Campy Plays ‘Em All

Campy Plays ‘Em All

September 8, 1965

Players in the major leagues often have to play more than one position, but only three men have ever played all nine positions in one game. On September 8, 1965, Bert Campaneris of the Kansas City Athletics became the first man ever to do so.

Campaneris, who would finish the season leading the team in batting average and stolen bases, was one of the few bright spots on the struggling A’s. The club was on its way to a 103-loss season, and in order to draw crowds, A’s owner Charlie O. Finley turned to a parade of wacky theme nights that honored everything from farmers to the automotive industry.

When Finley had run out of new ideas, he came up with “Campy Campaneris Night,” in which his young shortstop would appear at a different position each inning. Over 20,000 fans piled in to Municipal Stadium to see how Campaneris would handle the unique rigors of each assignment.

He did pretty well. Campaneris didn’t get a chance to field at his natural shortstop position in the first, but did assist on a pickoff as a second baseman in the second inning. After an uneventful stay at the hot corner in the third, he moved to left field for the fourth, and caught a fly ball. Campy snared another in center the following inning, muffed a Jim Fregosi fly ball in right in the sixth, but as a first baseman managed to snag a pop-up in the seventh.

Campaneris’ most challenging assignments came in the final two innings. When he took the mound in the eighth he pitched as well as could be expected. After inducing a fly out from leadoff man Jose Cardenal, Campy allowed two walks, one hit and one run. But he got a break when Angels second baseman Bobby Knoop struck out and catcher Billy Bryan caught Fregosi trying to steal third to end the inning.

Campaneris moved behind the plate in the ninth, and the Angels’ Ed Kirkpatrick took advantage by stealing second base after a leadoff single. Three batters later, with Kirkpatrick on third and Tom Egan on first, California again tested Campy’s arm with a double steal. Second baseman Dick Green took the throw at second and quickly whipped it back to Campaneris in time to nail Kirkpatrick coming home. Kirkpatrick’s only shot at scoring was to crash into Campaneris and try to jar the ball loose.

Even though Campaneris held on to preserve the 3-3 tie, the collision forced him to leave the field. After he headed off for X-rays, the two teams dueled long into the night. The game didn’t end until the thirteenth inning, when the Angels scored twice to win, 5-3.

Except for a handful of games at second, third, and in the outfield, Campaneris stayed at short for the rest of his career. Three other men would repeat his feat — Cesar Tovar on September 22, 1968, and Scott Sheldon and Shane Halter at the end of the 2000 season.