Getting off on the right foot
APRIL 16, 1929
What a way to start a career. On this day in baseball Cleveland Indians outfielder
Earl Averill became the first American League player to hit a home run in his first major league at bat. He hit an 0-2 pitch off
Earl Whitehill to help the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 5 to 4 in 11 innings.
That first at bat turned out to be an indicator of a stellar career for Averill. He ended up in the Hall of Fame. He hit eighteen home runs that first year, and had 96 RBIs. He ended up with 238 career home runs, and was elected to the baseball all-star games six times.
As spectacular as it is to hit a home run in your first at-bat in the major leagues, it was not a great omen for all those who did it. According to www.baseball-almanac.com ninety-one rookies got the ultimate hit in their first at bat, twenty-one of them on the first pitch, but seventeen of them never hit another major league home run.
The list of those who hit home runs in their first at bat is as noteworthy as the list of those who didn’t.
Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and
Ted Williams didn’t do it. Relief pitcher
Hoyt Wilhelm did, as did such unknowns as
Ace Parker, Dan Bankhead and