Former Major Leaguer Who Completed Unassisted Triple Play Dead at 89
BALTIMORE (AP) _ Former major league infielder and manager Johnny Neun, one of only nine players to execute an unassisted triple play, died Wednesday. He was 89.
Neun, who played with Ty Cobb as a Detroit Tiger, died of cancer of the pancreas at Union Memorial Hospital, officials said.
Neunn, a Baltimore native, spent four years with the Detroit Tigers and ended his major-league career with the Boston Braves in 1931 with a lifetime batting average of .289.
He later managed for 12 years in the New York Yankees farm system, took over as Yankees manager temporarily in 1946 and managed the Cincinnati Reds in 1947 and 1948.
Neun executed his game-ending triple play on May 31, 1927, in Detroit when he was playing first base for the Tigers against the Cleveland Indians.
Detroit held a one-run lead in the top of the ninth when the first two Cleveland batters - Glen Myatt and Charley Jamieson - reached base. Homer Summa was at bat.
″Then, he (Summa) hit a line drive straight at me, and I caught it for the first out,″ Neun said in an interview with The (Baltimore) Sun in 1964.
″Jamieson had started from first to second and was right in front of me, so I tagged him. Two out.
″I looked over and saw that Myatt was racing for third, apparently thinking Summa had got a hit. I ran over and touched second base, and the game was over,″ Neun said.
After managing the Reds, Neunn returned to the Yankees, and spent 35 years with the organization, becoming a scout and player-development specialist for the team.
″For 16 years, I wrote the book on the Yankees’ World Series opponent,″ Neun said in a 1987 interview with The Evening Sun.
″I was a part of a team that did the scouting, but I actually wrote the book because, as an ex-sportswriter, I was the only one who knew how to use a typewriter,″ he said.
According to another version of the triple-play story, the Tigers’ second baseman, Rabbit Tavener, shouted at Neun as he ran toward second, urging Neun to throw him the ball for an easier third out.
″No,″ Neun is said to have replied, ″I’m running into the Hall of Fame.″
Neun later said he didn’t remember whether he made the remark.
Neun scouted for the Milwaukee Brewers up until last year.
″His ability to think in today’s version of the game is the most interesting thing about him,″ said Bruce Manno, the Brewers farm director, in 1983. ″It’s amazing and rare, how his outlook has changed along with baseball.″
Neun’s wife, the former Harminia Wareheim, died in 1975. He is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services are to be held Saturday.