Tony Campana’s blazing speed around the bases has already gained him a cult following at Wrigley Field this season. But a key part of his skill is still unharnessed: his slide.
During Friday’s game against the Cardinals, Campana overslid second while stretching a single into a double, took off through the rain-slicked outfield grass and disappeared into the vines along the wall. Cards left fielder Matt Holiday promptly threw his hands up into the air, signaling that the Cubs’ speedster was no longer visible.
“I didn’t see any tag applied,” said umpire Dana DeMuth after the play. “And now we can’t find the runner. So … safe?”
Major League Baseball had never witnessed a play quite like this before. Koyie Hill was called on to pinch run and the inning continued with both sides agreeing on the ground-rule double.
After the inning, Campana was found to be resting comfortably deep within the tangles of the ivy, munching on half a stale hot dog. The team of grounds crew members and medical staff that excavated the outfielder reported him to be in a sound mental and physical state and complaining only about his leg being asleep.
“No big rush,” Campana told them. “But I think this vine is trying to pollinate me.”
Cubs equipment managers are now considering fitting Campana’s jersey with an Indy-car-style parachute he can deploy before sliding. Strategically placed hockey nets have also been discussed.
“Good kid. Good speed,” said opposing manager Tony La Russa, who witnessed Campana’s epic slide. “Albert [Pujols] could run faster, though, if he wanted.”
By Dan Bradley