#Shortstops: All-American Triple

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Marisa Hernandez

The play is among the rarest of baseball rarities, no matter the league or era.

And on July 4, 1948, the Kenosha Comets of the AAGPBL wrote their names into history with three outs on one swing: A triple play.

During the sixth inning of the Kenosha vs. Grand Rapids contest that day, Comets fans “cheer[ed] the triumvirate of Captain Margaret Villa, shortstop”; Betty Fabac, second sacker, and Alice ‘Lefty’ Hohlmayer, first sacker, in a scintillating triple play maneuver illuminating defensive athletic skill comparable to the “immortal Tinker to Evers to Chance combination,” wrote McKenna, the Kenosha News sports editor.

Millie Deegan was on the mound for the Kenosha Comets, trying to hold on to her three-hitter.

But with runners on first and second, and no outs, and the threat of a Grand Rapids Chicks batting rally looming, tension was in the summer air.

Then, with the crack of Ruth Lessing’s bat a hard line fly destined for the outfield to score Connie Wisnewski and Inez Voyce.

Until, Villa rocketed back, “grabbed the fly with a back hand stab, and with perfect coordination and timing pegged the ball to Fabac at second while still whirling in the air; Wisnewski had a good lead for third and couldn’t get back to second.

After tagging the sack, Fabac fired deadly to Hohlmayer at first to trap Voyce who was far astray from the base.” wrote McKenna.

This astonishing triple play left the Chicks shocked, the crowd of 1,305 stunned, and finally emotions erupted regardless of what team fans supported because “realization struck that a unique development had been produced for the [AAGPBL] records.”

Spectators marvel at the precision and rarity which results in a triple play.

But it’s Moneyball statisticians who can help us understand the TP phenomenon after the field’s excitement dust settles.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), there have been 717 triple plays in Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1876.

This averages to approximately five TPs per season. Digging further into this statistical rarity, SABR counted a mere 57 MLB triple plays occurred between fielders positions 6-4-3 (shortstop to second baseman to first baseman) since 1876.

In comparison, the Chicks – with runners on first and second and no outs – had a 60.53 percent chance of scoring.

In honor of the AAGPBL’s 75th Anniversary, this headline ripped straight from the Kenosha (Wis.) Evening News in 1948, recently resurfaced from Audrey Wagner’s player scrapbook from the Hall of Fame Library.

Marisa Hernandez was a 2018 library intern the in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development.

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series