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Johnny Neun in 1948
October 28, 1900|
|Died: March 28, 1990
|April 14, 1925, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 1931, for the Boston Braves|
|Career highlights and awards|
Although never an everyday player (he never played more than 97 games a season), Neun entered baseball immortality on May 31, 1927 against the Cleveland Indians, when he caught a line drive from Homer Summa, stepped on first to retire Charlie Jamieson, and despite shouts from his shortstop to throw him the ball, raced towards second base to retire Glenn Myatt, completing the seventh unassisted triple play in MLB history, and the first such play to end a game. Neun turned the triple play as a first baseman and not a second baseman or shortstop, one day after Jimmy Cooney of the Chicago Cubs had done so.
On July 9, 1927, playing against the New York Yankees, Neun had five base hits and five stolen bases. He is the only player since at least 1914 to have at least five of each in one game. Nevertheless, he stole only 41 bases in his career.
In 1935, after retiring as a player, Neun began managing in the New York Yankees' farm system, and from 1938 through 1941, he piloted the AA Newark Bears, winning International League regular season championships in 1938 (104 wins) and 1941 (100 wins) and the 1938 playoff title. He then spent two seasons as skipper of the Yanks' other top affiliate, the Kansas City Blues of the American Association (where he won another regular-season pennant, in 1942), before joining the New York coaching staff in 1944.
In September 1946, he was hired as the manager of the Yankees, replacing Bill Dickey. His stint in New York lasted only 14 games (8-6) through the third-place Yankees' final regular season game. During the offseason, he was hired by the Cincinnati Reds as the successor to Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie. Neun had a record of 117–137 in parts of two seasons. He was dismissed after 100 games in 1948 in favor of Bucky Walters. He continued working in the game, and into his eighties was a scout and instructor for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Neun and Cooney
Despite their joint fame, Neun and Jimmy Cooney never actually met, as they were playing in different leagues. (They did face each other in a minor league game in 1929, but didn't exchange words.) Finally, nearly six decades later, in 1986, Sports Illustrated arranged a conference call between the two.