Players who homered on first career pitch

Tigers prospect Baddoo joins exclusive club

April 4th, 2021

Talk about starting a career off with a bang. An exclusive group of players in history jump-started their MLB tenure in the most impressive manner possible: hitting a home run on the first pitch they saw.

Akil Baddoo, Tigers: April 4, 2021, vs. Indians

Making his MLB debut in the No. 9 spot, Baddoo jumped all over a first-pitch fastball from Cleveland starter Aaron Civale, sending it over the wall for an opposite-field solo homer. It was a special moment, as the 22-year-old prospect flipped his bat as he exited the box, then pointed up to his family -- watching from the stands at Comerica Park -- as he crossed home plate.

Willson Contreras, Cubs: June 19, 2016, vs. Pirates

Contreras got his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter for Kyle Hendricks midway through the Cubs' curse-breaking 2016 season. Facing A.J. Schugel, he launched a two-run homer to center field, the fourth Cub to homer in the game after Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

Eddie Rosario, Twins: May 6, 2015, vs. A's

Rosario hit eighth and started in right field for the Twins in his Major League debut, and he took Scott Kazmir deep leading off the third inning. He'd go on to homer 13 times that season and finish sixth in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

Starling Marte, Pirates: July 26, 2012, vs. Astros

Marte hit leadoff in his MLB debut at age 23, facing a fellow rookie on the mound … a Houston lefty named Dallas Keuchel. The first pitch the future AL Cy Young winner (sans beard) threw in the game ended up in the left-center-field seats at Minute Maid Park, over the high wall.

Tommy Milone, Nationals: Sept. 3, 2011, vs. Mets

Milone's debut actually went better at the plate than it did on the mound. The left-hander allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings, but when he stepped in to bat himself, he ambushed a Dillon Gee fastball and put it over the right-field fence at Nationals Park for a three-run homer.

J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: Aug. 7, 2010, vs. Rays

Arencibia had a tremendous debut -- he homered twice and got hits in his first four at-bats. The first homer came in the second inning against James Shields. Arencibia then doubled and singled before launching another first-pitch homer in the sixth inning.

Daniel Nava, Red Sox: June 12, 2010, vs. Phillies

It doesn't get much better than crushing a grand slam on the first pitch you see in the big leagues. That's what Nava did in his Major League debut for Boston in 2010, with Joe Blanton on the receiving end. Only one other player has hit a grand slam on his first career pitch.

Mark Saccomanno, Astros: Sept. 8, 2008, vs. Pirates

Saccomanno's first Major League home run was also his only Major League home run -- a pinch-hit shot off Ian Snell. His big league career spanned only 10 games as a 28-year-old September callup in 2008, but that first game will be one he can always remember. For Saccomanno, a Houston native and an Astros fan growing up, it was a dream come true.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, Indians: Sept. 2, 2006, vs. Rangers

Kouzmanoff was the first player to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw as a big leaguer. His came against a young Edinson Volquez in the first inning, helping carry the Tribe to a 6-5 win. It was one of three grand slams Kouzmanoff hit in his career.

Adam Wainwright, Cardinals: May 24, 2006, vs. Giants

Wainwright has the reputation as one his generation's better hitting pitchers, and it all started in his first at-bat. Wainwright came in for an early-inning relief appearance, so the Cards let him bat for himself, and he took Noah Lowry deep. Wainwright's 10 career home runs ranked fourth among active pitchers, entering the 2018 season.

Andy Phillips, Yankees: Sept. 26, 2004, vs. Red Sox

Phillips' first-game, first-pitch home run came against the Yankees' arch-rivals in 2004. He knocked a two-run shot off Terry Adams in the eighth inning.

Kaz Matsui, Mets: April 6, 2004, vs. Braves

Matsui came to New York from Nippon Professional Baseball and gave the Mets a memorable debut, going 3-for-3 out of the leadoff spot and opening the game with a homer off Russ Ortiz. Matsui would also homer in his first plate appearances of 2005 and '06, making him the only Major Leaguer to start each of his first three seasons with a home run.

Marcus Thames, Yankees: June 10, 2002, vs. D-backs

It can't be easy facing a Hall of Famer in your first Major League at-bat -- let along arguably the most intimidating pitcher of all time (who had just dominated the Yankees in the 2001 World Series). But Thames got the better of the Big Unit.

Gene Stechschulte, Cardinals: April 17, 2001, vs. D-backs

Stechschulte only got six plate appearances in his three-year career as a relief pitcher, but his first one was as good as it got, with the right-hander homering on the first pitch against Armando Reynoso.

Chris Richard, Cardinals: July 17, 2000, vs. Twins

Richard hit seventh for St. Louis in his MLB debut, right in front of future Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. He took Mike Lincoln deep on the first pitch leading off the second inning.

Esteban Yan, Devil Rays: June 4, 2000, vs. Mets

Yan was mainly a relief pitcher and spent most of his career in the AL, so he almost never got to bat. But the first time he did, he made the most of it, smacking a first-pitch homer off the Mets' Bobby Jones in an Interleague game in 2000.

Jay Gainer, Rockies: May 14, 1993, vs. Reds

Gainer only played 23 career games, all for the Rockies in their inaugural season. In his debut, he homered off Tim Pugh on the first pitch he saw, one of three homers he hit as a big leaguer.

Jim Bullinger, Cubs: June 8, 1992, vs. Cardinals

Another pitcher on the list, Bullinger's homer in his first career at-bat broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning. It was the only run that a Cubs lineup that included Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mark Grace and Sammy Sosa scored until the 13th inning.

Junior Felix, Blue Jays: May 4, 1989, vs. Angels

Felix got his first at-bat in the second inning of a May game at Exhibition Stadium, and he sent a Kirk McCaskill offering into the right-center-field stands for his first career home run.

Jay Bell, Indians: Sept. 29, 1986, vs. Twins

Bell played 18 years in the Majors, but his rookie season was a five-game cup of coffee in 1986. His first at-bat was against Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, and the 20-year-old Bell came out on top, homering to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

Al Woods, Blue Jays: April 7, 1977, vs. White Sox

Woods' Major League debut came as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning with the Jays ahead of the Sox, 5-4, and he provided some insurance with a first-pitch two-run homer off Francisco Barrios.

Don Rose, Angels: May 24, 1972, vs. A's

Rose's home run on the first pitch of his first career at-bat was also the only one the right-handed pitcher hit in his three Major League seasons. It came against Diego Segui.

Brant Alyea, Washington Senators: Sept. 12, 1965, vs. Angels

Alyea started his career for the then-Senators, now-Rangers franchise in 1965. Manager Gil Hodges called on him to pinch-hit in the sixth inning on Sept. 12, and he immediately knocked a three-run homer off Rudy May to give Washington a 6-0 lead.

Bert Campaneris, Kansas City Athletics: July 23, 1964, vs. Twins

The six-time All-Star shortstop wasn't a power hitter -- Campaneris hit 79 homers in 19 seasons -- but that didn't stop him from popping one off Jim Kaat on the first pitch thrown his way. Campaneris even added a second game-tying homer in the seventh inning for good measure.

Chuck Tanner, Braves: April 12, 1955, vs. Reds

Tanner's first homer, off Gerry Staley, tied the game in the eighth inning of his MLB debut. Two batters later, Hank Aaron hit a go-ahead triple and the Braves held on to win the game.

George Vico, Tigers: April 20, 1948, vs. White Sox

Vico, a first baseman who played two seasons for Detroit in the late 1940s, homered on the first pitch he saw in the Majors against Chicago's Joe Haynes, who was an All-Star that year.

Clyde Vollmer, Reds: May 31, 1942, vs. Pirates

Vollmer played just 12 games in his first Major League season in 1942 before joining the U.S. Army and serving during World War II. In his first at-bat in his first game, he knocked the first pitch Max Butcher threw him for a home run.

Bill LeFebvre, Red Sox: June 10, 1938, vs. White Sox

LeFebvre's rookie season consisted of one relief appearance during a blowout, and he allowed six runs. But he also hit a home run of his own when he came to the plate in the eighth inning against Monty Stratton.

Eddie Morgan, Cardinals: April 14, 1936, vs. Cubs

Morgan played only 39 career games over two seasons, and he hit only one home run, off Cubs All-Star Lon Warneke on the first pitch of his first Major League at-bat.

Clise Dudley, Robins: April 27, 1929, vs. Phillies

Dudley was a pitcher for Brooklyn, but he homered twice in his first MLB season in 1929. That included his homer off Philadelphia's Claude Willoughby the first time he stepped to the plate. The New York Times noted Dudley's first-pitch home run in the next day's paper.

Walter Mueller, Pirates: May 7, 1922, vs. Cubs

Mueller is the first Major League Baseball player to homer on the first pitch of his career. He did it all the way back in 1922 -- off none other than Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander. Fun fact: Mueller's history-making home run was mistakenly credited to "C. Rohwer" -- a teammate who never played a game in the Majors -- in the game's box score.