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The story of the Yankees' pitcher who balked four times in one game

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On May 3, 1950, Vic Raschi couldn't stop balking.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There were 141 balks committed in the 2015 season. They're not extremely rare, but they're also not something that happens every game. However, on May 3, 1950, balks were plentiful.

Vic Raschi was a four-time All-Star pitcher for the Yankees who received MVP votes in five seasons. He was part of the Pinstripe Alley Top 100 Yankees series and he was a good pitcher. In 1950, Raschi would have one of his All-Star seasons. On May 3, 1950, he made his third start of the season. The Yankees were off to a 6-4 start in a season that would end with a World Series win.

In the first inning of the May 3rd game against the White Sox, Raschi gave up a lead-off single to Herb Adams. After picking him off, Raschi allowed a single to Luke Appling. During the next at bat, Raschi balked, moving Appling into scoring position. That wouldn't come back to hurt him, however. Raschi got Cass Michael to fly out.

In the second inning, Raschi allowed a one-out walk to Hank Majeski. During the next at bat, he proceeded to balk. He then walked Gordon Goldsberry. During the next at bat, he proceeded to balk. Raschi had walked and balked two runners into scoring position. After issuing another walk to load the bases, Raschi struck out the next two batters and got out of it.

Two innings later, Goldsberry and Phil Masi reached on a error and a single respectively, with Goldsberry moving to third on the single. During the next at bat, Raschi balked. That one would score a run and gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead. In the course of one game, Vic Raschi balked four times. This one game against the White Sox accounts for four of the eight times Raschi balked in his entire career.

None of the runners Raschi balked up a base was a massive stolen base threat. Phil Masi had the most career steals of any of them with 45. But by 1950, he was a 34-year-old catcher, so he probably wasn't trying to steal. I can only assume the umpires were really keyed in on watching what Raschi was doing, as he was reportedly bothered by a new rule requiring "a one-second stop before delivery with men on base." Either that, or he just had some really bad luck that day.

Despite the four balks, combined with ten hits and four walks allowed by Raschi, the Yankees actually won the game. Raschi somehow kept the White Sox to just three runs, despite all those baserunners. The Yankees scored four runs and won the game 4-3, thanks mostly to three RBI from Phil Rizzuto.

Raschi's four balks in one game is part of a seven-way tie for second place. In first is Bob Shaw, who balked five times in a game in 1963. Poor guy.

Vic Raschi was part of six World Series-winning teams. He had a very sucessful baseball career. But on May 3, 1950, he couldn't stop balking.

Sources

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA195005030.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/raschvi01.shtml

All data courtesy of the Baseball-Reference Play Index