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Remembering some of the greatest OF grabs

July 22, 2019

Earlier this season, MLB.com took a look at some of the best home run robberies ever, but that left out oh so many outstanding defensive efforts by the game's top outfielders. The time has come to rectify that. Here are some of the greatest outfield catches -- non homer-robbery edition

Earlier this season, MLB.com took a look at some of the best home run robberies ever, but that left out oh so many outstanding defensive efforts by the game's top outfielders.

The time has come to rectify that. Here are some of the greatest outfield catches -- non homer-robbery edition -- in big league history.

Jim Edmonds
June 10, 1997, at Royals (with Angels)
2004 NLCS Game 7, vs. Astros (with Cardinals)

Edmonds earned his first career Gold Glove Award in 1997, and he may have locked it up with this jaw-dropping play -- a full-extension, over-the-shoulder diving catch on David Howard's fly ball to deep center field with two on and two out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Edmonds' snag kept the game tied at one, and the Angels would ultimately win, 6-2.

Seven years later, in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS vs. the Astros, Edmonds came up big again. With two on and one out in the top of the second and Houston leading, 1-0, Edmonds tracked Brad Ausmus' fly ball to left-center field and made a spectacular diving catch in the gap to save at least one run. St. Louis would go on to win, 5-2, clinching a spot in the World Series.

Willie Mays, Giants
1954 World Series Game 1 vs. Indians

Taking advantage of the Polo Grounds' cavernous center-field dimensions, Mays made a play so iconic it's known simply as "The Catch," reeling in Vic Wertz's fly ball more than 400 feet away from home plate with a running over-the-shoulder grab. Mays' sparkling effort came with two on and nobody out in the eighth inning, preserving a 2-2 tie in a game the Giants would go on to win, 5-2, in 10 innings.

Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
May 25, 1991, vs. Rangers

Griffey turned in one of the signature defensive plays of his illustrious career in 1991, showing impressive closing speed while chasing Ruben Sierra's fly ball to right-center field and making a leaping catch on the warning track as he crashed hard into the wall, foot-first.

Eric Byrnes, A's
April 30, 2005, vs. Mariners

The expansive foul territory at the Oakland Coliseum was no match for Byrnes, who traveled a long way before going airborne to complete an unbelievable diving catch near the A's bullpen mound.

Best of the rest

Here are some additional moments when outfielders went above and beyond on defense.

Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
2018 ALCS Game 4 at Astros

Benintendi's flying grab against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series may have created the more lasting image, but it was his gutsy diving catch to end ALCS Game 4 that helped Boston get to the Fall Classic in the first place. If Alex Bregman's sinking line drive had gotten past Benintendi, all three Houston baserunners might have come home to win the game and tie the series. Watch >

Billy Hamilton, Reds
Aug. 23, 2016, vs. Rangers

There aren't many players who could have pulled off this sensational catch besides the fleet-footed Hamilton, who laid out on the warning track to rob Carlos Beltran after covering more than 120 feet and notching a sprint speed of 31.6 ft/sec. Watch >

Steven Souza Jr., Nationals
Sept. 28, 2014, vs. Marlins

While Jordan Zimmermann was dominant on the final day of the 2014 regular season, he needed some help to complete the first no-hitter in Nationals history. With two outs in the ninth inning and Washington leading, 1-0, Christian Yelich sliced a ball to left-center field that threatened to break up the no-no, but Souza tracked it down and made a remarkable game-ending catch. Watch >

Aaron Rowand, Phillies
May 11, 2006, vs. Mets

Just 33 games into his Phillies career, Rowand endeared himself to the Philadelphia faithful by running full speed into the center-field fence for a stunning catch against the Mets. Rowand suffered facial lacerations and several fractures but was back in the lineup after a minimum stay on the injured list. Watch >

Lance Berkman, Astros
May 18, 2002, vs. Pirates

Before it was removed in 2016, "Tal's Hill" was a unique quirk in center field at Minute Maid Park, and the site of an incredible catch by Lance Berkman in '02. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Berkman wasn't exactly light on his feet, but he stayed with Rob Mackowiak's deep drive to center, advanced up the incline and made an over-the-shoulder grab while falling to the ground. Watch >

Thomas Harrigan is a reporter for MLB.com.