Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo popped an reverse subject residence run within the third inning towards Cleveland on Sunday, becoming a member of fairly choose firm. He’s the 126th participant in MLB historical past to hit a home run in his first at-bat. It’s a really cool accomplishment.
Two innings later, Baddoo tried and failed — identical to 16,860 different gamers in MLB historical past with not less than two profession plate appearances — to hitch Keith McDonald in one of the crucial unique residence run golf equipment in MLB historical past. You’re most likely considering, “Wait, who?”
McDonald, the previous Cardinals catcher, is one in all solely two participant to hit residence runs in his first two profession PAs; St. Louis Browns outfielder Bob Nieman was the primary, popping two on Sept. 14, 1951, at Fenway Park.
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And that isn’t even probably the most unique home-run membership McDonald is part of. He’s the only member of the “not less than three profession hits, with each hit being a house run” membership. McDonald had three hits in his profession, and all three have been homers.
Against this, the 700-home run membership — consisting of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth — looks like a crowded NYC subway platform in pre-pandemic days.
It’s actually fairly unbelievable.
“That’s form of the joke,” McDonald mentioned with fun in a telephone dialog with Sporting Information final fall. “I’m the best slugger of all time.”
McDonald was, by his personal labeling, an “organizational man.” Removed from a high prospect — he was a 24th-round decide within the 1994 MLB Draft — McDonald was, in a fashion of talking, form of like Crash Davis. He spent a complete of 9 years in Triple-A, usually dealing with a company’s high pitching prospects. With the Cardinals, he was basically Rick Ankiel’s private catcher in 1999, each at Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Memphis. He caught extremely touted pitching prospects Chad Hutchinson and Matt DeWitt, too.
So he was a giant a part of the group’s future, even when the membership wasn’t precisely relying on his bat. McDonald had solely hit 28 residence runs in 463 profession minor league video games heading into the 2000 season, and he’d simply hit one in 2000 earlier than lastly getting the decision to the bigs at 27 years previous when backup catcher Eli Marrero landed on the DL. He made his debut in a sport the Cardinals have been main 13-3 towards the Reds. Andy Larkin was on the mound.
“It’s Fourth of July in St. Louis. It’s packed, a day sport,” McDonald mentioned. “I get within the field and you’ve got that rush of feelings and stuff. You’re considering, ‘I’m right here! I did it!” First pitch was proper down the center for a strike, and I’m like, ‘Oh, expensive God, I’ve acquired to hit.’ The second pitch was about in the identical place, and I simply dropped the bat on the ball and hit a line drive foul to the suitable. After which, ‘Oh, God, no. Now I want to concentrate. This isn’t only for enjoyable anymore.’ I labored it to 2-2 and he gave me a fastball.
“After pitch three or 4, I assumed he is likely to be tipping his pitches, so I guessed fastball, off how I assumed I noticed him grip the baseball. You try to get each benefit attainable, proper? I imply, with out establishing TV screens and banging trash cans. In the event you can work out how any individual’s tipping pitches, or they get right into a rut the place in a sure depend after it’s been arrange a sure method, you’ve acquired to benefit from that stuff finest you’ll be able to.”
McDonald deposited that fastball over the fence in left-center, a few rows deep.
“I hit the ball off the tip of the bat, really,” McDonald mentioned. “That was the juiced ball yr, prefer it was this previous yr. So I hit it off the tip of the bat and I used to be like, ‘Superior! Double! Get to second, you gradual piece of s—.’ I tripped over first base and nearly fell. It was fairly humorous. I didn’t realize it was gone till I noticed the second-base umpire give the sign for the house run. I used to be simply making an attempt to get to second base.”
Two days later, McDonald acquired what could be the one begin of his MLB profession, batting eighth within the Cardinals lineup. Mark McGwire was batting fourth, Eric Davis was fifth, Fernando Tatis was sixth and J.D. Drew was hitting seventh. Batting ninth? Ankiel. Osvaldo Hernandez was on the mound for the Reds
“Tony La Russa mentioned, ‘This man’s acquired a very good two-seamer, so he’ll most likely begin you off with that. Simply be prepared for it,’” McDonald mentioned. “He threw me a first-pitch two-seamer that was fairly nasty, down and in. Then he threw a get-even fastball and I hit it out. I kinda felt like that one was out, so I used to be in a position to take pleasure in that one a bit extra.”
McDonald’s home-run streak ended with a four-pitch stroll within the third inning. He had an RBI groundout within the fifth and struck out within the seventh. McDonald grounded out in his subsequent at-bat, towards the White Sox on July 13, then got here to the plate on the 15th with two outs within the ninth inning of a sport the Cardinals have been shedding 15-5.
McDonald homered once more, a two-run shot that scored Eduardo Perez.
That might be the final hit of his profession. McDonald was despatched down just a few days later, and he didn’t return to the bigs that yr. “The Cardinals gave me a pleasant Rolex for the second homer,” McDonald mentioned. “I nonetheless put on it. They gave it to me once I acquired despatched right down to Triple-A. The director of participant personnel, Mike Jorgenson, got here down and gave it to me earlier than a sport.”
He had two at-bats for the Cardinals in 2001, in late September, and that was the tip of his MLB profession. McDonald performed Triple-A ball till 2006, transferring from the Cubs to the Pirates to the Rangers and eventually to the Yankees. He retired with a profession .333/.455/1.333 slash line within the majors, with a 329 OPS+ in 11 PAs masking eight video games. His profession minor league slash line: .264/.337/.400, with 78 homers and a .737 OPS in 984 video games.
The report he shares with Nieman is an odd piece of historical past to carry. On one hand, he did one thing just one different particular person in MLB historical past had ever achieved. Then again, that membership may get crowded rapidly. “Any day. Any single day,” McDonald mentioned. “And with all people making an attempt to hit residence runs now?”
Final August, Keibert Ruiz, the rookie catcher for the Dodgers, hit a house run in his first AB.
“My first thought,” McDonald mentioned with fun, “was, ‘God, I hope he doesn’t hit a second one.’ I’m the Dolphins. Hell, yeah, I’m. Identical to when New England misplaced within the Tremendous Bowl. They couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s been enjoyable to be bar-room trivia, principally.”
Of the 126 gamers to hit a house run of their first at-bat, solely two — heart fielder Earl Averill and pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm — wound up within the Corridor of Fame, although a number of gamers are nonetheless energetic. For 26 gamers, that debut residence run is their solely profession residence run, although six of these gamers, together with Baddoo, are nonetheless energetic. Gary Gaetti has probably the most profession residence runs, at 360, of anybody within the first-AB membership, two forward of Carlos Lee. Jermaine Dye (325) is the one different one with not less than 300 homers, and solely 5 others completed with not less than 200: Will Clark (284), Mike Napoli (264), Tim Wallach (260), Averill (238) and Invoice White (202).
Right this moment, we’re having a look at a number of the extra notable first-AB dingers. The entire list is here, for those who’re curious.
Off Corridor of Fame pitchers
Making your major-league debut is troublesome sufficient with out having to face a dominating future Corridor of Famer in your first AB. For everyone apart from these two guys, apparently.
Will Clark stepped to the plate for his debut, on Opening Day 1986, with butterflies in his abdomen as he waited to face the legendary Nolan Ryan fastball for the primary time. As an alternative, the primary pitch from Ryan was a curveball, which landed for a strike. Clark giggled and mentioned to the catcher, “Why is he throwing me a curveball?” The subsequent pitch was a fastball out of the zone, and The Categorical’ third pitch was a fastball on the outer half of the plate. Clark smacked it over the middle subject fence within the cavernous Astrodome — a spot the place only a few baseballs landed — for a jaw-dropping residence run. “I floated across the bases,” Clark mentioned in an interview years later, “touched residence plate and pointed to my household within the stands.” Ryan may need already struck out 4,083 batters in his profession main into that at-bat, however the assured child batting second for the Giants couldn’t have cared much less.
Randy Johnson had “solely” 3,529 profession strikeouts — however 4 Cy Younger awards, together with three in a row and on his option to a fourth consecutive win — when Marcus Thames stepped to the plate on June 10, 2002, batting within the No. 9 spot within the Yankees lineup. Johnson threw a excessive fastball and Thames jumped throughout it, ship it over the wall in left subject for a house run that ship the Yankees’ dugout into hysterics. One of the best a part of the video is watching veteran coach Don Zimmer laughing uncontrollably as he tried to grasp what simply occurred.
Welcome to the large leagues, child. No stress, however the bases are loaded. What are you going to do? Solely 4 occasions in MLB historical past, the reply has been “hit a grand slam.”
Kevin Kouzmanoff (Sept. 2, 2006) hit the very first pitch he noticed — a fastball up within the zone from Rangers starter Edinson Volquez — into the grassy space past the center-field wall at Ameriquest Area. The rookie, who hit .379 mixed at Double-A and Triple-A earlier than he was known as as much as the large leagues, turned the primary participant in MLB historical past to hit a grand slam on the primary pitch he noticed within the majors. Boston’s Daniel Nava (June 12, 2010) was a 27-year-old rookie carrying No. 60 on his again when he duplicated Kouzmanoff’s feat, smacking the primary providing he noticed from Joe Blanton into the bullpen past Fenway Park’s wall in right-center. He wouldn’t hit one other MLB homer till Might 14, 2012.
Jeremy Hermedia (Aug. 31, 2005) swung and missed on the first pitch he noticed within the majors, additionally with the bases loaded, as a pinch-hitter within the seventh inning of a sport his Marlins trailed, 10-0. He watched a pitch from the Cardinals’ Alberto Reyes sail out of the strike zone, then swung on the third providing. Hermida didn’t miss this one. Hermida’s grand slam ended a protracted, lengthy drought; earlier than his blast the one different debut at-bat grand slam was socked by Invoice Duggleby, a pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies on April 21, 1898. Duggleby had given up three runs within the first inning, however his second-inning grand slam apparently helped him on the mound, too, and the Phillies received that sport, 13-4.
These of us who love baseball like to say that the great thing about the game is that any day you’re on the ballpark or watching a sport on TV, you will have an opportunity to see one thing that’s by no means occurred earlier than, in a sport that’s been performed for greater than a century.
Living proof: A random mid-August evening at Yankee Stadium in 2016, in a sport between the struggling Rays and the .500-ish Yankees. New York supervisor Joe Girardi wrote the names of two rookies into his lineup; Tyler Austin was batting seventh and Aaron Choose was batting eighth. Each have been making their MLB debuts. Matt Andriese, having a stable season (2.90 ERA) to that time, was on the mound for the Rays. With two outs within the second inning of a 0-Zero sport, Austin fell behind within the depend, 0-2. He took a pair outdoors the zone after which fouled off a possible Strike Three. Andriese went outdoors with the sixth pitch of the at-bat, and Austin smacked a line drive down the right-field line, simply barely clearing the quick fence just a few ft above the 314 FT signal — a short-porch Yankee Stadium opposite-field particular.
Choose, who had made a pleasant working catch in proper subject within the first inning, got here up subsequent. Like Austin, he fell behind within the depend, 0-2. After a ball, Andriese left a 87-mph breaking pitch over the guts of the plate and Choose crushed it to useless heart. In contrast to Austin’s residence run, this one — a 446-foot stitch-popping blast — would have been out of each MLB stadium. “A monster residence run,” Yankees play-by-play announcer Michael Kay screamed. “Again-to-back residence runs by the Child Bombers of their first big-league at-bats! Are you able to consider it?” It was the primary — and nonetheless solely — time teammates hit back-to-back residence runs of their MLB debuts.
It’s no secret to say that some MLB debuts are extra extremely anticipated than others. That’s not a knock on the Keith McDonalds of the world, it’s simply to say that some prospects have extra eyes on them for that first AB. These guys delivered within the largest method attainable.
This part has to start out with Jason Heyward, in fact. He was the No. 14 total decide within the 2007 MLB Draft, and he excelled in his first couple years within the minors. By the point he earned the Opening Day begin in 2010 — batting seventh within the lineup — Baseball America had ranked Heyward because the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. His Braves have been at residence, and the Cubs had ace Carlos Zambrano on the mound. Atlanta jumped Zambrano early; 5 of the primary six batters reached base safely, and Heyward stepped to the plate with two runners on base. Zambrano’s first two choices have been off the plate, and his third was a fastball on the internal half of the plate. The sound of the bat assembly the ball left zero doubt what would occur. The ball exited the enjoying subject in a blink, going into the Braves bullpen — over the raised arms of the reduction corps — and giving Atlanta a 5-Zero lead. It was a magical second.
Kaz Matsui was a bona fide celebrity in Japan earlier than he selected to play for the Mets in 2004, his Age 28 season. Matsui made his debut on Opening Day, batting leadoff and enjoying shortstop, and smoked the primary pitch he noticed from Russ Ortiz over the wall in heart subject. It was the beginning of a terrific day that included two doubles, two walks and three RBIs. Enjoyable truth: Matsui homered in his first AB of 2005 and his first AB of 2006, too. Other than the Heyward celebration at Turner Area, there may need been no larger first-AB homer celebration than the one at Wrigley Area for Willson Contreras’ debut on June 19, 2016. He’d batted .333 at Double-A the earlier yr and was batting .353 for Triple-A Iowa when he acquired the decision to the bigs. Cubs followers have been excited. Contreras made his debut as a catcher within the ninth inning on June 17, then made his debut on the plate within the sixth inning two days later, pinch-hitting for starter Kyle Hendricks. The group at Wrigley gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the plate, and he drove the primary pitch he noticed over the ivy in heart subject.
Simply two years earlier, one other extremely touted Cubs prospect began his profession with a house run, however this one wasn’t at Wrigley. Jorge Soler made his debut batting fifth within the Cubs lineup on Aug. 27, 2014, and he drove a 2-1 pitch from Cincinnati’s Mat Latos over the fence. Nonetheless a rookie after solely 97 PAs in 2014, Soler was Baseball America’s No. 12 prospect heading into the 2015 season. Jurickson Profar has by no means fairly lived as much as the hype — he was BA’s No. 7 prospect heading into 2012 and the No. 1 prospect heading into 2013 — however he’s carved out a pleasant big-league profession. Profar was the youngest participant within the majors when he hit his no-doubt homer in his first AB for the Rangers on September 2, 2012.
Pitchers who rake(d not less than as soon as)
Most pitchers, again of their prep days, have been fairly good hitters, too. However by the point they attain the key leagues, these expertise have usually diminished. Not for these guys, tho.
Few pitchers are extra vocal about their love of hitting than Adam Wainwright, and rightfully so. He’s popped 10 residence runs in his profession, and batted .262 or higher in a season 3 times in his profession. Although he made his mark within the bigs as a starter, Wainwright was a reliever as a rookie in 2006, and he didn’t get an AB till his 19th sport within the majors. On Might 24, 2006, Wainwright entered within the fourth inning and gave up two runs in his first inning. Supervisor Tony La Russa left him in to steer off the fifth anyway, needing a number of innings from his rookie. He took a mighty swing on the first pitch he noticed and drilled it into the stands down the left-field line for a house run.
Hoyt Wilhelm acquired his first at-bat in his third profession sport, pitching in reduction on April 23, 1952. His fourth-inning residence run was the third homer the New York Giants hit that inning, and Wilhelm added an RBI ground-out within the fifth. Wilhelm was 29 years previous, and wound up main the NL with a 2.43 ERA, regardless of making all 71 of his appearances as a reliever. The knuckleballer’s Corridor of Fame profession lasted till 1972, however Wilhelm by no means hit one other homer and wound up with a profession .088 batting common in 432 ABs.
Daniel Norris made his pitching debut with the Blue Jays in 2014, then was traded to Detroit on the 2015 commerce deadline. His fourth begin for the Tigers was an interleague sport at Wrigley Area, and the left-handed swinging Norris confronted lefty Jon Lester. Undaunted, he drove a 1-1 fastball to useless heart. Esteban Yan made his mound debut in 1996, however (primarily) as a reliever within the AL, didn’t step to the plate for the primary time till June 4, 2000, his 133rd profession sport. He began for the Rays towards the Mets at Shea Stadium and, positive sufficient, popped the primary pitch he noticed from Bobby Jones over the fence in left subject. Tommy Milone didn’t have to attend almost that lengthy; he began the Nationals’ sport towards the Mets on Sept. 3, 2011 and despatched the primary pitch he noticed from Dillon Gee over the fence for a three-run homer that gave his membership a 5-Zero lead.
We’ve talked a couple of couple first-pitch hackers already, however listed here are just a few different notables who had no intention of working the depend of their first journey to the MLB dish. All complete, 28 gamers homered on the primary pitch they noticed within the bigs.
Akil Baddoo, as talked about up high, is the most recent member of the first-AB residence run membership. The Tigers picked him within the Rule 5 draft this previous offseason, and he did sufficient this spring — a .325 common and 5 homers — to earn a spot on the 2021 Opening Day roster. And on the primary pitch he noticed on Sunday, he tried to show that was the suitable selection. Baddo went reverse subject off Cleveland’s Aaron Civale to steer off the underside of the third inning. Bert Campaneris led the AL in stolen bases in his first 4 full seasons within the majors, however he was all in regards to the energy show in his first big-league sport, July 23, 1964. Not solely did Campaneris homer on the primary pitch he noticed, off Jim Kaat within the first inning, however he went deep within the seventh inning off Kaat, too. The second was a two-run shot that tied the sport, 3-3.
We opened with Keith McDonald’s residence run heroics, however he wasn’t the one Cardinals rookie to show first-AB energy in 2000. Simply 13 days after McDonald’s debut residence run, Chris Richard went deep on his first pitch in Minnesota, simply over the outstretched glove of Jacque Jones in heart subject. I’ll let McDonald inform that story.
“We get to the park early the following day, like rookies are speculated to, to get our work in earlier than all people else will get there,” McDonald mentioned. “And Kirby Puckett’s speaking to Tony La Russa in our clubhouse. La Russa says, ‘Do you need to meet Kirby?’ And, heck yeah in fact we did. He appears at Chris and says, ‘Are you the child who hit that residence run in his first at-bat yesterday?’ And Richie goes, ‘Yeah, that was me!’ Puckett says, ‘Son, you’ll have been 0-for-1 if I used to be enjoying heart subject.’ ”
Enjoyable truth: Because the begin of the 2000 season, eight Cardinals have hit residence runs of their first MLB at-bats — together with three reduction pitchers! The eight: McDonald (2000), Richard (2000), Gene Stechschulte (2001), Hector Luna (2004), Adam Wainwright (2006), Mark Worrell (2008), Paul De Jong (2017) and Lane Thomas (2019).