First player born in each decade to homer
Nationals second baseman Luis García made a lot of people feel old when he belted Touki Toussaint’s fastball over the right-center-field fence and became the first player born in the 2000s to hit a home run in the Major Leagues. As the Nationals’ Twitter account so painfully put it, NSYNC ruled the airwaves and “Gladiator” was generating Oscar buzz when García was born.
But of course, every generation must eventually feel the arrival of the next one coming up behind them, and that holds true in baseball. Below are the first players born in each decade of the modern era to homer in the big leagues, starting with García and going in reverse chronological order.
2000s: Luis García, Nationals
Birth date: May 16, 2000 | First HR: Aug. 17, 2020
García was the Nationals’ No. 2 prospect when he was called up on Aug. 14 -- coincidentally, to replace injured infielder Starlin Castro, the first player born in the 1990s to homer. An international signing by the Nats in 2016, García rose to Double-A in ‘19 but debuted in the Majors with only 12 professional homers in 305 Minor League games to his credit. Nonetheless, it took him just three games in the Majors to launch a homer at the highest level.
1990s: Starlin Castro, Cubs
Birth date: March 24, 1990 | First HR: May 7, 2010
By the time Castro gave way to García on the 2020 Nationals roster, he was an 11-year veteran with more than 1,600 big league hits (and 135 homers) to his credit. But he was once the newcomer himself, debuting less than two months after his 20th birthday and wasting no time. In his MLB debut in Cincinnati, Castro went deep for a three-run shot off Homer Bailey in his first plate appearance. He went on to become the only player in MLB history to drive in six runs in his debut.
1980s: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Birth date: Jan. 16, 1980 | First HR: April 7, 2001
Pujols was not originally viewed as a favorite to make the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster in 2001, but a strong Spring Training convinced Tony La Russa that Pujols needed to be in the mix. Four days after he debuted as a 21-year-old, Pujols knocked the first of what is now more than 650 career home runs (and counting) -- a two-run, game-tying shot off D-backs righty Armando Reynoso that was an absolute no-doubter. Pujols finished his rookie year with 37 homers (vaulting him to a National League Rookie of the Year Award and a fourth-place finish in the National League MVP vote), and belted more dingers over his Cardinals tenure (445) than any other player has across their first 11 big league seasons.
1970s: Iván Rodríguez, Rangers
Birth date: Nov. 27, 1971 | First HR: Aug. 30, 1991
Rodríguez retired having caught more games than any other backstop, and it helped that he got a head start by debuting with Texas at age 19. Pudge also retired with the fifth-most homers by any catcher, but he had to wait all the way until his 59th career game before he finally knocked his first, solo shot off Royals right-hander Storm Davis -- who debuted as a 20-year-old in 1982.
1960s: Ricky Seilheimer, White Sox
Birth date: Aug. 30, 1960 | First HR: July 26, 1980
The lefty-hitting catcher only played one season and 21 games in the Major Leagues, and he hit exactly one home run -- but that was enough for Seilheimer to join this list. The 19-year-old hit his only career homer off none other than Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, a game-tying solo shot in the seventh inning of a game the White Sox would go on to win on Harold Baines’ walk-off homer against Jenkins in the bottom of the ninth.
1950s: César Cedeño, Astros
Birth date: Feb. 25, 1951 | First HR: July 6, 1970
Cedeño was more of a gap-to-gap hitter, as evidenced by the fact that he led the Majors in doubles in back-to-back years in his age-20 and -21 seasons. The Dominican native debuted with Houston just 115 days past his 19th birthday and hit his first tater in his 16th game as part of a 10-8 loss to the Dodgers.
1940s: Ron Santo, Cubs
Birth date: Feb. 25, 1940 | First HR: July 3, 1960
It took nine games for Santo to clear the fences, the first of 337 homers he would hit in a Cubs uniform. Santo rose through the Cubs’ farm system in only one year and three months’ time, debuting for the North Siders at age 20. Homer No. 1 came off Reds southpaw Jim O’Toole, a three-run blast that scored another future Hall of Famer in Ernie Banks.
1930s: Del Crandall, Braves
Birth date: March 5, 1930 | First HR: July 2, 1949
Debuting at age 19, Crandall was the only other player besides runaway winner Don Newcombe to receive NL Rookie of the Year votes in 1949. He only hit four homers that season, but his first one off the Phillies’ Blix Donnelly made the future 11-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove catcher the first player born in the ‘30s to homer in the big leagues.
1920s: Sibby Sisti, Braves
Birth date: July 26, 1920 | First HR: Sept. 4, 1939
Sisti played for the Braves across his entire 13-year career and was such a key part of the franchise that a Boston Braves fan club inducted him into the team’s Hall of Fame alongside Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain and Tommy Holmes after the squad left town for Milwaukee. Sisti tried out for the Red Sox at age 15 and signed with the other Boston side two years later. He became the youngest player in the Majors when he was called up at 18, and he homered in his 35th career game.
1910s: Dib Williams, Athletics
Birth date: Jan. 19, 1910 | First HR: June 1, 1930
A middle infielder who played six Major League seasons for the Philadelphia A’s and Red Sox, Williams debuted at age 20 on April 27, 1930, and spent his first month in the big leagues as a late-game replacement in blowouts for starting second baseman Max Bishop. But Williams got a brief run in the starting lineup in June, and on the first of the month he hit an inside-the-park home run to center field at Griffith Stadium off the Washington Senators’ Myles Thomas.
1900s: Marty McManus, Browns
Birth date: March 14, 1900 | First HR: June 30, 1921
McManus, an infielder, played one game for the St. Louis Browns at the end of the 1920 season -- the first of the live ball era. In 1921, he was a regular for the club after joining the team a week into May, though it took him 36 games to notch his first homer in the front half of a doubleheader against the White Sox. Fittingly for the time, it was an inside-the-park job. McManus went on to play 15 seasons and smack 120 homers in the big leagues.