Niagara Gazette — On a cool (he insists) August night in 2012, Justin Toole picked up a glove and trotted out to play right field for the Class A Carolina Mudcats of the Carolina League in Zebulon, N.C.
He would not return to that position. By 9:10 p.m. he had played a defensive inning at all nine positions. Did right well, too. Fielded a ground ball at each of the “throwing” infield positions. As catcher, snagged a third-strike foul tip. Then finished the game with two strikeouts on the mound. Had the Mudcats taken less of a lead into the ninth, he’d have earned a save.
But in “9 in 9,” the book Toole would later write, there is little self-congratulation, however justified. It’s not about the achievement, it’s about the journey, what he learned about the game in each position. It’s about putting yesterday behind you except as a learning tool, and accepting the failures endemic to the game in which missing seven times out of 10 makes you a star.
Nine-in-nine is not easily executed. First requirement, the opposing team’s good will, a recognition that no disrespect is intended. The game should not be impactful to the standings and it must be at home. A road team, behind in the score, will not take the field in the ninth. And a wise manager will prepare, in advance, a defensive lineup for every inning.
Greg Edge of the Bisons did it in 1992 but lasted only one batter as a pitcher, after a high fly fell for a triple, beyond the grasp of the catcher-by-trade stuck in right field. Since Edge retired nobody, the mound stint doesn’t show up on his “Baseball Cube.”
Base Paths seems to recall a Niagara Power player trying it, frustrated when rain cut the game short.