July 27, 1988: When the Yankees' Tommy John made three errors on one play

Had the Will Ferrell “that escalated quickly” meme been around in the ’80s, it certainly would’ve been used the night of July 27, 1988. That’s the night Yankees pitcher Tommy John somehow committed three errors on a single play against the Brewers. Watch the video, then we’ll discuss.

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To break it down:

The Brewers had a runner at first, Jim Gantner, with Jeffrey Leonard at the plate.

Error No. 1 comes as Leonard taps weakly back to John, who can’t field it cleanly. This is an arguable error, but we can assume that the brief bobble made the difference between safe and out in the official scorer’s mind.

Error No. 2 comes as John tries to throw Leonard out at first, but uncorks a wild throw past first baseman Don Mattingly and into right field.

Error No. 3 happens when John, for some reason, cuts off a strong throw from right fielder Dave Winfield and tries to nab Gantner at the plate. But his throw sails wild and into the Brewers’ dugout, which also allows Leonard, who by this time had passed second base, to score. 

So that’s three errors that resulted in two runs — all from a dribbler that traveled maybe 45 feet.

But John likely got over his three errors quickly, as the Yankees pummeled the Brewers 16-3 and he picked up his eighth win of the year — at age 45, by the way.

Still, three errors on one play is, um, impressive.

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