In honor of “Leap Day,” I have created a short list of the “Greatest Leaps” in baseball history. The only qualification is either a name or a singular play. They are in no particular order. Feel free to contact me with any others I might have missed: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @okcredhawksjp.
Braves Outfielder Otis Nixon
Atlanta Braves fans simply call this "The Catch." On July 25, 1992 with the Braves leading Pittsburgh 1-0 in the top of the 9th inning, Otis Nixon robbed the Pirates Andy Van Slyke of what would have been a go-ahead, two-run home run.
Cardinals Infielder Ozzie Smith
The "Wizard" Ozzie Smith. I remember this running in slow motion during the closing credits right after Mel Allen said, "We'll see you next week on This Week in Baseball."
The Brothers Leiper
Dave Leiper pitched eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Athletics, Padres, Expos and Phillies. He is probably best remembered as the pitcher who returned to the Major Leagues following open heart surgery to correct Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, an electrical disorder that causes rapid heart rate.
Dave's younger brother Tim Leiper was an infielder for 12 Minor League seasons, and managed for 11 Minor League seasons. He was an assistant coach for Team Canada when they won the gold medal in the PanAm Games in Guadalajara, Mexico last fall. Leiper is now the roving infield coordinator for the Miami Marlins.
Kirby Puckett against the glass at the Metrodome. Incredible play in an incredible series.
Tug McGraw closed out the 1980 World Series. Toes on the ground in this photo, but it definitely counts.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Ken Griffey, Jr. fractured his wrist on this play in May, missing most of the 1995 season. He returned to the lineup in August, and the Mariners overtook the California Angels for the AL West. Later the Mariners beat the Yankees in the ALDS after trailing two games to none in a best-of-five series.
(UPDATED 2/29, 10:55 a.m.)
Emailed leaps from Stu–
- Yankees’ Lou Pinella in 1977 World Series taking a home run away from Dodgers’ Ron Cey
- Torii Hunter leaping catch robbed Barry Bonds of home run in first inning of 2002 All-Star Game
(UPDATED 3/2, 9:15 a.m.)
Mets outfielder Endy Chavez made this leaping snow-cone catch in the sixth inning of Game 7 in the 2006 NLCS, robbing Scott Rolen of what would have been a two-run home run, preserving a 1-1 tie. Yadier Molina hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning for St. Louis, giving the Cardinals the National League flag.
Roberto Clemente. 1962. Still exciting to watch.
Happy Leap Day!