Back on this day 31 years ago, there was an inning full of selflessness in Anaheim. Selflessness that has been matched, but never bettered in American League play. For on this day, in the 8th inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers, the California Angels sacrificed not once, not twice, but thrice!
The Angels and Tigers were meeting in a rare Sunday night game in Anaheim at the time. The Angels had scheduled the game at night so as not to compete head-to-head with the Dodgers who had a home game (which was Oldtimers Day). The Angels had mad the series into a Saturday-Saturday-Monday affair so they would only have two conflicts with the Dodgers and had a stretch of three straight scheduled off days leading into the series.
California manager Norm Sherry started Frank Tanana and Detroit manager Ralph Houk called on Fernando Arroyo.
The Angels, who made a splash in the new free agent market, were starting Don Baylor at 1B (he was batting .206), Joe Rudi in left field (.264), and Bobby Grich at shortstop (.241). The team was 24-24, but would finish 74-88 and Sherry would be replaced by Dave Garcia.
California was enjoying a 4-1 lead going to the bottom, thanks to a 3-run sixth, which saw Houk's ejection after arguing a balk call against reliever Jim Crawford.
Bobby Bonds led off the 8th with a walk. Third baseman Dave Chalk followed with a bunt back to the mound. Crawford tried to force Bonds at second, but was late. Chalk was given a sacrifice and was ruled safe on a fielder's choice.
Ron Jackson (the less successful R. Jackson in the AL in 1977) came up next and he sacrificed and he was out 1-4. That brought up Grich who was intentionally walked to load the bases for catcher Terry Humphrey.
With the bases loaded against a struggling pitcher, Sherry made the logical call: the bases-loaded squeeze. Humphrey got the bunt down, Bonds scored and Chalk and Grich moved up a base.
Center fielder Gil Flores was up next and he got an intentional walk, Crawford was finally able to get out of the inning (and give the Angels an at bat!) by getting second baseman Jerry Remy to ground out to second.
There have actually been 10 games in total in the AL where a team has sacrificed 3 times in one inning. It was last done by the Twins against the Brewers on July 26, 1991. That inning featured a SAC-E1, a SAC-FC, and a plain old SAC.
However, the Sporting News Record Book recognizes an NL game that had FOUR sacrifices in one inning. The Pittsburgh Pirates are credited with four sacrifices in the 8th inning of a 5-2 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers on May 21, 1913. I couldn't find a play-by-play, but the Dodgers made at least three errors in the game and presumably that they came during the 3-run 8th inning by the Pirates.