Pirates 1B who made infamous fielding blunder vs. Cubs in May is now in the KBO

·3-min read

The Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman who made one of the most infamous blunders in baseball history is now in the Korean Baseball Organization.

Will Craig — a 2016 first-round pick by the Pirates — told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday that he's signed with the KBO's Kiwoom Heroes. He made the decision weeks after the Pirates outrighted him to Triple-A Indianapolis on June 9. That transaction arrived days after Craig captivated the baseball world with an all-time gaffe in which he — a professional baseball player — forgot that force outs were a thing.

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How did this happen?

In a May 27 game against the Chicago Cubs, Javy Baez hit a routine ground ball to third base. Pirates third baseman Erik Gonzalez fielded the ball and threw it to Craig, who stepped off the bag to make the catch.

Instead of simply stepping back to touch first base for a force out, Craig attempted to tag Baez, who goaded him into a rundown toward home plate. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, who started the at-bat on second base, was running the whole time. By the time Craig realized it, Contreras slid into home under Craig's throw for a run. 

A further comedy of errors allowed Baez to reach second safely. This all happened with two outs in the inning. 

May 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Will Craig (38) looks on before the game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark Alberti-USA TODAY Sports
Will Craig is now a member of the Kiwoom Heroes. (Mark Alberti-Reuters)

Craig wanted to 'start over' from infamous play

Craig, 26, told the Post-Gazette that a desire to "start over" from that flub played a role his decision to play baseball on the other side of the world.

“I feel like that play kind of defined me,” Craig said. “I didn’t want that to be the case. That’s another thing that went into my decision to go over there. I need to almost start over in a way.”

Craig's days as a major leaguer with the Pirates may have been numbered with or without the error. In 20 MLB games — 18 of them this season — Craig slashed .203/.261/.281 with one home run, three RBIs and 22 strikeouts in 69 plate appearances. The Pirates repeatedly prioritized other prospects over him

So when the Heroes called with a reported offer of $425,000 for the rest of the season, Craig — who was slated to become a free agent after this season — made the leap.

“I’ve been with the Pirates for six years basically now,” Craig told the Post-Gazette. “This was going to be a way for me to experience something different.”

With some time and a change of scenery, Craig hopes to earn another shot at the MLB level. He believes he ran into some bad breaks with the Pirates and still has time to prove that his first-round selection was no fluke. He also knows he's not living down that play.

“I feel like most players always have a play or some type of event that happens in their career. Mine just happens to be a little bit bigger than others."

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