Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hall of Famers' First Major League Home Runs

Most ballplayers remember their first Major League home run. They can tell you the pitcher and in some cases the exact date. A long time ago I set out to compile a list of each Major Leaguer's first gopher ball victim, but the project fell by the wayside for whatever reason. I remember Kevin Gross' name showing up a lot, and there was the oddity of David Ross hitting his off Mark Grace pitching mop-up in a blowout. I don't see myself continuing it anytime soon, but it was fun while it lasted.

Now that Baseball-Reference has incorporated home run data into its player pages, a list like that isn't necessary. Still, I got curious to find out which pitchers gave up the first home runs of each Hall of Famer. If anything interesting could come from looking up this stuff, then dagnabbit, I was going to find it.

The BB-Ref database doesn't include homers hit in the National Association, so Jim O'Rourke, Al Spalding, George Wright and Harry Wright had to have their names left off the list. Of the other enshrinees though, here's what I found:

No fewer than 16 pitchers show up twice. These doubly-victimized hurlers are: Pete Alexander, Tommy Bond, George Bradley, Rube Geyer, George Haddock, Earl Hamilton, Walter Johnson, Lindy McDaniel, Hal Newhouser, Vic Raschi, Slim Sallee, Urban Shocker, Warren Spahn, Don Sutton, Will White and Earl Whitehill.

Only one pitcher shows up more than twice, and that's Gerry Staley, tater-allower to the stars. If you don't count the NA as a Major League, George Bradley was Jim O'Rourke's first victim in the NL.

Both players who hit theirs against Rube Geyer made the Hall as managers rather than players (Bill McKechnie and Casey Stengel).

28 batters hit their first homers off a future Hall of Famer. That list includes: Luis Aparicio, Harold Baines, Craig Biggio, Lou Boudreau, George Brett, Willard Brown, Gary Carter, Jack Chesbro, John Clarkson, Red Faber, Frankie Frisch, Goose Goslin, Carl Hubbell, Ferguson Jenkins, Sandy Koufax, Bob Lemon, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Eddie Plank, Nolan Ryan, Ray Schalk, Al Simmons, Lee Smith, Billy Southworth, Sam Thompson, Pie Traynor, Lloyd Waner and Hack Wilson.

Once again, if you don't count the NA as a major league, the number is higher. George Wright's first NL homer came against Al Spalding.

Nine players on that list were pitchers themselves.

To be fair, Luis Aparicio's homer was against Tommy Lasorda, a Hall of Fame manager but an unsuccessful pitcher. Still, it technically counts.

Ray Schalk, whose career homer total was a mere 11, hit his first one against the legendary Walter Johnson.

I suppose it's nothing groundbreaking, but it's fun all the same. If you're curious about a particular Hall of Famer, here's the full list, in chronological order:

Last updated January 23, 2019

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blog Update, Plus an Old Curiosity

If anyone out there regularly checks this blog (which doesn't appear to be the case according to Google Analytics), I apologize for the lack of updates recently. I've been overwhelmed with work and a baseball research project I've been putting together for a while now, so writing up a season summary for the next World Series winner profile seems like a relatively low priority. I promise I'll get back to that stuff eventually, since, you know, there has to be another internet user out there who finds those types of things interesting.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share something interesting I noticed back in my teenage years. This blog was created for posting baseball junk, and if this item doesn't qualify as "baseball junk" I don't know what does.

When Jermaine Dye was called up by the Atlanta Braves in 1996 he was given uniform number 24. I still remember that he hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat, because it was played on every single highlight show, it seemed. Strange to think that in those days the Braves experienced Yankees-and-Red Sox-like levels of popularity.

Before the 1997 season the Braves traded Dye to the Royals. In that trade they got a new right fielder, Michael Tucker. Tucker's uniform number in Atlanta? 24.

After two seasons of league-average offense from a corner outfield position the Braves traded Tucker to the Reds. In that trade the Braves got Bret Boone, who, like Tucker before him, inherited the Braves' number 24 jersey.

Boone lasted only one season in Atlanta before he was sent to San Diego. One of the players the Braves got back from the Padres was Wally Joyner, who, you guessed it, was assigned number 24.

The string ended when Joyner left as a free agent after the 2000 season, but it was impressive while it lasted. Has there ever been another case where four straight players who were all linked through trades wore the same number for one team?