Let’s relive one of the most iconic defensive moments in MLB history, when Mitchell made a phenomenal barehanded catch to rob legendary St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith of what could have potentially been an extra-base hit.
This web gem still doesn’t seem real.
Kevin Mitchell Barehanded Catch
That’s a catch so sweet it probably had Willie Mays jumping out of his seat. While this probably isn’t on the same level as “The Catch” from the 1954 World Series, the single greatest defensive moment in Major League Baseball history, it was certainly an incredibly difficult maneuver to pull off.
Sure, you can easily argue that this ball was likely headed towards foul territory, but that doesn’t make Mitchell’s heroics any less impressive. Imagine how bruised his hand must have been after this snag.
After realizing he couldn’t track down the ball in time with his glove, Mitchell wisely decided to use his body angle to his advantage, sticking out his throwing arm and somehow managing to reel in the line drive with his bare hand along the left field wall. The 1989 National League MVP couldn’t help but crack a smile after coming down with the grab.
Barehanded plays are rare to begin with, and most often seen in efforts to stomp out a bunt attempt or during exchanges on double plays. Scarcely, if ever, have baseball fans seen a player go after a fly ball in the outfield with his bare hand.
“We (were) playing Ozzie in the gaps,” Mitchell told NBC Sports Bay Area‘s Amy Gutierrez in an interview. “We weren’t even supposed to be pitching him outside because he hits the ball to left field (well). I felt I couldn’t get to it with my glove and I just put my hand up. You know, as a kid, you play in the boys clubs and you always used your hands in whiffle ball. It was just something that just happened. I don’t know, what was I thinking then. I just hoped that Ozzie wasn’t mad at me, he wasn’t really pissed at me.”
Not only did the former New York Mets outfielder make one of the greatest catches in baseball history with his bare hand, Mitchell did it against a 15-time All-Star and Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith. Not a bad defensive highlight for a baseball player who started his career at third base.
Mitchell played 13 seasons in MLB, spending time with the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. His best season came in 1989 with the Giants when he won NL MVP honors after hitting 47 home runs and driving in 125 RBIs.
However, he’s famously remembered for one of the best catches in MLB history.