December 17, 2009:
1995 Upper Deck SP #104 Ray Lankford
There have traditionally been eight known ways for a batter to reach first base. They are:
Hit By Pitch
Dropped Third Strike
Fielder Obstruction to 1B
On this card, Ray Lankford shows us the ninth. In one of the lesser-read subsections of the MLB Rule Book, a batter may execute what has become known as the "Speedy Mule." When there is a 3-2 count and all bases are unoccupied, if a batter hits a tenth consecutive foul ball, he may choose to attempt a "donkey kick" by placing his hands anywhere within the batter's box and thrusting his legs and feet into the air with three quick pumps. If the home plate umpire determines that said batter completes the third thrust before the ball hits any object (living or non-living) in foul territory, he may award the batter first base if (and only if) he can in good conscience award the batter a total of no less than four and no more than seven style points. The subjective nature of this rule would most likely bring great scrutiny upon it, were it to be brought into play during an actual MLB game. However, it has only been implemented twice in spring training history. The first occurrence is believed to have been during World War II, but newspaper records are unclear as to whether or not the batter reached first base, or even what player attempted the maneuver. During the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers (ss), Lankford became the first player to reach base in this fashion, but was almost immediately picked off first base during Bernard Gilkey's at bat.