mays, Edmonds had to headlong dive for the ball without knowing exactly where it was.
But, it was just another day’s work for the 8 time Gold Glove winner. He did this sort of thing all the time. Like this catch, which you would think is the same as the other one if he wasn’t wearing a different uniform.
Here he is rolling around after another diving catch:
Or perhaps your flavor is more “robbing someone of a home run while at the same time recording the final out of the game.”
In conclusion, Jim Edmonds may in fact be Superman, and more probably, should be Robert Downey Jrs stunt double in his next movie. After all, he certainly looks like him.
By Ben Adelman