Coming to the plate for your 1st at bat in the Majors must be a mixture of nervousness, excitement, bewilderment, and a bucketful of awesomeness. So striking out in that at bat is not uncommon, nor is it a sign of things to come. But hitting a home run in your 1st at bat must be the ultimate high. All those years of preparing for that moment, and you come through with the long ball. “I make this game look easy.”
Roughly 114 players have managed to hit a home run in their initial at bat, and for the most part it too is not a sign of things to come. For every Les Layton, Frank Ernaga and dozens of other no-namers that have accomplished this feat, there are very few Carlos Lee’s, Will Clark’s and Gary Gaetti’s that have actually left their marks in the game of baseball. (Incidentally Garry Gaetti’s 360 home runs is currently tops among the 1st timers, but Carlos Lee is just 2 behind.)
So how many 1st timers have gone on to the Hall of Fame? Most fans of baseball history will immediately shout out the name of Hoyt Wilhelm. Wilhelm made the Hall of Fame because of his pitching, his lifetime .088 average wasn’t something to brag about. But on April 23, 1952 Hoyt Wilhelm smacked a 2 run home run in his very 1st at bat. He would play 21 seasons and never hit another big fly. 1952 also saw Hoyt Wilhelm do something else he never did again. On July 15, 1952, Wilhelm led off the 8th inning with a single, and then was promptly thrown out stealing. Not sure what he was thinking, but he never tried to steal another base.
There are no pictures of Hoyt Wilhelm batting. I looked everywhere. I must have spent minutes looking! I’m thinking this whole home run thing is an urban legend, like bigfoot, or a Dane Cook joke that’s actually funny.
So, who was the other Hall of Famer to hit a home run in his 1st at bat? None other than the Earl of Snohomish, Earl Averill. On April 16, 1929 Averill hit a 1st inning solo home run, kick starting his Hall of Fame career. Averill went on to hit another 237 home runs while compiling a lifetime .318 average. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, and is also a member of my Nickname Hall of Fame. How can someone called the Earl of Snohomish not be successful?
It’s always nice to have a baseball card in my possession that I can use in a post. Especially nice for the Earl of Snohomish.
Maybe I should start calling myself the Earl of Scranton. That would certainly turns some heads, don’t you think?
Blog post respectively submitted by,
Kevin G.- Earl of Scranton (It’s empowering, that’s for sure.)