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Ed “Barehand” Lucas ‘04

Hitting a home run — a round bat squarely connecting a round ball thrown at high speed — is often said to be the most difficult feat in sports, but for my money I’d pick the barehanded fielding of a ground ball by an infielder.

In a game a few weeks ago Ed Lucas ‘04 of the Marlins charged in from third base to field a weakly hit grounder. He couldn’t use his glove; transferring the ball to his throwing hand would take too much time. So he grabbed the bouncing ball in his open palm and in one motion threw to first for the out. Breathtaking. And the other day, with the bases loaded, Lucas again charged from third to barehand a slow hopper, and then make a perfect throw to the plate for the force. The Marlin’s play-by-play guy said one word, “Wow.”

The physics and coordination needed for this kind of action are daunting: running, bending, catching and then accurately throwing a ball that is already on the move itself. I’ll bet you that robots learn to hit homers long before they can field ground balls like this:

Lucas Barehand.jpg

Regrettably the Marlins do not allow most videos of Ed’s bravura play to be embedded in other websites. You have to click here and here to watch the abovementioned putouts. It’s worth the time.

Addendum: Ed’s bat has cooled slightly since we last reported on him (his average has dropped from .282 to .251), but he is still doing a major league job for Miami. Although he mostly plays at the hot corner, as befits a man with a liberal arts education Ed has also seen service at first, second, shortstop and even in left field since being called up at the end of May after ten years in the minors. In those positions he has made only two errors in 141 chances — a fine .986 fielding percentage.

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