This just in

On Yale & Yale alumni.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

An inning for the record books: UPDATED

Red Sox backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway ’09 has only been in the big leagues since August 2011, but already the Yale superstar is in the Major League Baseball record books. Alas, it is not an entry Lavarnway would want his name on.

Tonight, in a game against the Houston Astros, Lavarnway was called on to catch Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright. The knuckleball, once described as a “butterfly on steroids,” can be murder on catchers—even though broadcaster and former major league catcher Bob Uecker jokingly called it “the easiest pitch to catch. Wait’ll it stops rolling, then go to the backstop to pick it up.”

Lavarnway would concur. In the first inning, four knuckleballs eluded his oversized glove. The technical term for this gaffe is a passed ball, and four in one inning ties a record unwillingly owned in the modern era by two catchers: Texas backstop Geno Petralli, attempting unsuccessfully to catch knuckleballer Charlie Hough in 1987; and New York Giants catcher Ray Katt, trying and failing to handle the knuckleballs of Hoyt Wilhelm in 1954.

For Lavarnway, the exercise in futility was mercifully short-lived. By the second inning, knuckleballer Wright was on the bench—replaced by a pitcher throwing more conventional fare that Lavarnway could handle.


Setting a record for futility is definitely something that can get inside the head of a young athlete and lead to an off-night—even an off-career.  And anyone who has ever been a Red Sox fan would not be faulted for seeing the four passed balls that Ryan Lavarnway was charged with in the first inning as auguring a disaster for the Boston team, even though it is playing splendidly and currently resides in first place in the American League East.

Fear not.

Lavarnway did strike out his first two times at bat, and his inability to catch Steven Wright’s knuckleball contributed to Houston’s taking a 3-0 lead in the first. The margin would reach 5-0 in the second. But the star Yale catcher started to right his personal ship by throwing out an Astros runner trying to steal third in the fourth inning, and in the fifth frame, Lavarnway wiped out any bitter memory he might have been carrying by smacking a double in the fifth to score two and give the Sox an 8-7 lead, a lead they would not relinquish in a slugfest that ended with Boston on top, 15-10.

Filed under Ryan Lavarnway, baseball, Red Sox
The comment period has expired.