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The last Dodger to truly steal home was Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez

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A closer look at Dodgers steals of home in the last 40 years

The goal in baseball is to reach home, and the most exciting way to do it is by stealing home. The only problem is how rare a true steal of home is in modern times.

One of the most famous plays in Dodgers history was a steal of home by Jackie Robinson, who stole home 19 times in the regular season. The play in question was in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the 1955 World Series, a controversial safe call that Yankees catcher Yogi Berra argued against for decades (though in hindsight the play wasn’t too monumental; the Dodgers would win that series, but lost Game 1, 6-5).

Another famous Dodgers steal of home came several years later, by Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the 1993 movie The Sandlot.

Rodriguez, whose legend grew after playing pickle with The Beast as a kid and winning, was at the back end of his career in this steal of home. “They say The Jet’s lost a step or two,” noted Dodgers announcer Scott Smalls, a childhood friend of Rodriguez.

This is a legendary play in Dodgers history, and not just for one of the worst slides you’ll ever see in baseball. Rodriguez could have touched home plate with his feet well before any sort of tag from the catcher, but instead slid around home plate and reached back to touch the part of the plate that left him the most vulnerable.

Still, Rodriguez was safe, and was carried off the field as a hero. Honestly, every steal of home should be followed by such a celebration.

But what is more notable about Rodriguez’s theft is that it is the last true steal of home in Dodgers history.

The Sandlot was released in theaters in April 1993, so the latest this play could have been was in the 1992 season. The film was set in 1962, and if the kids in the movie were 12 or so, even a game in the early 1980s would have had those kids now in their mid-30s.

Since 1980, the Dodgers (the real ones, not the movie ones) have stolen home 16 times, but 15 of those were on the back end of a double steal. Those are thrilling plays, but lack the danger of a true steal of home. Waiting on the throw down to second base is not as risky as a straight steal of home.

Dodgers stealing home on a double steal

Home stealer Date Opponent Inning Stealing 2B
Home stealer Date Opponent Inning Stealing 2B
Dusty Baker 8/16/83 Giants 4th Pedro Guerrero
Steve Sax 6/29/84 Cubs 1st R.J. Reynolds
Lenny Harris 8/11/90 at Braves 4th Juan Samuel
Jose Gonzalez 8/26/90 Mets 3rd Mike Sharperson
Brett Butler 9/8/92 at Braves 2nd Mike Sharperson
Raul Mondesi 7/26/98 D-backs 3rd Gary Sheffield
Paul LoDuca 8/15/98 Braves 2nd Eric Young
Todd Hollandsworth 9/13/99 Expos 5th Raul Mondesi
Darren Dreifort 6/12/01 Rangers 2nd Tom Goodwin
Paul LoDuca 6/24/04 at Giants 4th Juan Encarnacion
Dee Gordon 7/1/11 at Angels 7th Tony Gwynn Jr.
Carl Crawford 4/9/14 Tigers 1st Hanley Ramirez
Kiké Hernandez 4/6/17 Padres 6th Corey Seager
Chris Taylor 6/14/17 at Indians 2nd Joc Pederson
Austin Barnes 7/15/19 at Phillies 4th Joc Pederson

Even though these weren’t straight steals of home, there are still notable feats, like Paul Lo Duca stealing home twice, another catcher (Austin Barnes) with the latest steal of home, and even a pitcher (Darren Dreifort) getting in on the action.

In the last four decades, there was one Dodger who stole home without a double steal, and it was quite unexpected. Luis Cruz stole four bases in his five major league seasons, and one was a steal of home on July 3, 2012 against the Reds. But it came with a caveat.

From my game recap eight seasons ago:

With Tony Gwynn Jr. at the plate Cruz broke for home on a suicide squeeze attempt but Cueto, who didn’t issue a walk all night, threw a pitch over Hanigan’s head that allowed Cruz to score. Cruz was credited with a steal of home on the play, the first steal of home by a Dodger since Dee Gordon stole second, third, and home in one inning against the Angels on July 1, 2011.

Gordon is noted in the table above, as his steal of home was part of a double steal. But stealing three bases in one inning is as great of a version of Dee Gordon you’ll ever see.

My favorite Dodgers stealing home story was an unsuccessful attempt, by another unusual culprit. Eric Karros, who was never described as fast, was on third base with two outs in the third inning against the Padres in San Diego on July 5, 1997.

It was such a shocking steal attempt that the LA Times game story headline the next day was “Karros Can’t Catch Ashby Napping.” It turns out Karros saw the sliver of an opening, per Chris Bakers game recap:

Karros, who singled in the Dodgers’ first run off starter Andy Ashby, took off from third when he saw Ashby turn to look at the outfield.

“I thought I had a pretty good jump,” Karros said. “He just wasn’t paying attention. I thought I could make it.”

Maybe leave the stealing of home to the experts, like Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.