Being a Major League baseball player is hard, and nothing might be harder than that very first at bat. Coming up to the plate against your first Major League pitcher, you hear the cheers at home or the boos on the road, but most of all you just hear the word in your head: "make it worth it." How many players have come up to bat their first time only to head back to the dugout with a lifetime .000 average? Countless. How many have gone to the plate with doubt in their minds, only to return there four bases later with a perfect career average?
Fifty-two American League players have homered in their first at-bat. Seventy-one National League players have homered in their first at-bat. Two from the now defunct American Association.
Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron didn't do it, but Hall of Fame Pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm did homer in his first at-bat! Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds, arguably the game's greatest sluggers didn't either, but virtual unknowns Ace Parker, Dan Bankhead, and Cuno Barragan did dinger to start their big league careers. How does someone hit a home run in his first major league at bat? Is it talent? Poise? Or just beginner's luck? Whatever it is, these ballplayers had it.
Consider the numbers: Thirty of these players didn't even have to wait until the second pitch; they hit their dingers on the first major league pitch they ever saw. Twenty-two did not hit another major league home run. Only four men hit their home runs with the bases loaded — Bill Duggleby on April 21, 1898; Jeremy Hermida, one-hundred seven years later, on August 31, 2005; Kevin Kouzmanoff on September 2, 2006; and, finally, Daniel Nava on June 12, 2010. Four of these players made their major league debut with one team and had to wait to have their first at-bat when they played for a different team.
These 123 Major League Baseball players stepped up and made themselves memorable (beyond just becoming a big leaguer). Baseball Almanac is pleased to present these fabulous first at-bat home run swatters.
"Power is fine as long as it's consistent." - Whitey Lockman (who hit a home run during his first career at-bat with the New York Giants on July 5, 1945) in the Christian Science Monitor (03/13/1974, Page 17)
A.L. Batters/ChronologicalOrder / First Pitch
N.L. Batters/ChronologicalOrder / First Pitch
Hoyt Wilhelm , a future National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, hit a home run during his first at-bat and then had a twenty-one year career without hitting one more long ball. Too easy? Did you know that both Ernie Koy ( Brooklyn Dodgers ) and Heinie Mueller ( Philadelphia Phillies ) hit their home runs on the same exact date in the same game in the same inning (top and bottom of the first inning respectively), and it just happened to be on Opening Day ?
The chart above covers every instance where a National League or American League player hit a home run in their first at-bat; however, two players from the American Association (a defunct Major League) are part of the "club" as well: Mike Griffin (Age = 22.027 / Team = Baltimore Orioles) and George Tebeau (Age = 25.111 / Team = Cincinnati Red Stockings), each hit a home run in their first at-bat on the same exact date, April 16, 1887!
On April 21, 1898, Bill Duggleby became the first player on this page whose home run was a grand slam. On June 25, 1968 , Bobby Bonds hit a grand slam during his first Major League game (like Duggleby ), but it was during his third at-bat. On August 31, 2005 , Duggleby'a feat was finally (107 years later) matched by Florida Marlins prospect Jeremy Hermida . On September 2, 2006 , Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Cleveland Indians took it one step further when he became the first player ever whose first home run was a grand slam which was hit with the first major league pitch he ever saw. On June 12, 2010 , Daniel Nava of the Boston Red Sox did it with the first pitch he ever saw as well, and it happened during an Interleague game!
Bob Nieman , who hit a home run in his first at-bat on September 14, 1951 , and Keith McDonald , who hit a home run in his first at-bat on July 4, 2000 , are the only two players in Major League history to hit another home run during their second consecutive at-bat — Nieman did it during the same game & McDonald did it during his next game played on July 6, 2000 .