Monday, June 7, 2010

Quadruple digits

Who hasn't had the dream of suiting up for a major league team and stepping into the batter's box for one major league at-bat against a major league pitcher?

Extending that fantasy a little farther, who hasn't had the thought of somehow getting a hit during that major league at-bat? Perhaps it is a late swing, an inside-out swing, but you manage to bloop the ball over the second baseman's head. A ducksnort.

Then, in the ultimate sign of fantasy, there on first base, you call time, the manager sends in a pinch-runner and you exit the game never to return. Your career batting record is forever listed as 1-for-1. You batted 1.000.

According to my brief research, there are around 80 players in major league history that finished their career batting 1.000. Many of them received just one at-bat and made the most of that single opportunity, never to be heard from again.

It's not easy finding cards of these guys. Several played before the 1900s. Perhaps if I looked around more, I could dig up a few others, but here is just a sampling:

Eduardo Rodriguez was mostly a relief pitcher for the Brewers and Royals for seven years in the 1970s. He played in 264 games, the most for any one player who batted 1.000 for his career.

Of course, as a pitcher, the vast majority of those games did not include an at-bat for Rodriguez. He came to the plate in only one game, during his first year in 1973, also the first year of the designated hitter rule in the American League (the Brewers were part of the AL then). In that one at-bat, he hit a TRIPLE and scored.

Rodriguez never came to the plate again. He died on his 57th birthday last year. He left this earth batting 1.000.

Esteban Yan started his major league career as a pitcher for the Orioles, but most of his time was spent relieving for Tampa Bay, before bouncing around between the Rangers, Cardinals, Tigers, Angels and Reds.

Yan came to the plate twice for Tampa Bay in 2000. On the first pitch of the first at-bat of his major league career, on June 4, he hit a home run. The Devil Rays won the game against the Mets 15-5, and Yan received the win. He was not credited with an at-bat in his second plate appearance.

Three years later, while pitching for the Cardinals, he delivered a single. Yan's big league career ended in 2006 and his batting average after two career at-bats was 1.000.

I don't have a card for Steve Shirley, unfortunately. There were precious few minor league cards in the 1970s. But I do have an image of him from one of my Dodger yearbooks.

Shirley, a pitcher, was a perennial prospect for the Dodgers during the late '70s, but couldn't crack the major leagues. Finally, during the 1982 season, he pitched in 11 games for L.A. During one of those games, he came to the plate and hit a single. That was his one and only year in the majors. He finished 1-1 on the mound and hit 1.000 at the plate.

The most famous 1.000 hitter is John Paciorek. He came from a major league family. His brother Tom Paciorek played for the Dodgers, Braves, Mariners, White Sox and Rangers during the '70s and '80s. Brother Jim also had a brief major league career in the late 1980s.

Paciorek was an outfielder. Playing for the Houston Colt .45's against the Mets on the final day of the 1963 season, he came to the plate five times in his first major league game. He delivered three singles, walked twice, drove in three runs and scored four times.

Paciorek never played in the majors again, but he has the most at-bats (3) for anyone who ever finished with a career 1.000 batting average.

Frank O'Connor, who pitched in three games for Philadelphia in 1893, came to the plate twice, and delivered two hits -- a single and a home run -- and drove in three runs, tied with Paciorek for the most for anyone who batted 1.000 for his career.

Here are a few other 1.000 career hitters:

Charlie Lindstrom caught in one game for the 1958 White Sox. In two plate appearances, he walked and tripled, driving in a run. Joe Davenport pitched in 10 games for the 1999 White Sox and 2001 Rockies. He batted once for the Rockies in '01 and delivered a single. Jeff Kubenka pitched for the Dodgers in 1998 and 1999 (I think I have a card of him somewhere). While racking up an 11.74 ERA in 1999, he went 1-for-1 at the plate and finished his career a 1.000 hitter.

There are many many other examples of this baseball phenomenon, which fascinates me. But perhaps you've guessed the real reason why I'm mentioning these fine folks.

This is post No. 1,000 at Night Owl Cards.

It's officially the most I've ever written without getting paid.

Maybe by post 2,000 the money will start rolling in. Because, you know, nobody has ever hit 2.000 in their career.


  1. congrats bud.

    thanks for the entertainment.

  2. Congratulations on the milestone.

    I couldn't help but notice that the Mets came up on the wrong end of these performances a few times. ;)

  3. Congratulations on reaching 1000. Keep up the good work!

  4. Congrats on 1000! You are among the truely greats out in Blogoland. Thanks for the great words you write.

  5. Great first thousand posts. Looking forward to the next thousand.

  6. don't forget about roy gleason!

  7. My high school lifetime batting average is 1.000. It was the freshman baseball team. I batted once and singled over the second baseman's head. After that year I took the hint and got an after school job.

  8. Greg, you've got a way with words.

    You see stuff in cards that most of us will never see unless we follow your wisdom.

    You've got stamina.

    Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  9. Congratulations on getting to 1,000. This is a great blog with a pretty loyal following ... I see a lot of the names popping up over and over again.

    I haven't been around since the start, but I've enjoyed it since I've been on board. And occassionally I'll go back and read posts that you had before I was a regular.

    Thanks, and please keep it going. I would venture to say that even though you don't get paid for this, your audience is as devoted to this blog as they are to anything you've written "on the clock."

  10. Big congratulations on your 1000th post! From one Dodger fan to another, I love seeing Dodger cards, even though I'm basically a set collector and not a team collector. Write on!

    Andy J.

  11. Many happy returns, Greg! Your blogs are appointment reading for me.

  12. Good work, sir.

    If you were playing in your first ever backyard pick-up game with your friends, you smacked a line drive into the yard three houses away, and decided to round the bases twice (anything goes in backyard baseball) and then you never batted again, could you count that as a 2.000 average?

  13. Top drawer post for #1000. Congrats and keep up the fine late night work! (and for #2000, might i suggest any of those 1-1 players who hit a double...)

  14. Excellent 1,000th post! Congrats on your milestone- much more than a cup of coffee!

    These guys remind me of the Cubs' Adam Greenberg who got nailed in the head in his first and only MLB plate appearance. Dude couldn't stand straight for 3 weeks... hardly living the 1.000 dream!


  15. Congrats on reaching 1,000. I see a future book in the works.