In a sport that dates back to Reconstruction days, it's rare to see an occurrence that may be unique.
Those who were at Memorial Stadium Wednesday night, when Baltimore beat Toronto, 7-4, saw an event that was so rare that no one here even knows where to begin searching to learn whether it has ever happened before.
In the top of the 10th inning in that game, Tippy Martinez picked off the side.
The left-hander entered the game with Barry Bonnell on first base and the Jays chomping at the bit to steal against Sakata, a second baseman forced into catching for the first time since he was 9 years old by a welter of Oriole pinch-hitting moves during a two-run ninth-inning comeback. Toronto couldn't wait to wreak base-running havoc on an infield that also included outfielders John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke at second and third base, respectively.
Bonnell broke for second and was picked off by 10 yards. First baseman Eddie Murray made the rundown tag 20 feet from second base on what the record book will show as "caught stealing," since Bonnell was heading toward second.
On the bench, Coach Cal Ripken Sr. was yelling, "Pick his butt off."
Next, switch-hitting speedster Dave Collins, who actually stood at the plate left-handed during the first pickoff, just to obstruct Sakata's throw, turned around and drew a walk batting right-handed. Collins, who once stole 79 bases, was also overanxious and leaned the wrong way on Martinez's second pickoff attempt.
No sooner had Ripken jokingly yelled, "Well, pick his butt off, too," than Collins was nailed by so much that he couldn't even mount an honest slide back to first.
Willie Upshaw then beat out a chopper behind second base to Lowenstein. "Well, what the hell, pick his butt off, too," hollered Ripken.
"We were going to keep throwing to first base until they turned the lights out," said Sakata afterward. "The last time I caught was in Little League in 1961 when I was about 9 years old, and I couldn't throw anyone out then, either."
Martinez lobbed a couple of decoy, half-speed tosses to first, then, low and behold, nipped Upshaw by inches as he dove back head first.
With men on base, Martinez had never thrown to the plate.
"They say you'll see everything in baseball if you play long enough," said Martinez afterward. "Well, now I have . . . I didn't try any new move."