First Impressions Aren’t Always Lasting

On April 23, 1952, Hoyt Wilhelm, a rookie with the New York Giants, stepped to the plate and in his first major league at-bat clouted a home run at the Polo Grounds..

A right-handed knuckleballer, Wilhelm went on to record his first major league win that day as the Giants beat the Boston Braves, 9-5.

It marked  the start of a storied 21-year career that saw him post a 143-122 record, a 2.52 ERA and 227 saves with nine different teams. As a Baltimore Oriole, Wilhelm pitched a no-hitter against the Yankees in 1958.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.

No More Homers
Hoyt Wilhelm would come to bat 431 more times in his career, finishing with a .088 batting average. He never hit another home run.

Wilhelm is one of 100 players throughout baseball history who homered in their first  at bat. Of the remaining 99, only Cleveland outfielder Earl Averill went yard to begin his major league career.

Averill homered against the Tigers on opening day in 1929. He wound up with 238 home runs and a .318 lifetime average, and was a six-time All -Star.

Of those 100 players, only three hit grand slams — Bill Duggleby of the Phillies in 1898, Jeremy Hermida of the Marlins in 2006 and Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Indians in 2006.

First Pitch, Grand Slam
Kouzmanoff hit his grand slam on the first pitch he saw, one of just 22 rookies to accomplish that feat.

Only Bob Nieman of the St. Louis Browns in 1951 and Keith McDonald of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000 homered in their first two at- bats.

Former Minnesota Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti wound up with 360 homers, the most of any player who homered in his first at-bat. Only five others — Averill, Bill White, Tim Wallach, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Lee — hit as many as 200 homers in their careers.

Earlier this year, Atlanta Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer became the 100th and latest player to homer in his first at-bat.


2 Comments on “First Impressions Aren’t Always Lasting”

  1. Ed says:

    And current Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland is the only guy to give up a HR to the first batter he faced, and then hit a HR in HIS first at bat.

    • sportslifer says:

      That’s right Ed. In his major league debut with the Yankees on Aug. 3, 1988, Dave Eiland gave up a home run to ventual Hall of Famer Paul Molitor on his first pitch. Eiland threw seven innings of three-hit ball that day and left with a 5-1 lead, but the Yankee bullpen blew the game as the Brewers rallied with five in the eighth for a 6-5 win in Milwaukee.

      Nearly four years later, on April 10, 1992, pitching for the Padres against the Dodgers, Eiland hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat. He pitched four innings that night and left with no decision in the Padres eventual 8-3 win in San Diego.

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