This inside-the-park homer by Deion Sanders is hard to believe
By Dan Holmes September 5, 2019
Deion Sanders is in one sports Hall of Fame: the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. But his thrilling highlight reel of baseball plays makes you wonder if he could have achieved Hall of Fame status in that sport too.
An inside-the-park home run is rare, has been rare for many years. Most homers in today’s game fly over the fence. But the rare few that bounce around the playing field while a speedy runner circles the bases, those are exciting moments.
Look at this play by Deion Sanders from 1990 when he was with the Yankees:
What stands out about this play is the normal type of hit it was. Sanders lined a single to right-center field, toward the gap. Center fielder Bo Jackson made the decision to dive for it. Bad idea. The baseball soared out of reach and went to the warning track. With Sanders’ speed, the only question was whether he would score or score standing up.
But the Royals did a nice job of relaying the ball, and Deion stuttered as he rounded third base. When he cam home, the throw was up the third base line, and Sanders decided to put his football skills to work, leaping over the catcher, Mike “Spanky” Macfarlane.
Now, Deion might have been out on this play. It’s possible. He had to go back to touch the plate, and Macfarlane met him there, though he seems to fumble with the tag. A scrum ensued, like a scramble to get a loose football, and in the mind of the home plate umpire, Deion emerged victorious. Prime Time, indeed.
Interesting notes about this game:
Bo Jackson, who knew something about football, hit three homers in this game, leading the Royals to a 10-7 victory. Bo was injured trying to catch Deion’s drive, and had to leave the game with an injury.
The man who allowed the Sanders inside-the-park homer was Mel Stottlemyre, and he was pitching his first inning in the major leagues. The date was July 17, 1990. Stottlemyre was the son of Mel Stottleyre Sr., the former Yankee pitching star. This was the only time Mel Jr. ever pitched in Yankee Stadium, and he allowed three runs in one inning of work.
Hall of Famer George Brett played in this game. He had two hits, was walked three times, and scored four runs.
Dan Holmes is an author and baseball historian. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Major League Baseball. He once defeated George Brett in Texas Hold Em poker and faced Phil Niekro's knuckleball. He has two daughters and he writes regularly about baseball and many other topics.