It’s 1, 2, 3, 4 strikes you’re out …

Reader Carol Simeos noticed something unusual in the obituary of former Angels pitcher Ryne Duren.

Duren, who played for the Angels in 1961 and 1962, was described as “the first Angels pitcher to strike out four batters in an inning.”

Simeos acknowledged that she wasn’t a baseball expert, but she wondered, “How did he strike out four batters in one inning? My understanding of baseball is that when one team gets three men out in one inning, the other side comes up to bat.”

That’s certainly how the song goes.

Baseball Almanac explains:

A batter with two strikes on him takes a swing at strike three; however, the catcher does not field the ball cleanly, and instead of tagging the runner out, the runner reaches [first base]. The strikeout is recorded, but not the out.

The page lists the pitchers who have accomplished this feat. It’s happened about 50 times since 1888.

(A longer obituary for Duren was posted on Afterword, the news obituary staff’s blog.)

This column was originally published on on January 26, 2011.

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