There are two meanings of the word “balk” pertaining to baseball according to Webster’s Dictionary.

As a noun, it states “an illegal motion made by a pitcher that may deceive a baserunner”. The verb aspect pertains to the ramifications, “an illegal motion, by the pitcher, penalized by an advance of the base runners.” Either way you look at it, it’s a baserunners best friend, and a pitchers worst nightmare.

The balk is one of the least made, and perhaps most judgement, call in Major League Baseball. The balk can be achieved many ways, and varies whether you’re a right handed or left handed pitcher. I could go into the mechanics of a balk, but I’d like for you to continue reading and don’t want to bore you, so I’ll save you the 10-minute nap!

I’m sure, if you’re a sports network junkie, like I am, you probably saw the balk by San Francisco Giants pitcher Santiago Casilla that allowed Derek Norris to score the winning run for the San Diego Padres in the 10th inning giving the Padres a 7-6 win.

Watching the highlights Sunday morning made me wonder, “How many MLB games have ended in a balk off,” so to speak, the answer, 21. That’s quite a bit higher than I anticipated.

The most recent balk off to last Saturday’s occurred on June 18, 2015. The Los Angeles Dodgers had a runner on third in a scoreless game against the Texas Rangers. With pinch runner Enrique Hernandez breaking towards the plate, Rangers pitcher Keone Kela balked to give the Dodgers the 1-0 victory. It’s the only time in MLB history that a team has scored their only, and winning, run in the game on a balk.

When was the first balk off, you’re wondering? The answer is 1939 when the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4.

Over half have occurred in the last 16-years. Since the year 2000, there have been 11 balk-off wins with the Atlanta Braves and Dodgers picking up two of those-a-piece.

Balk-offs occur with a runner on third. However, one-third, 7 of 21, have happened with the bases loaded. Almost half, 10 or 21, in extra innings and all 21 have taken place during the regular season, with the majority happening in the first few months of the season, April and May.

Remarkably, since 1903, there have been 143 walk off wins in the playoffs, and zero have been via the balk.


I’d like to congratulate all of the area Summer teams on their seasons. The Indiana Thunder 15U are in action at Purdue this weekend, while the 16’s are in St. Louis, and the 17’s are at Grand Park in Westfield.

The American Legion teams wrapped up their seasons this past weekend with the junior team falling to State Champion Liberty and Bristol at Crawfordsville High School, and the senior team taking it on the chin against Regional winner Lafayette and Attica.

I’d also like to congratulate the Athenians junior Trent Johnson on his First Team All-State honor, Charger Baylee Adams on his Second Team All-State honor, and Mountie Aaron Cox on his Academic All State honor. That’s three great honors for three outstanding athletes, scholars and young men. Good luck to Baylee and Aaron in their future endeavors.