MLB: Ranking the 20 Greatest Wall Grabs in Baseball History
Even in an era when baseball is experiencing a power shortage, there is no lack of appreciation for the long ball.
It's the most marketable feat in baseball—definitely sexier and more exciting than the pitching accomplishments and dominance of recent years (unless you're a baseball purist).
While the small ball style of play has made a comeback and is exciting in its own right, there is nothing quite as exciting as seeing the ball explode off the batter's bat, headed to the deepest parts of the ballpark beyond the field and into the bleachers.
Equally exciting, and sometimes more so, are the jaw-dropping displays of athletic thievery performed by the outfielders, whose job it is to prevent those runs from hitting the scoreboard.
A good wall catch can silence a stadium instantly or send the whole place erupting in ovations for the hometown hero who just stole a run from the opposition.
Here are the best of the best when it comes to baseball wall grabs.
Honorable Mention: Masato "Spiderman" Akamatsu's Amazing Grab in Japan
This catch easily should rank higher than the majority of the catches that I did rank No. 1 through 20.
Without doubt, it was an amazing catch, but not one I am positive the player would be able to replicate in a major league ballpark without the chain-link extension at the top of the wall.
Regardless, he's a very athletic and impressive player. I'd love to see it attempted in the majors.
20. Bo Jackson "Spiderman" Wall Run Grab
At about the 1:15 mark of the video you will see Bo Jackson's amazing catch and Spiderman move on the wall.
Bo knew football, Bo knew baseball and Bo knew how to make an impressive play on defense in the outfield.
If you watch the entire video above, you will see highlight after highlight of his amazing athleticism.
The play that earned him a ranking among the greatest baseball catches of all time, though, was when he tracked down this ball and then did a Spiderman move, running up and back down the outfield wall.
19. Kirby Puckett's 1991 Leaping Catch in World Series
Kirby Puckett put the Twins on his back in the 1991 World Series.
Before hitting a walk-off homer to win Game 6 and force a Game 7, Puckett kept the Twins in the game with a leap that would make any NBA player proud.
Check out the vertical leap (video) here as he took away a home run earlier in Game 6.
How did I not rank this higher?
18. Torii Hunter Robs Barry Bonds in 2002 All-Star Game
Even though it occurred in what is essentially an exhibition game, Torii Hunter's grab to rob Barry Bonds of a home run in the All-Star game was an amazing running, leaping grab.
Even Bonds was shocked. He playfully picked Hunter up and threw him over his shoulder as Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki jogged back into the infield.
It was a perfect display of why Hunter was/is considered one of the best outfielders in the game and was a rare moment where Bonds appeared to have a fun, human side to him.
17. Ken Griffey Jr. Robs Ruben Sierra
Griffey Jr.'s incredible wall-smashing catch to rob Ruben Sierra of at least a double is the perfect display of Griffey's athleticism in the outfield during the 1990s.
The video to this catch by Griffey can be found here at the 3:30 mark of the clip. You can actually enjoy the entire video, as the superstar is going over his favorite catches of the past few years (and all are pretty spectacular).
Griffey ran full speed on a line toward the center field wall and flew through the air horizontally until his entire body crashed into the padded fence.
An absolutely amazing play from Griffey in his prime, and still a mystery how he did not shatter his ankle, wrist or both.
16. Trayvon Robinson Robs Torii Hunter in His Debut
Trayvon Robinson, the newest Seattle Mariner after coming from Los Angeles in the Erik Bedard trade, made an absolutely remarkable catch in his debut.
Robinson sprinted back to the wall on a blast by Angels outfielder Torii Hunter (a man known for his own spectacular wall grabs) and threw himself into the stands to make the play.
He clearly was more concerned with helping his team than protecting his body, and max-effort youngsters like this always becomes instant fan favorites.
The catch can be seen here.
15. Mike Cameron Steals a Home Run in Left Center on May 23, 2003
Mike Cameron put on a Torii Hunter-like display of outfield wizardry in the first inning of the Mariners game against the Minnesota Twins on May 23, 2003, and robbed none other than Hunter himself of a home run.
As you can see in the picture, Cameron tracked down the fly ball on the run and made a leaping, backhanded catch over the wall to bring the ball back.
Not only was the play something you would see from the player who found himself robbed of the home run, it was a flashback for Mariners fans of when Ken Griffey was playing center field and making spectacular catches on a regular basis.
14. Ichiro Suzuki Climbs High Above Right Field Wall to Rob Home Run
Ichiro is, without question, one of the more dynamic ballplayers of the past decade.
On May 3, 2005, he took a home run away from the Angels' Garret Anderson when he made this running, leaping, wall-climbing play.
The catch ranks right near the top of the Mariners' all-time greatest catches.
The Angels still won that game, 5-2.
13. Brett Butler Steals a Home Run on July 8, 1994
This picture is not of the catch referenced. There does not appear to be either video or photo evidence of the event, unfortunately.
Brett Butler helped the Dodgers hang on to a win in this game on July 8, 1994.
In the seventh inning, Todd Hundley hit what appeared to be a three-run homer for the Mets. Butler raced back, leapt and stretched over the fence to bring it back, though.
Dodger Stadium gave him a standing ovation for the play, and the Mets were not able to come back, giving the Dodgers the win.
12. A Ball Girl Shows off Her Extreme Athleticism
Brent Johnson, in his first year at Triple-A, was in a tight battle with Tacoma in a 2-1 game. He never could have anticipated what happened next.
Crushing a deep fly ball down the left field line that was beginning to twist foul, the team's ball girl raced to the wall and scaled it like a spider-woman to make the incredible grab!
I'm pretty sure they should sign her up quickly before another organization comes in and sweeps her away.
Yes, it's fake, but this video just had to make the list.
11. Another Incredible Wall Grab from Japan
Japanese player Amaya Soichiro just refused to be outdone by fellow compatriot Makato "Spiderman" Akamatsu (a catch previously featured on this list.)
Soichiro would similarly race back to the fence, climb it like a monkey and make an even more remarkable catch than even Akamatsu's.
The announcers were left virtually speechless, and I can absolutely see why. I wouldn't mind having these guys patrolling center field back in the States.
10. Ken Griffey Jr. Steals a Home Run from Jesse Barfield on April 26, 1990
In what would be one of the first of many amazing catches in Griffey's career, he made this leaping grab to rob Jesse Barfield of what would have been career home run No. 200.
In the interview in the video linked above, Griffey explains he leapt to avoid running into the wall. His enjoyment after the catch had more to do with Barfield being a friend of his, he explains.
Personally, it was that appearance that Griffey had so much fun playing the game that made him enjoyable to watch throughout his career, especially during those early years.
9. Ken Griffey Sr. Leaps Above Left Field Wall to Take Away a Homer in 1985
Like father, like son, I guess.
Ken Griffey Sr. was setting the example for athletic wall grabs long before Griffey Jr. would even make his professional debut.
On April 19, 1985, Griffey Sr. leapt high above the left field wall to rob a homer in a 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Unfortunately, this is another case of not having photo or video evidence to back up the claim that this is one of the greatest wall grabs ever.
8. Willie Mays' "The Catch" in 1954 World Series
This is the greatest catch in baseball history, but since it wasn't technically a grab made up against the wall (just sprinting toward it) I can't put it any higher than No. 8 here on the list.
Still, there was no way not to place it in the top 10, as virtually every catch made in MLB history is inevitably compared to this one.
Mays somehow manages to catch up with a long drive that is 460 feet away from home plate at the Polo Grounds, makes the catch, turns and throws a strike to second base to prevent Larry Doby from tagging up.
A 460-foot shot would be a home run in every current ballpark. On this play, it was just a long out, thanks to Mays.
7. Curtis Granderson Leaps High and Reaches Over Fence to Rob a Home Run in 2007
Curtis Granderson has made a variety of spectacular running grabs in his baseball career, and two of his best came as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
On one particular play on a long drive by Wily Mo Pena, Granderson tracked down a long fly ball, went up the fence, reached over and brought the ball back before coming falling back to the field.
I couldn't find a good video of the play, so this slide is dedicated to the second catch I referenced, an incredible game-saving robbery of Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians.
Sit back, watch and enjoy.
6. Jim Edmonds Running and Leaping to Steal a Home Run in Center Field in 2004
Not just one of the best wall grabs of all time, this is one of the most amazing catches ever made in baseball (as demonstrated by the photo above, where it ranked No. 13).
Edmonds raced back and made this amazing over-the-fence grab to rob Jason LaRue of a home run.
Jim Edmonds certainly ranks right near the top of players with amazing catches with Ken Griffey Jr., Torii Hunter and Ichiro.
5. Devon White Leaps Very High, Reaches over Fence to Rob a Home Run in 1994
It was Game 3 of the 1992 World Series, and Blue Jays outfielder Devon White was about to make one of the greatest catches in postseason history.
With no regard for his body, White played his best "Willie Mays" impression by racing back to the warning track and crashing into the wall full speed to rob Braves slugger David Justice.
The video can be found here and can only be described as world-class. Even the great Vin Scully himself claimed this was a better catch than the one Mays had famously made in 1954.
4. Kenny Lofton Scales Center Field Fence, Reaches to Take Away Home Run in 1996
On August 4, 1996, Lofton ran and timed his jump at the wall perfectly, scaling the fence to take away a home run off the bat of B.J. Surhoff.
Lofton reached over the fence as he was about shoulder-high with the top part of the fence and snared the ball.
It was one of many acrobatic plays the center fielder would make throughout his career. This one was the best, though.
It can be "caught" at the 1:00 mark of the above video.
3. DeWayne Wise Saves a Perfect Game by Robbing Home Run in Center Field
DeWayne Wise's spectacular catch gets a jump in the rankings because of the importance it played in preserving a piece of baseball history.
In the ninth inning of Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009, Wise raced back to the warning track and jumped to take a home run away and preserve the perfecto.
There is no doubt, though, that this was a spectacular catch—regardless of the situation.
2. Endy Chavez Leaps Against Wall to Steal a Home Run in 2006 NLCS
Speaking of spectacular catches in big moments, check out Endy Chavez's home run-robbing effort in the 2006 National League Championship Series.
Chavez raced back and timed his leap perfectly to bring back a two-run homer. Then to top off the great play, his throw doubled off Jim Edmonds to get the Mets out of the inning.
1. Gary Matthews Jr. Leaps and Reaches over Center Field Wall to Rob Mike Lamb
Gary Matthews Jr. had the best wall grab in the majors, though.
Matthews runs back, jumps, uses his throwing hand to spin himself as he makes the catch and lands, having done a 180-degree turn while very high in the air to take away a home run.
The broadcasters in the game declared it was probably the "catch of the year." In actuality it was one of the best catches in baseball history.