Epic Games in Blue Jays History: Buck Martinez Completes a Double Play on a Broken Leg

Buck Martinez

In honour of the long overdue of Buck Martinez to the broadcast booth, I’d like to bring back the memory of the most spectacular double play ever made in major league baseball history. It was July 9, 1985 in vs. Seattle at the Kingdome.

The play by play reads like this:

MARINERS 3RD: Bradley singled; Davis flied out to center; Filer
balked [Bradley to second]; G. Thomas singled to right [Bradley
out at home (right to catcher), G. Thomas out at home (catcher
to left to catcher)]; Martinez breaks ankle on collision at
plate; Thomas takes 3b on throw; Martinez (on ground) throws
into lf; Bell throws home and Martinez makes catch and tag while
seated
;

The ankle turned out to be dislocated to go along with a fractured leg.  To go beyond the boxscore, the play really went down like this: Buck  took a throw from Jesse Barfield in RF and blocked the plate. Phil Bradley, trying to score from third,  slid into him breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle.

Buck then saw his old friend Gorman Thomas from their Milwaukee playing days (the guy who stroked a single to Barfield in the first place) taking third base and tried to throw the ball to Garth Iorg but the ball sailed into left field where George bell picked the ball up and threw a strike to the sitting Buck. Meanwhile Thomas - seeing his friend in serious trouble –  rather than have a collision at the plate, moved around Buck and eased up.

As a result Buck tagged him for an easy out. A class play by Thomas in a sport where ususally no inch is given - not even for a friend. Score that a 9-2-7-2 double play.

Update: We now have the footage! See below.

After the play Jimy Williams approached Buck and said “I don’t know how you did it, Buck, but that was the greatest play I’ve ever seen.”  When Buck was placed on the stretcher, George Bell took an end of it and insisted on carrying his “Boockie”, as he called Buck, into the clubhouse. “I’ll carry him, I’ll carry him,” he was saying.

Gorman Thomas came to check in on him right away.  “Nice going Martinez, you got me booed! They booed me ’cause I didn’t slide!” Then he asked Buck if he was okay.  Gorman Thomas was a true friend and stayed with Buck until the ambulance arrived.

buckmartinezBuck Martinez

Martinez never fully recovered from the broken leg and dislocated ankle and I would argue as Toronto Blue Jays fans we are the better for it.  Buck worked as a broadcaster for the Blue Jays until 2000 when he took over from Jim Fregosi as the club’s manager.  He also has written two books: From Worst to First, about Toronto’s first division title in 1985, and The Last Out, about his final season as a player.

Buck Martinez

Buck MartinezJohn Gibbons Buck Martinez

has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (@callumhughson)

  • Tight PP

    Was there an error on his throw to the outfield?

    • Regan

      Because Thomas never advanced a base on the throw by Martinez no error can be given.

  • http://www.mopupduty.com Callum

    No error was charged to Martinez.

  • http://none Richard Maloney

    Jays Fans, and Baseball Fans Everywhere:

    Simply the best, toughest play I have ever seen in a life of watching baseball. If they made a movie of it, I would cast John Wayne as Buck Martinez.

    • Joe Bear

      I would cast Roger Dorn.

  • mathesond

    I remember hearing this on the radio, this is the first time I’ve actually seen the footage. Could have done without the cutaways to the fans during the play, though :)

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  • beriam

    hmm i’ve seen better. it’s plays like this that piss me off because throughout his entire career buck martinez was a terrible player, than he breaks his ankle and with the broken ankle he catches a baseball and tags the runner out and now everyone remembers that play but not how bad of a baseball player he was.

    • Marilyn

      Buck is not only a great guy, but a great player, and sportscaster. Let’s see you perform.

    • Kevin Martinez

      oh and beriam, I’d love to see you take a shot like that and not only not cry like a little bitch but have the courage and presence of mind to try and get the runner out at third. You’re probably some fat f*ck hating on everyone while you sit in your compute chair with chip crums all over yourself.

      • http://www.twitter.com/callumhughson Callum Hughson

        I love this.

  • Kevin Martinez

    I just wanted to say that I really appriciate this whole thing. I’m Buck’s nephew and just happened to be looking his play up for old times sake when I saw this. Good job. Very much appriciated.

  • Benny

    Kevin, nice retort! I actually forgot about this play until it came up from a teammate as the greatest play he’d ever seen, so I had to look it up again. You gotta respect a guy that knows that the play isn’t over until it’s over. It may be true that not many guys, then and now, would be able to “Buck Up” like that and keep “playing baseball” even when he’s down…true grit for sure!

  • Joe Haines

    I remember lisening to Dave Niehaus on the radio, when I lived in the NW, yelling and and saying how he was always amazed how baseball could give such great moments during his play by play of this. I couldn’t wait to watch it on tv. The greatest play I have seeen for sure. It is the first one I think of when i go back over those years of the Mariners in my mind.

    • One Cousin

      Having seen this when it happened, I was amazed all over to relive it again. Buck wasn’t the worst baseball player by any means, and wasn’t the best either. But he was a real team player and gave his best. There’s not many players that would attempt that play after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle, still having the presence of mind to try and make the throw to 3rd, take the throw from left field and make the tag. So, Beriam, take that … This guy played for Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Toronto, how bad could he have been? These players aren’t all “All Stars” or “World Series” material. They’re just “normal guys who play professional baseball”. Then there are the “experts’ like you. (what league did you play in?)
      There, I feel better….

  • Herky Jerky

    That was badass.