We wouldn’t we all like that one chance to put our names into the Encyclopedia of Baseball. Here are two players whose one-game careers were polar opposites in terms of outcome – but were no doubt equal in terms of thrills.
RON WRIGHT. Three at bats – six outs – and done.
Attitude is everything – and we could all learn a lot from Ron Wright, a one-time MLB prospect who calls his one-game major league career “the best day of my professional life,” despite the fact that he accounted for an amazing 6 outs in only three at bats. Starting his first – and only – game after being called up in April 2002 by the Mariners, Wright began his ML career by striking out with two on in the second inning – and it was all downhill from there. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, the 6’ 1”, 230-pound first baseman was a legitimate prospect, and a three-time minor league all-star. Selected by the Braves (right out of high school) in the seventh round of the 1994 draft, Wright hit 32 home runs for the Macon Braves as a 19-year-old. He added another 36 minor league dingers for the Durham Bulls and Greenville Braves the next year. Wright was traded to the Pirates in 1996, and would later play in the Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Seattle systems. Injuries, however, took him off track in short order. Wright missed most of the 1998 and 1999 seasons with a back injury, but worked hard to regain his prospect status. In 2001, playing for the Durham Bills, he hit .262 with 20 homeruns and was considered the International League’s top fielding first-sacker. The following season, an injury to Seattle DH Edgar Martinez led to an April call-up to the Seattle Mariners. On April 14 he started (and ended) his ML experience in a game won (at Texas) by Seattle 9-7, with Seattle getting 18 hits. Wright’s day went like this.
- Second Inning: With Ruben Sierra on second and John Olerud on first, Wright took a called third strike from Rangers’ starter Kenny Rogers
- Fourth Inning: With Sierra on third and Olerud on first, Wright hit a grounder to Rogers, who threw to SS Alex Rodriguez at second for the force. Sierra, who had broken for home, was caught in a SS-C-3B-P rundown for a second out, and Wright who tried to take second during the run down was thrown out P-2B. An unusual triple play.
- Sixth inning: Again up with both Sierra and Olerud on base (second and first, respectively), Wright hit into a more traditional short-to-second-to first double play.
- Seventh Inning: Up again with Sierra and Olerud on base (first and third) with one out, Mike McLemore pinch hit for Wright (ending Wright’s ML stat line). McLemore, by the way, struck out.
Wright went back down to the minors before getting another ML at bat and never made it back. (He did hit .273 with 15 HRs for Tacoma in 2002). So, his major league career consisted of three at bats and six outs – strikeout, triple play, double play. And, as for that fielding expertise, Wright’s spent his short ML career as a DH. Still, in all his interviews since then, Wright had indicated he cherishes the game and the fact that he is one of the rare few who did make it to the major leagues.
JOHN PACIOREK. Career On Base Percentage 1.000 – and done.
On the other side of the coin, we have John Paciorek, who enjoyed a banner day in his only major league appearance. A 6’ 1”, 200-pound outfielder, Paciorek was called up by the Houston Colt .45s (yes, that was their original name) in September of 1963. The 18-year-old got into his only major league game on September 29, starting the last game of the season (at home against the Mets) in right field and hitting seventh. It was a 13-4 Houston victory and Paciorek ended up with three hits and two walks in five plate appearances, with 2 runs scored and three runs batted in. It was a rather surprising ML debut for Paciorek, who was hitting just .219 for Modesto when he was called up (and who went on to hit over .250 in only one of his 6 minor league seasons.) Like Wright, back surgery played a role in Paciorek’s brief career. The surgery came in 1964; Paciorek missed all of 1965 and ended his playing career in 1969 without ever getting back to the “bigs.” His one game went like this:
Second Inning: With Houston 3B Bobby Aspromonte on first with two out, Paciorek walked and later scored on a triple by C John Batemen.
Fourth Inning: With the based loaded (1B Rusty Staub on third, Aspromonte on second, CF Ivan Murrell on first), Paciorek singled, driving in two. Later he scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Pete Runnels.
Fifth Inning: With Aspromonte and third with one out, Paciorek singled for another RBI. Later, he scored on a single by SS Bob Lillis.
Sixth Inning: Paciorek walked with one out, later scored on another Lillis’ single.
Eighth Inning: Paciorek led off with a single.
Short, but spectacular ML career. Oh, and another factoid, Paciorek is the brother of Tom Paciorek, who enjoyed a solid 18-year major league career.