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10 years ago today: Ben Davis breaks an unwritten rule

May 26, 2011, 6:46 PM EDT

Curt Schilling Diamondbacks AP

May 26, 2001

With Arizona’s Curt Schilling bidding for a perfect game, Ben Davis drops down a bunt single in the eighth inning, giving the Padres their first baserunner of the contest.

The Diamondbacks were up 2-0 at the time, and there was much debate about Davis’ play afterwards.  Given that it brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the frame, it sure seemed like a smart move from Davis.  However, many Diamondbacks veterans disagreed and manager Bob Brenly called it “chicken.”

Working from the stretch for the first time all day, Schilling walked the next batter he faced, Bubba Trammell, before retiring Dave Magadan and Mike Darr to end the inning.  After a Reggie Sanders homer in the top of the ninth gave the Diamondbacks a 3-0 lead, Schilling gave up two clean hits and a sac fly in the bottom of the ninth before winning 3-1.

What may surprise many is that Schilling, who never did get his no-hitter (while pitching for the Red Sox in 2007, he lost one against the A’s with two outs in the ninth), didn’t much to say about it at the time.  Asked on Twitter about the incident earlier this year, he wrote:

Ben Davis bunt? I never uttered a word beyond “It was surprising”, left it to others to judge. Didn’t care beyond the W, but I had insane stuff that night, hit a gnats ass, split was dropping a foot, couldn’t miss spots, happened about 5 times in my life, no bunt and imo no no

As for Davis, the second overall pick in the 1995 draft, the bunt is what he’s best known for 10 years later.  He last played in the majors at age 27 in 2004.  In 2008, he tried taking his powerful arm to the mound, and he went 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League in 2010.

  1. bobulated - May 26, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Ben Davis job is to get on base, not help Curt Schilling make history. Like so many of the “rules” it’s situational but IMHO down by two trying to get something going, it’s good baseball.

  2. oikosjeremy - May 26, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Yup, Davis was just doing his job, trying to help his team win a close game.

    My question about the unwritten rule of not bunting to break up a no hitter has always been, when during the game does the rule come into effect? After all, everybody starts out the game with a no hitter. But if the first batter of the game bunts his way on, nobody thinks he broke the unwritten rule. So exactly how many no hit innings do you have to pitch before the rule comes into effect?

    I guess if people knew that, they’d probably be able to write the rule down.

  3. jamie54 - May 26, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Another famous Padre ‘star’ who busted out.

  4. arbornicer - May 26, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    i firmly believe that if you want a no-no or a perfect game you have to earn it, none of this handing it to them shit because it’s the last inning.

  5. Justin - May 26, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    It was a close game and he lays down a bunt to get on base. As stated he walked the next guy so what if the 3rd guy hits a bomb. Maybe closer comes in, they win the game 3-2 and then it becomes a smart play.

  6. jwbiii - May 26, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Bubba Trammell, Dave Magadan and Mike Darr

    Talk about three different outcomes. Magadan is the Red Sox batting coach. Darr was killed in a car accident. Trammell left the game battling depression.

    • Lukehart80 - May 26, 2011 at 9:33 PM

      Looking at those names, my thought was: do they count no hitters against AAA line-ups???

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 26, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I am still not completely over Joe Torre and the Yankees hitters trying exactly ZERO bunts against Curt in the ‘Bloody Sock Game.’ If the Sox want to send a handicapped pitcher to the mound, the Yankees should have taken full advantage and bunted all night. He probably couldn’t have fielded them, and probably would have left the game sooner for trying…

    • nixonotis - May 26, 2011 at 11:27 PM

      Torre was too busy drinking his Bigalow tea and taking naps between innings.

    • professorperry - May 27, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      As a Red Sox fan, I’ve always been baffled by the lack of bunt attempts in Game 6. Baffled and delighted, mind you!

  8. nps6724 - May 26, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    The outrage over that bunt was some of the stupidest comments I’ve ever heard related to baseball. Even if it’s 10-0, if he wants to bunt his way on, go ahead. If swinging isn’t working, try something else. the object is to win the game, not actively help the opposition perform a historic feat. And personally, if I’m a player I would hate to be on the losing end on a no-hitter or perfect game and would do everything in my power to make sure I wasn’t. So if I need to drop down a bunt or lean into a pitch, that’s what I’m gonna do.

    I mean, let’s say Davis doesn’t bunt but he gets a 3-0 count. Is he then required by MLB Unwritten Rule 101.2-b to swing at every subsequent pitch to make sure he doesn’t walk?

  9. adenzeno - May 26, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Or the Sox not bunting against Clemens when he had the bad hamstring…

  10. yahmule - May 26, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    My unwritten rule is to be more than a little amused anytime something bad happens to Curt Schilling.

    • Utley's Hair - May 26, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      I, on the other hand, think that I actually wrote that down somewhere—like a daily check list or something.

  11. kcfanatic - May 26, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Quoting the former Chief coach, “You play to win the game.”

  12. kcfanatic - May 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    You want a perfect game…field your position. Crap, Schilling didn’t even get the shut out. He was a good pitcher, but I’m not handing him history. I’m bunting, I’m stealing…I may even throw at him when he has to hit just to shake him up.

  13. micker716 - May 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    Thumbs up for remembering this anniversary, Matt. At the time I thought it was awesome, and still do. The Pads, and Davis, were playing to win, not to protect the sanctity of the game. I love Baseball, but I hate the self-important “purists” that place their self-imposed rules above the purpose of the game: To win. A catcher, I repeat a catcher! was able to drag bunt for a single with a no-hitter and a game on the line. How did Jay Bell, the lame-ass 2nd baseman that was out of position and allowed the lumbering Davis to bunt for the hit, escape all the criticism leveled on Davis? “Chicken”? Tell that to John McGraw or Ty Cobb. I picture them laughing their asses off and asking “who the hell is Bob Brenly?”

  14. xmatt0926x - May 27, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    I remember wondering what the problem was back when it happened and I still don’t get it. He brought the tying run up to the plate. End of story. As I was thinking then and someone else here already said so perfectly, it’s not the batters job to help schilling make history. The reality is that schilling admitted in his comments that if not for the bunt he feels he pitches a no-no. That proves that Davis was right to lay the bunt down and possibly throw Schilling off after the baloon went out of the possible perfect game. Brenly was a prick for the fuss he put up.

  15. nyncsports - May 27, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Curt is a Bum. Stay off the Juice

  16. stairwayto7 - May 27, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    After Davis got on next batter got a double off the wall!

  17. sav2880 - May 28, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Felt this way about it when I was a 21-year old pipsqeak as I do now. Call me back if it’s a 4-0 or 5-0 game, and there’s some separation (even then it’s iffy since we are mid steroids era, just saying), but at 2-0, it’s all fair game and he’s trying to win the game. Worth doing.

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