Yesterday, (June 19, 2016), Wilson Contreras got his first major league at bat, pinch-hitting in the sixth inning of the Cubs 10-5 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Contreras hit the first pitch from Pirates’ righty A.J. Schugel for a two-run home home run – becoming the thirtieth player in MLB history to home on the first pitch they ever saw.
BBRT would like to use Contreras’ accomplishment as an opportunity to take an updated look at those first-pitch dingers. (A little teaser to begin with. Depending on how you count, either 23 percent or 27 percent of the members of the first-pitch-ever HR club are pitchers … one was a pitcher, but being used as a pinch-hitter. Just another reason BBRT hates the DH.)
- Homering on the first-ever MLB pitch has been accomplished 15 times in each league, with the feat accomplished by players from 18 of the 30 MLB franchises. Contributing to that balance is Washington D.C., which has seen the first-ever-pitch home runs accomplished by both an American Leaguer (Brant Alyea, Senators) and a National Leaguer (Tommy Malone, Nationals).
- The Cardinals have the most first-ever-pitch home run hitters with four. The AL leader is the Blue Jays with three.
- Of the 30 first-pitch-ever HRs, 19 were solo shots, six were two-run homers, three were three-run home runs and two were grand slams.
- The two MLB players who have launched a Grand Slam on the first major league pitch they ever saw are Kevin Kouzmanoff for the Indians on September 2, 2006 and Daniel Nava for the Red Sox on June 12, 2010.
- The first-ever first-pitch home run was hit on May 7, 1922, by Pirates’ RF Walter Mueller (a three-run shot). Mueller went two-for-five that day, with two runs and five RBI. He hit only two home runs in a four-year MLB career (121 games).
- The first American Leaguer to homer on the first pitch he ever saw was Red Sox’ LHP Bill LeFevbre (June 10, 1938). While it was LeFebvre’s only MLB home run, he was a respectable hitter over his four-season MLB career (.276 average in 87 at bats). Unfortunately, on the mound, he posted a 5.03 ERA.
Gene Stechschulte – a 6’ 5”, 210-pound right-handed pitcher – is the only MLB pitcher to homer on the first pitch he ever saw, while being used as a pinch-hitter. Stechschulte’s homer (a two-run shot) came in the sixth inning of a Cardinals’ 17-4 loss to the Diamondbacks (April 17, 2001). It was only Stechschulte’s second professional at bat – and his second extra base hit. He had one minor league at bat (in 204 games) collecting a double. In his MLB career, three seasons, 116 games (all in relief), Stechschulte came to bat just five times – collecting two hits (the initial home run and a single).
- The most career home runs by a player who homered on the first MLB pitch he ever saw is 195 by Jay Bell (first-pitch HR at 2B for the Indians on September 29, 1986 – 18-season MLB career). Bell also has the mark for the most home runs hit in any subsequent season by a member of the first-pitch HR club at 38 (for the Diamondbacks in 1999).
- The most home runs hit the season the player hit his first-pitch HR is 14 by outfielder Chris Richard (first-pitch homer for the Cardinals on July 17, 2000). Richard hit 34 home runs in five MLB seasons,with a high of 15 for the Orioles in 2001.)
- Seven of the 29 players to hit first-pitch-ever dingers were pitchers (eight if you count pitcher Gene Stechschulte, who was being used as a pinch hitter when he accomplished the feat for the Cardinals on April 17, 2001). The other hurlers: Bill LeFebvre (Red Sox); Don Rose (Angels); Esteban Yan (Rays); Clise Dudley (Brooklyn Robins); Jim Bullinger (Cubs); Adam Wainwright (Cardinals); Tommy Milone (Nationals).
- By the position they were playing, here is the first-pitch home run hitter count: pinch hitters (8); pitchers (7); left fielders (4); right fielders (3); first baseman (2); shortstops (2); designated hitters (2); second baseman (1); catchers (1).
- Only two players hit a second round tripper in the same game in which they achieved their first-pitch HR. On July 23, 1964, A’s shortstop Bert Campaneris went three-for-four, with two homers, two runs and three RBI as his Kansas City Athletics topped the Twins 4-3 in eleven innings. On August 2, 2010, Blue Jays’ catcher J.P. Arencibia went four-for-five with two homers, a double, three runs and three RBI as the Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay 17-11. Arencibia is the only member of the first-pitch-ever HR club to also collect four hits in the same game.
- Rays RHP Esteban Yan hit a long ball on the first pitch he ever saw in the big leagues (June 4, 2000). He went on to hit 1.000 for his career – although he had only two at bats in 11 seasons (a single and that initial HR).
Finally, the list:
Walter Mueller, RF, Pirates … May 7, 1922
Clise Dudley, P, Robins (Dodgers) … April 27, 1929
Eddie Morgan, PH, Cardinals … April 14, 1936
Bill LeFevbre, P, Red Sox … June 10, 1938
Clyde Vollmer, LF, Reds … May 31, 1942
George (Sam) Vico, 1B, Tigers … April 20, 1948
Chuck Tanner, PH, Braves … April 12, 1955
Bert Campaneris, SS, Athletics (KC) … July 23, 1964
Brant Alyea, PH, Senators … September 12, 1965
Don Rose, P, Angels … May 24, 1972
Al Woods, PH, Blue Jays … April 7, 1977
Jay Bell, 2B, Indians … September 29, 1986
Junior Felix, DH, Blue Jays … May 4, 1989
Jim Bullinger, P, Cubs … June 8 1992
Jay Gainer, 1B, Rockies … May 14, 1993
Esteban Yan, P, Rays … June 4, 2000
Chris Richard, LF, Cardinals … July 17, 2000
Gene Stechschulte, PH, Cardinals … April 17, 2001
Marcus Thames, RF, Yankees … June 10, 2002
Kaz Matsui, SS, Mets … April 6, 2004
Andy Phillips, PH, Yankees … September 26, 2004
Adam Wainwright, P, Cardinals … May 24, 2006
Kevin Kouzmanoff, DH, Indians …September 2, 2006
Mark Saccomanno, PH, Astros … September 8, 2008
Daniel Nava, LF, Red Sox … June 12, 2010
J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays … August 7, 2010
Tommy Milone, P, Nationals … September 3, 2011
Starling Marte, LF, Pirates … July 26, 2012
Eddie Rosario, RF, Twins … May 6, 2015
Wilson Contreras, PH, Cubs … June 19, 2016
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