Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Historic debuts 20,000 days agoPosted by Chris Jaffe
Over a half-century later, it still wouldn't be wise to mess with Frank Robinson. (Icon/SMI)
20,000 days ago, four different Hall of Famers made their MLB debut. This marks the only time in history four HoFers debuted on the same day.
The greatest, by a damn good margin, was Frank Robinson. Playing left for the Reds that day, he went 2-for-3 with a walk – an intentional walk. It didn’t take long for hurlers to start respecting him at the plate. (Well, sort of. It came with two outs and runners on second and third: the opposition tried to set up a force everywhere. Then again, they’d also rather face Roy McMullen than Robinson.) In his first plate appearance, Robinson hit a ground-rule double. That sounds right.
In the AL, Luis Aparicio got his first start at short for the White Sox in a game against the Indians. Batting eighth, Aparicio flew out in his first trip to the plate, but ended the day with a single in three at-bats. He also made three putouts and an assist in the field.
On the mound, Walter Alston let a new kid pitch during the final inning of an 8-6 Dodgers loss to the Phillies: Don Drysdale. He got out of the inning without allowing a run. In garbage time, Drysdale’s first opponent fouled out. A little later, Drysdale got his first start.
The fourth and final Hall of Famer is Whitey Herzog, and yeah it’s cheating a bit to include him. After all, his playing career didn’t get him a plaque in Cooperstown. Still, he is a Hall of Famer, and he played in his first MLB game 20,000 days ago.
Herzog played right for the Senators as the Yankees killed them, 10-4. In Herzog’s first trip to the plate, Don Larsen whiffed him. Though Herzog played the entire game, Harmon Killebrew, who had only played 18 complete MLB games in his life at that point, came in to pinch hit (and struck out).
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.