You could write a book about the greatest catches in baseball history. Actually that book has been written (and yes, I've got it here, somewhere). You could also write a book about the greatest throws in baseball history. I don't believe that book's been written, and I'm not going to write it today. However, there are exactly three throws in my personal experience that feel truly iconic ... and we might have seen a fourth Monday night.
I don't mean a great throw in the traditional sense; the great majority of great throws are essentially generic: outfielder fields ball, outfield uncorks perfect throw just in time to nab surprised runner. They're lovely to see, but within a week we've probably forgotten them. But there are three (and now maybe four) throws that have stuck with me because they came early (or relatively early) in a player's career and helped cement that player's reputation forever.
The first that I remember happened in the 1979 All-Star Game. Dave Parker actually made two tremendous throws in that contest, but it's the second of them -- nailing Brian Downing at the plate, on the fly -- that's endured:
The next came nine years later, and is perhaps enlarged in our minds because we can't actually see the throw; there is apparently no surviving tape that shows much of the throw at all, which allows us to make the through as uncanny as we like. What we do know is that Bo Jackson, in his second full major-league season, cemented his legend by throwing out Harold Reynolds from the warning track. In Kansas City (and probably Seattle, too) they simply called it The Throw. What film we do have, you can see at the 1:30 mark here:
And then of course, 13 years later there's Ichiro. They called this The Throw, too:
He practically locked up the Gold Glove right there, just weeks into his rookie season.
Monday night, Yasiel Puig outdid all of those phenoms in at least one respect. Yasiel Puig didn't wait a few seasons or even a few days to establish himself as one of the game's most exciting outfielders. Yasiel Puig has done it already, with the deed forever memorialized by Vin Scully:
A lot of things are going to happen in Yasiel Puig's career, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if nothing is better-remembered than the very last thing he did in his very first game. And they're already calling it The Throw.
For much more about Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers, please visit SB Nation's True Blue LA.