Rays Vault: Fuld's unreal diving catch

March 11th, 2022

MLB.com is digging back into its massive video vault to uncover classic plays that you have loved, forgotten about or, perhaps, are discovering for the very first time. Watch these moments and many, many more on the MLB Vault YouTube page.

April 9, 2011: Super Sam Fuld
Sam Fuld -- then a little-known, light-hitting outfielder acquired alongside Chris Archer and Robinson Chirinos in the Matt Garza trade -- kicked off an incredible stretch with the 2011 Rays and earned his "Super Sam Fuld" nickname with this diving catch in Chicago. With Wade Davis on the mound, the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, Fuld laid out on the warning track in right field and made an unbelievable grab to rob Juan Pierre of an extra-base hit. The undersized outfielder would soon become a cult hero with the Rays, playing a contributing role on their 2011 AL Wild Card team.

April 13, 1998: Tampa Bay's first walk-off win
The Devil Rays' first extra-inning game turned out to be a long one -- with a dramatic finish. In the first game of the franchise's second homestand at Tropicana Field, the club was tied at 12 with the Twins after nine innings. Then up came infielder Bobby Smith to lead off the bottom of the 14th inning against right-hander Mike Trombley, Minnesota's seventh pitcher of the game. (That Twins lineup had Paul Molitor batting third and a young first baseman named David Ortiz, who went deep off Rolando Arrojo in the first inning, hitting cleanup.) Smith swung on a 1-0 pitch and lashed it out to left field for a walk-off homer, the first walk-off win in Tampa Bay history. It was Smith's fourth hit of the game and his first Major League home run.

July 22, 2006: Julio Lugo's two-homer inning
There have been 56 players in AL/NL history to homer twice in the same inning, and Tampa Bay can claim two of them: Jared Sandberg and Julio Lugo. Four years after Sandberg went deep twice in the same inning, Lugo -- who died this past November at the age of 45 -- hit a pair of homers in the fifth inning of a 13-12 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field on July 22, 2006. The first was a two-run blast to left field off Rodrigo Lopez with no outs, and the second was a two-run shot to left-center off Kurt Birkins that capped Tampa Bay's 10-run frame. The leadoff-hitting shortstop enjoyed the best seasons of his 12-year career during his time with Tampa Bay from 2003-06, and he remains 10th on the club's all-time Wins Above Replacement leaderboard.

Sept. 9, 2008: Dan Johnson saves the day
This hit is one reason Dan Johnson remains a folk hero for Rays fans. Johnson was called up and hustled to Fenway Park, arriving too late to start but just in time to prepare for a pinch-hit appearance that came in the top of the ninth. Johnson hadn’t played in eight days, and his last plate appearance in the Majors took place five months before he stepped in against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Unafraid of the moment, Johnson pulled a game-tying home run out to right-center field, and the Rays rallied for another run to beat the Red Sox, 5-4. It was a pivotal win for Tampa Bay on its way to the club's first American League East title, and Johnson's heroics -- this, as well as his Game 162 pinch-hit homer in 2011 -- live on in franchise lore.

April 3, 2000: A first-pitch Opening Day HR
Fred McGriff's fifth-inning grand slam was the biggest hit in the Devil Rays' 7-0 Opening Day win over the Twins at the Metrodome, but not the first. Leadoff man Gerald Williams -- a popular outfielder who passed away on Feb. 8 after a battle with cancer -- swung on the first, letter-high pitch of the 2000 season from Brad Radke and belted it out to left field. One pitch, one swing, one run for Williams -- and that was the encouraging start to an ultimately disappointing 69-92 campaign for Tampa Bay.

Sept. 2, 2006: MLB's first 2-6-2 triple play
The second triple play in Tampa Bay's franchise history was the first of its kind in MLB history. In the top of the first against the Mariners at Tropicana Field, J.P. Howell struck out Raul Ibanez looking for the first out. Catcher Dioner Navarro then fired the ball to shortstop Ben Zobrist, who tagged out Adrian Beltre as he attempted to reach second base. Zobrist then made a quick return throw home, where Navarro recorded the third out by tagging José López on his way to the plate. It was the first 2-6-2, catcher-to-shortstop-to-catcher, triple play in Major League history. "I just watched the ball fly around like a snowball fight," Howell said after the game. "But it was fun, man."

Aug. 17, 2004: Upton's first career home run
After being taken second overall in the 2002 Draft, B.J. Upton played 130 games in the Minors in 2003 and 98 the next year before being called up by the Rays for his debut on Aug. 2, 2004. The No. 2 prospect in the Minors at the time, Upton became the only teenager to play for Tampa Bay and went deep for the first time in his 11th career game. Eventually best known as a center fielder wearing No. 2 for the Rays, Upton was a shortstop wearing No. 35 when he homered to the opposite field -- over Vladimir Guerrero -- off the Angels' Kelvim Escobar at Tropicana Field.

May 6, 2000: Trachsel outduels peak Pedro
In 2000, Pedro Martinez had arguably the greatest pitching season in modern history; his 291 ERA+ was the best by any MLB pitcher since 1900. And he was great against the Devil Rays in this contest at Fenway Park, striking out 17, walking one and only giving up six hits -- all singles -- in one of his seven complete games that season. But Martinez lost on this day, 1-0, because Steve Trachsel was even stingier. Trachsel allowed three hits and three walks while striking out 11 batters in a shutout. Behind that gem, Greg Vaughn's eighth-inning RBI single off Martinez was enough for Tampa Bay to beat one of the game's greatest pitchers.

Sept. 28, 2000: Two plays at the plate
A play at the plate might be the most exciting event in baseball. So how about two plays at the plate at once? It happened in the second inning of the Devil Rays' 11-3 win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field. After walking Jose Canseco with one out, Bryan Rekar gave up a double to deep center off the bat of Tino Martinez. The relay of Gerald Williams to Felix Martinez to Mike Difelice nabbed Canseco, then the catcher's throw to third base bounced into foul territory. But Aubrey Huff recovered quickly and made a strong throw home, and Difelice tagged out Martinez to complete the wild play.

Sept. 13, 2002: Tampa Bay's first triple play
The Rays have only turned three triple plays in franchise history, and the first came courtesy of a 2002 Devil Rays club that lost 106 games. After giving up a leadoff single and hitting the next batter in the fifth inning of his Major League debut, Dewon Brazelton got Ken Huckaby to hit a line drive to second baseman Andy Sheets for the first out. Both Blue Jays baserunners were running on the pitch, so Sheets easily recorded the second out by flipping the ball to shortstop Chris Gomez. And the third out was just as easy, as Gomez tossed the ball to first baseman Aubrey Huff to end the inning. It didn't help Tampa Bay earn a win, however, as Toronto pulled off a 5-2 victory at SkyDome.

March 31, 1998: First hit in franchise history
A decade before he was the Rays' bench coach, which led to him serving in the same role for the Cubs and eventually managing the Nationals to a World Series championship, Dave Martinez etched his name in Tampa Bay's record books with a single to right field. After the first seven Devil Rays hitters went down in order in the franchise's inaugural game at Tropicana Field, Martinez bounced a grounder off the Tigers' Justin Thompson that caromed off the first-base bag and into right field for the first hit in club history.