In baseball, stealing home is when a runner tries to score from third base while the pitcher or other defender is holding the ball.

It is flat-out the most audacious play in organized sporting.

I tried to think of comparable play in other sports, but I just couldn't. Maybe it would be like trying make a left-handed layup against Shaq with your shoelaces tied together. Or playing quarterback blindfolded against the Pro Bowl defense. Or trying to score a goal in soccer running backwards on two torn ACLs. Okay, so I'm getting carried away here, but the point is that stealing home is really really hard.

Picture this. You are standing 90 feet away from your destination. Another guy is standing only 60 feet away from your destination and is about to throw a ball at approximately 90 miles per hour to said destination. If you decide to try to reach your destination, and the ball reaches the destination before you do, you lose everything you have been working so hard to achieve. And if the other guy notices you starting to run to your destination, he is going to throw the ball there even sooner and even harder. And all he has to do to notice you is merely look over his shoulder or be warned by any of his eight friends and tens of thousands of spectators who are watching his back for him. And to top it all off, there is, waiting for you at your destination, another guy of great bulk and girth, wearing some sort of medieval armor, whose fondest desire is to block you off from your destination and knock you into next week in the process.

Why would anyone do it? Well, under the right circumstances, it just might win you the game.


Famous Steals of Home

July 16, 1904 - New York Highlanders pitcher Jack Chesbro steals home in the bottom of the tenth inning to win his own game, 9-8, over the Tigers.

September 28, 1955 - Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson steals home just inches ahead of a desperate diving tag by Yankees catcher Yogi Berra in game 1 of the 1955 World Series. A dramatic photo of Jackie sliding into home in a cloud of dust with Berra diving into the frame from the side is perhaps the single photo that best captures Robinson's free-spirited, energetic style of baseball. To this day, Berra insists Robinson was out.

August 14, 1958 - Vic Power of the Cleveland Indians steals home twice in a wild 10-9 victory over the Tigers. His second swipe of the dish is a walk-off game-winner in the bottom of the ninth inning. Power only steals one other base in the entire season.

September 21, 1964 - The Philadelphia Phillies have a commanding lead in the National League standings when they lose a game 1-0 to the Reds on a steal of home by rookie Chico Ruiz. Most baffling about the steal is that there were two outs and the most feared hitter in the game, Frank Robinson, was at bat - if there was ever a situation not to steal home, this was it. Ruiz ever after claimed that he saw the steal sign, which everyone else denied, creating the legend of the "phantom steal sign." The Phillies, meanwhile, promptly went on a 10-game losing streak and missed the pennant by one game, in one of the most dramatic late-season collapses in baseball history.


Major League Records

Most steals of home, season:

AL: Ty Cobb, 8 (1912)
NL: Pete Reiser, 7 (1946)

Most steals of home, career:

AL: Ty Cobb, 54
NL: Max Carey, 33

15 or more steals of home, career

Ty Cobb, 54
Max Carey, 33
George Burns, 28
Honus Wagner, 27
Sherry Magee, 23
Frank Schulte, 23
Johnny Evers, 21
George Sisler, 20
Frankie Frisch, 19
Jackie Robinson, 19
Jim Sheckard, 18
Tris Speaker, 18
Joe Tinker, 18
Rod Carew, 17
Eddie Collins, 17
Larry Doyle, 17
Tommy Leach, 16
Ben Chapman, 15
Fred Clarke, 15
Lou Gehrig, 15

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