Roger Cedeno Steals Home

On June 29, 2002, the Mets Roger Cedeno breaks for home during Yankee left-hander Ted Lilly‘s windup. Cedeno avoids the tag at home plate for a successful straight steal of home.

Among the quirky things that seem to happen during Subway series games is Roger Cedeno stealing home. Behind the pitching of Al Leiter, the Mets have a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium.

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After two outs, Cedeno triples to centerfield off of Lilly. Mets third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo comes to the plate. Cedeno has never previously even tried stealing home and has no intention to try today.

But the Mets dugout is along the third base side and manager Bobby Valentine starts yelling “Go, go, go!”. Valentine notices that Lilly is taking his time with a full windup delivery instead of pitching from the stretch.

The other Mets players think he just wants Cedeno to decoy and distract Lilly into balking.

“He likes that play. Break hard, make the pitcher think he’s stealing home plate, and maybe make the wrong move and get the balk. I saw him take off. It surprised me.”

Edgardo Alfonzo

“I can recognize his voice. He just kept shouting, ‘Go, go, go!’ I looked into the dugout and made a face like, ‘Are you sure?’ You don’t want to be wrong about a thing like that.”

Roger Cedeno

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Cedeno dashes for home as soon as Lilly begins his delivery. Yankees catcher Alberto Castillo briefly fumbles the ball. But he has it way before Cedeno arrives. But Castillo is off balance and his tag is high, allowing Cedeno’s feet to slide under his glove.

It’s the Mets first steal of home since catcher Todd Hundley did it on the back end of a double steal on June 16, 1997. That was also against the Yankees. It was the Mets’ first straight steal of home since Tommie Agee did it against the Cubs on July 31, 1971.

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“You don’t see it much because very few pitchers wind up anymore with a runner at third, which used to be commonplace. I just yelled ‘go’ because I wanted him to come down the line. His options are to keep coming or stop if the pitcher speeds up. Fortunately, he was able to make it.”

Bobby Valentine

“That was my fault. I was asleep at the switch. I should have told him to pitch from the stretch. The pitcher doesn’t have to think of things. We’re the observers in the dugout.”

Joe Torre

The Mets went on to win the game 11-2.