Once Upon A Time: When Hall of Famers Go One-And-Done

Randy Johnson hit just one home run in his Hall of Fame career. (via Dirk Hansen)

On September 19, 2003, at Miller Park, a man without a mullet departed the right-hand batter’s box and embarked upon his first full circuit of the big league bases. When he touched home plate, 39-year-old Randy Johnson–whose trademark ’do, it must be noted, was at last a thing of the past–had hit his premier home run in The Show. In so doing, Johnson had joined the biblical Samson as a guy who, just this once, displayed remarkable strength after bidding farewell to his signature locks.

It wasn’t just his first home run, you see.

It would be his only home run.

Johnson is hardly alone, however, in being a Hall of Famer who notched a solitary feat in a career otherwise defined by a plurality of counting numbers. Indeed, the majority of inner-circle Cooperstown guys are, in one way or another, One-Timers.

To wit:

Like Johnson’s, some stand-alone acts are not surprising. After all, Johnson notched only 78 hits in 625 regular-season at-bats, for a batting average of .125. In short, he was a dreadful hitter, a man who, by comparison, made Mario Mendoza look like a frightful mashup of Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. When he did hit the ball, he lacked anything resembling pop. His .152 slugging percentage accounted for 14 two-baggers and that single, solitary, solo home run. Alas, the Big Unit didn’t hit a single triple.

Phil Niekro did.

On August 14, 1975, the 36-year-old Knucksie stepped to the plate in the fourth inning of the Braves’ game against the Cardinals and socked a Lynn McGlothen offering into left field for his first–and ultimately last–three-bagger. In the final analysis, Niekro’s triple would rank as slightly less shocking than Johnson’s dinger.

Or would it?

Across his 24 seasons, Niekro batted just .169 but did crank seven homers. Triples are rarer than round-trippers, of course, accounting for roughly three percent of base hits across major league history. Homers, on the other hand, have represented about 10 percent of base hits since the end of the Dead Ball Era. With a one-to-seven ratio of triples to home runs, Niekro was about par for the course. Or was he?

Seen differently, his one triple in 1,537 at-bats is something of a bogey, is it not?

It’s a ghost, a statistical phantom, and pretty bizarre. Is it more shocking, then, that Niekro, in his quarter century in the bigs, hit one triple and not more?

Even more shocking, and undoubtedly so, is the one-and-done of Ted Williams. True, Teddy Ballgame did pitch in one game–and one game only–but that’s not what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about, what everybody should be talking about, is the ultra-surprising fact that history’s greatest hitter posted as many postseason RBI as did pitcher Tom Seaver.

That lone RBI came in Game Five of the 1946 World Series, when Williams plated Johnny Pesky with a first-inning single off St. Louis starter Howie Pollet. All told, Williams would register an equally surprising five hits–all singles–in his 25 postseason at-bats, each in that seven-game loss to St. Louis. Indeed, just as shocking as his one RBI is his one postseason.

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Robin Roberts, too, is a Hall of Famer who played in only one postseason. In fact, for all his six-adjacent achievements–six straight 20-win seasons; six straight seasons leading baseball in starts; six straight seasons leading baseball in complete games–Roberts posted only one postseason decision. It was a loss, and, ouch, not just any loss. In Game Two of the 1950 World Series, the Phillies ace yielded a solo homer to Joe DiMaggio to lead off the Yankees’ 10th. That lone shot would give Roberts that lone loss, and by that lone run. Final score: 2-1.

Roberts was just 23 years old at the time, and even after that 10-inning complete-game heartbreaker, he figured to get one more shot. He did not.

Following his own first postseason, in 1998, fellow ace Pedro Martinez got nine more shots. Across those 10 postseason series, which included one World Series as a winner and one as a loser, Martinez reached base one time and one time only. It happened in the sixth inning of Game Three of the 2004 World Series, when Martinez took a full-count offering from Cardinals reliever Kiko Calero to work a one-out walk.

As if the baseball gods recognized that a man who would end his career with a .099 batting average and a .134 on-base percentage should not have reached base even once, teammate Johnny Damon promptly hit into an inning-ending double play.

Pedro’s achievement, if you can call it that, isn’t shocking one way or the other. Postseason play lends itself not only to the small sample size but also to the bizarre outlier that gets blown out of statistical proportion precisely because it occurred in the postseason and not in game 127 of the regular season. (Note: It probably did occur in game 127 of the regular season.)

Take Rickey Henderson. The 25-year veteran grounded into one–and only one–postseason double play. But, wow, was it a big one. It happened in Game Two of the 1981 ALDS. With one out (naturally), the bases loaded, and his A’s holding a 3-1 lead, Henderson hit a 1-0 pitch from Yankees reliever George Frazier back to the mound. Frazier fielded the ball and tossed it to catcher Rick Cerone for the force at home plate. Cerone then fired it to first baseman Bob Watson for the twin killing to end the Oakland rally. The Yankees went on to win, 13-3, but who knows–answer: no one–what might’ve happened had Henderson not hit into a 1-2-3 DP?

Keep in mind, however, that Henderson did hit into 172 career double plays, an average of nearly seven per season. He played in 60 postseason games. So, statistically, that one GDP represented less than half his season average.

In short, it’s explicable, much like Mel Ott’s one postseason GDP and one postseason intentional walk. Less explicable is the solitary feat that exceeds the parameters of the small sample size. Take Cap Anson. Like Teddy Ballgame, Anson posted just one postseason RBI. What’s surprising is that he recorded that solitary ribbie in 47 at-bats while notching a .340 batting average and .841 OPS. That, reader, is some rotten postseason luck.

In other cases, a solitary achievement does not defy the statistical norm. Instead, it owes itself entirely to postseason play. Take Greg Maddux. In regular-season play, Mad Dog posted 355 victories and zero saves. In postseason play, he posted 11 victories and one save. It happened in Game Five of the 1998 NLCS. After Atlanta reliever Kerry Ligtenberg surrendered a ninth-inning two-run homer to shrink Atlanta’s lead to one run against the Padres, Braves manager Bobby Cox brought in his No. 1 pitcher to finish it. Maddux did, retiring Tony Gwynn for that one final out.

Again, it’s not shocking. But it’s not trivial, either.

Equally unshocking, but definitely trivial, is the one-and-done shared by Christy Mathewson, Phil Niekro, and Sandy Koufax. Nope, we’re not talking about Niekro’s triple. Koufax never hit a triple. Mathewson hit 12. Rather, while noting that Niekro is a Two-Time One-Timer, our topic is that each is credited with one caught stealing.

The difference? While Mathewson is credited with 20 career thefts, Koufax and Niekro are credited with zero. That’s right: each was gunned down in his lone try.

For Koufax, the aborted theft occurred on July 3, 1961, against the Braves. With the scored knotted at 2-2, Koufax led off the seventh inning with a bunt single. A sacrifice bunt moved Koufax to second, and a single pushed him to third. Next, per the play-by-play, Willie Davis struck out swinging and Koufax–get this–was “caught stealing home.” Repeat: Sandy Koufax was caught stealing home.

Ultimately, the TOOTBLAN didn’t matter. LA won by one. Final score: 3-2.

More damaging, perhaps, was Niekro’s lone CS. It happened on June 13, 1976. In the bottom of the second of Atlanta’s game versus Pittsburgh, Niekro beat out a two-out infield single to score Ken Henderson from third. Perhaps high on adrenaline or overly confident in his newly discovered wheels, Niekro then attempted a steal of second with Rowland Office at the plate. It failed. Duffy Dyer gunned him out.

Keep in mind that Niekro was 37 years old.

True, he would play to age 48, but 37 is 37.

In the end, the Braves would lose to the Pirates by–you guessed it–one. Final score: 6-5. Of course, it’s foolish to embrace the fallacy of the foregone conclusion … or the predetermined outcome … or whatever you wanna call it. Who knows what might’ve happened in the counterfactual reality of a successful theft by a 37-year-old knuckleballer? But know this: leading off the bottom of the third, Office singled.

As for Mathewson, his one CS is another matter altogether–and not just because he is credited with 20 stolen bases. The bigger factor is this: in 15 of his 17 big league seasons, no one kept track of the caught-stealing stat. It’s possible, indeed probable, Big Six got nabbed more than once.

We are left with one conclusion: who knows?

In any case, Big Six stands with Sandy and Phil as a statistical One-Timer.

***

What some One-Timers have in common is one time at one position.

Willie Mays played third base once, and only once.

So did Ty Cobb.

Mays had his hot-corner day because of an injury. In the second inning of the Dodgers-Giants game on August 26, 1964, a relay throw from LA shortstop Maury Wills hit Giants third baseman Jim Ray Hart on the hand. Out he went. The box score would be weird. Willie Mays CF – 3B – CF – 3B. In the midst of the switching, Mays handled one–count it, one–defensive chance, fielding a Dick Tracewski grounder and firing it to first baseman Orlando Cepeda for the putout.

Cobb had his hot-corner contest for a different reason. Not only was it the second game of a doubleheader, it was also the 1918 season finale. Even for the hard-charging Cobb, it was time to mess around. The Peach not only played third base in that game against the White Sox, he also pitched, yielding three hits and one run in two innings. Still, Cobb would end his 24-year career with three games on the mound but just one at third base.

Roberto Clemente, too, played a single game at third. Aged 21 and in his second season, he was part of a multiplayer switch in the eighth inning of the Cardinals-Pirates game on May 22, 1956, going from right field to the hot corner. There, in the top of the ninth, he booted a Grady Hatton sac bunt. Hatton would later score. It didn’t matter. The Cards won by three, and the Pirates would finish seventh.

Like Clemente, Hall of Fame right fielder Al Kaline finished one game at third base. Unlike Clemente, he started the game there. An Associated Press story, headlined simply “Kaline Plays Third Base,” would provide the account.

“Maybe after they see me play third base for one game,” said Al Kaline, “they won’t want to see me there anymore.”

But it didn’t turn out so badly Tuesday night for the veteran Detroit outfielder as he played in the infield for the first time in his professional career. Manager Bob Scheffing made the shift because of injuries to third baseman Steve Boros and shortstop Chico Fernandez

…Kaline was not very busy in his first game at third base after eight seasons in the outfield. He had only two chances, retiring Billy Klaus on a pop foul in the third and throwing out Gene Green in the seventh.

The Detroit manager said before the game he had no hesitation in tapping Kaline for the new job.

“He can play anywhere,” said Scheffing. “He’s a good ballplayer, as long as he can hit.”

Yeah, Kaline could hit. And he did, slapping a run-scoring single and a run-scoring double as the first-place Tigers nipped the Senators by one. Final score: 5-4.

In other instances, a future Hall of Famer has shifted from the hot corner to another position. Mike Schmidt had one start–indeed, one “complete game”–at second base. In 1972, the first-year player made one error in those eight innings of keystone-corner work, booting a grounder off the bat of catcher Tim McCarver in a game against the Expos.

For his part, Chipper Jones played one game in right field, posting one assist by throwing out Montreal’s Mark Grudzielanek at the plate in a 1995 game. In similar numerical fashion, Wade Boggs posted one putout in left field. On the other hand–okay, the same hand, but you get the idea–Hall of Fame third sacker George Brett made one error at shortstop by booting a grounder off the bat of Bobby Bonds.

Other Hall of Famers have posted one chance at one position.

Johnny Bench, like Chipper Jones, posted one assist from right field.

Ken Griffey Jr. posted one putout at first base.

Nap Lajoie registered one putout in left field.

Jimmie Foxx notched one assist in his one game at shortstop.

Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman, had one chance in center field.

Their achievements share a numerical value; their stories merge and diverge. With his Mariners mired in fourth place in the 1993 AL West, Griffey switched to first base in the season’s penultimate game. Who would it hurt? Answer: no one. Junior posted his putout when reliever Jeff Nelson fielded a comebacker and threw it to the bag.

It’s now in the books, the loneliest number, with his 5,147 putouts in center field.

Like Griffey, Lajoie got his different-position chance because his team was hopelessly out of the race. With a record of 19-65 entering play on July 28, 1916, Connie Mack’s A’s were just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic when they sent Lajoie to left field, where he made his lone statistical mark.

On the contrary, the 1975 Reds were en route to 108 wins and a World Series crown when, on September 8, they positioned their All-Star catcher in right field for the third and final time of the season. There, in the bottom of the sixth inning, Bench gunned down fellow future Hall member Dave Winfield as he attempted to stretch a double into a triple, ending the Padres’ six-run frame.

Foxx got his one inning at shortstop in the bottom of the ninth after his A’s scored five runs in the top half to tie the White Sox, 8-8, on August 27, 1916. There, Foxx fielded a grounder off the bat of Jimmie Dykes, looked Evar Swanson back to second base, and fired to first for the second out. It was his first and only shortstop assist. Fellow future Hall of Famer Al Simmons then singled home Swanson for the winner.

As for Morgan, the Astros second baseman made consecutive starts in center field on April 18 and 19, 1969. Oddly, across his 17 innings there, he registered just one defensive chance, catching a fifth-inning sacrifice fly that scored the Dodgers’ Tom Haller from third base in the April 18 game. In his second game in center field, Morgan went nine innings with no action. It’s as if the baseball gods understood his one true position and sought to eliminate statistical evidence to the contrary.

Afterward, Morgan returned to his rightful place at second base. There, on April 20 against the Dodgers, he recorded the Astros’ first defensive out.

***

Some players have had age to thank–or blame, as the case may be–for their single mark at a certain position. For Joe DiMaggio, his one and only game at first base came in the same campaign in which he hit that solo home run off Philadelphia starter Robin Roberts in Game Two of the World Series. Long before his late-season surge and postseason heroics, however, Joe D had begun to show his age–35, to be specific–by struggling at both the plate and in the field. Entering the Yankees’ July 3, 1950, contest against the Senators at Washington’s Griffith Park, DiMaggio was batting an un-Joe-like .262. What’s more, in center field, his RF/9 (range factor per nine innings) had slipped below league average for the third consecutive season.

At the time, the Yankees had a wealth of outfielders but a dearth of first basemen. Johnny Mize was old, Tommy Henrich weak, and Joe Collins bad. And so, given the circumstances, manager Casey Stengel decided to start his famed center fielder at the first sack. Today, a look at the box score might indicate that Joe D’s day at Position 3 went pretty well. He posted 13 putouts in the Yankees’ 7-2 loss and not a single error.

Statistics, though, can be deceiving. According to witnesses, DiMaggio failed in the eye test. His F-minus moment occurred on a swinging bunt down the first-base line in the seventh inning: reacting as a first baseman should, Joe D raced toward the ball. Pitcher Tom Ferrick arrived there first, however, and yelled, “I got it!” Scrambling back to the bag, DiMaggio tripped and fell to his knees. The base runner, Irv Noren, nearly stepped on the Yankee Clipper. Photographers caught the moment in all its ignominy–the famed DiMaggio on hands and knees, helpless.

The following day, the sports pages made sure the moment survived.

“He was furious to look so clumsy,” Ferrick would say. “He was enraged.”

Better, by far, was Jimmie Foxx’s lone win as a pitcher, in 1945.

Mind you, Double X had toed a major league rubber once–though only once!–before that age-37 season, his last in the major leagues. Indeed, in 1939 with the Red Sox, he had indulged his longtime desire to pitch in a major league game by going one inning, the ninth, in Boston’s 10-1 blowout loss to the Tigers on August 6 at Fenway Park. Perhaps in a sign of things to come, he had performed well, retiring all three batters he faced–one on a popup, one on a grounder, one on a whiff.

Foxx, in fact, had pitched twice in 1945 prior to that lone victory, going a combined 4.2 innings of scoreless relief across a pair of July games for the woeful Phillies. The main reason for his place on the mound, and on the roster, was the same reason a lot of career minor leaguers got to call themselves major leaguers: World War II. The player shortages the war had created allowed old-timers like Foxx, who, a year earlier, had been a coach and scout with the Cubs, one last shot at big league play.

“It’s his only chance to stay active in the big leagues,” Phillies manager Ben Chapman had said, “and I’m going to see that he has a fair one. If there’s one thing the Phillies need more than anything else, it is pitchers, and then more pitchers.”

Indeed, the Phillies would use a whopping 22 pitchers that season. Sixteen would get at least two starts, and one was the man who took the mound on August 19 at Philly’s Shibe Park. Facing the Reds, Double X retired the first batter he faced, leadoff man Dain Clay, and then issued walks to the next two batters. He wriggled out of the jam by coaxing an inning-ending double-play ground ball off the bat of former National League MVP Frank McCormick.

In all, Foxx would go 6.2 innings, yielding two runs on four hits and four walks in the Phillies’ 7-2 win. It must be noted, however, the reason Foxx had gotten his shot on the mound was the same reason his performance had gone so well. Specifically, Frank McCormick was one of just two Cincinnati position players–the other was shortstop Eddie Miller–who were not wartime additions. Still, a major league game is a major league game. And a major league win is a major league win.

Double X got one. It’s in the books, with his one game at shortstop.

***

Several top-shelf Hall of Famers have become One-Timers in another role: not on defense, and not at the plate, but on the basepaths as a pinch runner.

Mays–who, like Phil Niekro, et al, is a Two-Time One-Timer–pinch ran once. Weirdly, it happened not in his whippet-fast youth but in his age-41 season with the Mets. Alas, the Kid was left stranded. Likewise, Eddie Mathews ran once in a pinch. It worked. With the score knotted, 5-5, in the bottom of the 10th of a 1962 game against the Cardinals, the Braves slugger stepped in for the plodding Joe Torre and scored the game-winner from second base on a Lee Maye single.

Griffey–also a Two-Time One-Timer–made just one pinch-running appearance. It happened in 1989, and like Mays, Junior was left marooned. Left marooned, too, was Honus Wagner, in a 1914 game against the Giants. There is no play-by-play, but by keying on various clues, we can be confident Wagner pinch ran for catcher George Gibson in the bottom of the ninth, with the Pirates trailing by one, and was left stranded when leadoff man Joe Kelley made the final out. Wagner was 40 years old and in his 18th season.

Charlie Gehringer? Put it this way: Eddie Mathews wouldn’t be the first Hall of Famer to score the game-winner in his one-and-done pinch-running role. The date: May 5, 1927. The place: Detroit’s Navin Field. Having replaced Earl Whitehill after the pitcher’s one-out triple in the bottom of the ninth, Gehringer scored on a Marty McManus single to give Detroit a one-run win against the White Sox.

In the final reckoning, the pinch-running appearances would remain mostly irrelevant. Mays’ Mets finished third, Gehringer’s Tigers fourth, Mathews’ Braves fifth, Griffey’s Mariners sixth and Wagner’s Pirates seventh. When a team has no chance for postseason play, what’s one run, one win, one loss?

There’s but one answer.

***

Another way to become a One-Timer–at least according to the guy who invented the designation (takes a deep bow)–is like this: Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons, who notched 260 victories, once led the league in losses.

I hear you: “So what! Somebody’s gotta lead in losses!”

True, but typically, he isn’t one of the game’s best pitchers.

Sometimes, atypically, he is. In 1933, Lyons led the AL with 21 defeats.

There’s more where that came from.

In 1973, Steve Carlton led the NL in earned runs allowed, with 127. It came a year after he led the league in ERA, at 1.97, his one and only time to do so.

In 1901, Eddie Plank led the AL in wild pitches, with 13.

On the other side of it, Bob Gibson led the league in strikeouts once–and only once. That’s weird. Gibson is 14th all-time, with 3,117 strikeouts, so you’d think he paced his peers in whiffs more than once. You’d think wrong.

Equally weird is that Bert Blyleven–an Eight-Time One-Timer–led the league in strikeouts just once. And with 3,701 whiffs, he’s fifth on the list.

Baseball has provided other one-time surprises, years when future all-time greats posted a statistical lead that ran counter to their talent and reputation.

Nolan Ryan led the league in losses once, with 18, in 1976.

So did Tom Glavine, racking up 17 as a sophomore in 1988.

Fergie Jenkins led once in hits allowed–in the year he won the Cy Young!

Cy Young himself led once in hits allowed.

Roger Connor led in hits, batting average and RBI–but only once apiece.

Gehringer, who batted .320 overall, led just once in batting average.

Frank Robinson led the league in homers once, RBI once and batting average once–but all in one year, 1966, when he won the Triple Crown!

Blyleven? As mentioned, he was an Eight-Time One-Timer. Yep, in addition to his seasonal lead in strikeouts, he also led once–and only once–in WHIP, ERA+, games started, complete games, batters faced and, strangely, both losses and earned runs.

One conclusion: Baseball is weird.

***

Baseball is also unweird.

Unweird is when Pedro Martinez once leads the league in shutouts.

Your response: “Just once?”

Yep, just once.

But then you say, “You’re right, dude. What would’ve been weird is if Pedro had never–not once!–led in shutouts.” But he did, with four, in the year 2000.

So, yeah, that’s unweird–like Jeff Bagwell leading once in RBI, once in slugging, once in OPS, once in OPS+ and once in total bases. Bagwell was great, but then lots of players were great. But for that one season–1994, when he led the league in each of those categories–he was the greatest. He won his one MVP that season.

Unweird, in a way, is Cy Young’s lead in hits allowed. Why unweird? It’s unweird because, in that 1896 season, when he yielded a baseball-leading 477 knocks, Young compiled 414.1 innings pitched. That’s a lot of innings, second only to Frank Killen’s 432.1. What’s more, Young always gave up hits. His lifetime hit-per-nine–hits per nine innings pitched–is 8.7. How many times did he compile a league-low hits-per-nine? That’s right: just one.

Young’s real talent was his control, impeccable to the extreme. He posted a low in walks allowed not once, not twice, not thrice, but 14 times. Fourteen!

That makes sense. Again, it’s unweird.

Here’s weird. Hank Aaron made one pinch-running appearance. Okay, in and of itself, that isn’t weird. In game one of a doubleheader on September 5, 1954, rookie Aaron entered as replacement wheels for teammate Bobby Thomson, with the Braves leading the Reds, 8-6. Aaron later scored. What’s weird, or at least coincidental, is that the 20-year-old had gotten his big league break earlier that year after Thomson broke an ankle sliding into a base during spring training. Indeed, the pinch-running appearance was something of a microcosm of his unplanned promotion.

But wait, it gets weirder. In game two of the twin bill, Thomson pinch-ran for Aaron. Why? Because Aaron, bless him, broke an ankle sliding into a base.

***

Weird, too, but not super-weird, was the one-time pitching appearance of Ted Williams. The Boston Globe called it Sox manager Joe Cronin’s “annual insult to his regular mound corps,” owing to the fact that Cronin had pitched position players several times before. Less weird was the one-time outing of Tris Speaker, who, in the 1914 finale, yielded one hit and one run in his one inning against Washington.

Like Ty, Tris was just messin’ around.

Weirder, by far, is the one mound appearance of Musial. It happened in the 1952 finale, Cubs at Cards, after Musial entered the game leading Cubs right fielder Frank Baumholtz in the NL batting race by 10 points. In a fun stunt, Musial, at one time a minor league pitching prospect, stepped to the mound when Baumholtz stepped to the plate. On the first pitch, the left-handed Baumholtz slapped a shot to Cardinals third baseman Solly Hemus, who promptly booted it. And that was it for Musial’s big league mound career: one batter, one pitch.

Incidentally, he won the batting title that season–one of his seven titles.

One one-time winner of a batting title was one Mickey Mantle. With a batting average of .353, he won his one and only crown in 1956. He wasn’t one-and-done, though, when it came to One-Timer status. In fact, Mantle managed an infield trifecta: one start at shortstop, one game at third base, one inning at second base.

Another one-time winner of the batting crown was one Lou Gehrig. He achieved it in 1934, with a .363. Like Mantle, too, the Iron Horse got one start at shortstop. You read that correctly: left-handed Lou got one start at short.

Unlike Mantle, he got not one defensive chance there.

In fact, he played not one inning there.

Here’s the story: Suffering from lumbago, Gehrig awoke on the morning of July 14, 1934, in severe pain. Still, he was determined to maintain his consecutive-games streak, which, at 1,398, had already become a record. When game time arrived, Gehrig and Yankees manager Joe McCarthy agreed that the first baseman would start at shortstop, batting leadoff, for the tilt in Detroit. Following Gehrig’s first at-bat, McCarthy would replace him in the field. And that’s exactly what happened.

After his top-of-the-first single, Gehrig left the field.

Today, he’s credited with one game at shortstop. In truth, it was one at-bat.

Going one better than Gehrig, you could say, was one Randy Johnson.

We’re not talking about home runs here. Lou had 493 to the Big Unit’s one.
Instead, we’re talking about a genuine appearance at a gimmicky position.

On Oct. 3, 1993–one day after teammate Griffey’s lone appearance at first base–a man with a mullet departed the visitors dugout and loped to his top-of-the-ninth position in left field for the Seattle finale.

“He asked (manager) Lou Piniella and Lou said, ‘Yeah, go get out there,’” Griffey later told reporters. “And I was like, ‘Huh?’ I was definitely going to let him have everything. He’s out there, I definitely have to see how much ground he can cover, because they might put him out there again. You never know.”

You do know. They never put him out there again.


John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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Dennis Bedard
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Dennis Bedard

Hey John. Thorough treatment of a somewhat arcane subject. But, alas, not thorough enough. I don’t know why I know such useless information but HOF pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run on his first major league at bat and never hit another during his 21 year MLB career. Go figure!

tramps like us
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tramps like us

and he hit 1 triple in his career

Damon G.
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Damon G.

Fun article!

Here’s another one.

Newly announced Hall of Famer Harold Baines has exactly one blot of black ink on his stat page: In 1984, he led the AL in slugging.

hopbitters
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hopbitters

Nice work, John. Thanks for making the offseason somewhat tolerable. While I remember Niekro pitching, I honestly don’t recall him on the basepaths. In my imagination, however, I picture him spiralling around the infield knuckleball-style with the fielders chasing him around like a Benny Hill skit. Music and all.

Anon
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Anon

I’m sure there are a lot of one-timers at an odd position, but Albert Pujols played 1 game at 2B in 2008. An April 22nd game featuring 12 innings, a short 4IP by the starter and 6 relievers. Pujols moved to 2B in the 9th since Larussa brought Yadi Molina in and wanted to keep Jason Larue in so Larue went down to 1B and Pujols to 2B.

Lanidrac
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Lanidrac

Actually, Pujols played 2 games at 2B. His other appearance there was during the 2001 All-Star Game, because the NL strangely only carried one second baseman on its roster that year.

He does have one career appearance at SS, though, and like Gehrig a single batting title.

Pepper Martin
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Pepper Martin

I happened to be in attendance for a Hall of Famer’s one-and-done — Mariano Rivera had exactly one RBI in his career, on a bases-loaded walk from Francisco Rivera, in a game in which he also recorded his 500th save. I was there, at Citi FIeld.

RodneyDangerfieldFanGraphsWriter
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RodneyDangerfieldFanGraphsWriter

That’s awesome! I had a short-lived attempt at seeing all the ballparks, and managed to see Rivera at (new) (New) Yankee stadium shortly before he retired. What an honor. I also once saw soccer great Pele at the tale-end of his career, while he was with the NY Cosmos, in the old NASL. Yay nostalgia.

Pepper Martin
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Pepper Martin

Made a typo there; it was Francisco Rodriguez, not Francisco Rivera, that Mo got his RBI against.

Jetsy Extrano
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Jetsy Extrano

Was Koufax’s “stealing home” a screwed up squeeze play?