The MLB One-Game Cup-of-Coffee Club

blank-gravestone-granite-headstone-cartoon

To Be Inscribed on the Featured Marker: “Here Rests John Doe, The Only Man to Appear in a Big League Game After His Own Death. ~ To Find Out How, Read The Pecan Park Eagle.”

I watched “Field of Dreams” for the first time in a long while the other day. And I was reminded of Burt Lancaster’s brief, but beautiful job of romanticizing Moonlight Graham as the cornfield comeback player who gives up his spot on the most heavenly diamond that is Iowa to save the little girl from choking to death. It was almost enough to make me feel sorry for the former New York Giant who only got to play a half inning in the outfield on 6-29-1905 as his full MLB career without ever getting a chance for a big league time at bat. I say “almost” ~ even still care about the man’s legend. It’s simply that I’m a little more knowledgeable today of how large the One MLB Game Cup-of-Coffee Club truly is. ~ 1,531 men have played one-game MLB careers, including one I was privileged to get to know a little bit during the last chapter of his ninety plus years lifetime. Others beyond Graham also suffered deprivations from their own limited big league time.

Buddy Hancken

Buddy Hancken

The following two links make for some interesting perusals. Check out all the guys who got to play, but never bat, in their one-game moments. As a New York player, it figures that Moonlight Graham’s deprivation would receive more critical attention than most, but he was not alone. I remember the late Buddy Hancken, also a former Astros coach, tellling me of his own one game MLB experience. While he was briefly with the Philadelphia Athletics, coming in once to catch the bottom of the 9th of a 9-7 A’s win at Cleveland on 5-14-1940. but never getting into another game in which he might’ve had a chance to bat. One more time ~ why isn’t Buddy Hancken as well known today as Moonlight Graham? That’s right. ~ Hancken played in Philadelphia. Graham played in New York.

********************

The One-Gamer Charts

999 Batters with One-Game MLB Careers (1st Link),

532 Pitchers with One-Game MLB Careers (2nd Link):

Batters with only one career game in the majors 

Pitchers with only one career game in the majors

******************

I did not find anyone, other than Larry Yount, who came into MLB as a pitcher who didn’t actually pitch to a single batter ~ or participate through a single play in the field ~ as a one-game wonder. All Yount did was injure his arm warming up prior to the game, forcing his removal after being announced as the pitcher of record in the game that was being played between Atlanta and Houston on 9-15-1971.

Goose Bump Territory

Larry Yount may be best remembered as the human being who first innocently found a non-demeaning way to “get something for nothing!” The man gained eternal recognition as a former big leaguer without actually doing anything more than qualifying by an MLB rule covering the status of players who are announced as game participants but then cannot play ~ for whatever reason. Once you’re announced, you’re in the game, whether you actually ever get there or not.

In other words ….

If Larry Yount had been struck dead by lightning while warming up for his announced relief pitcher appearance, he could have been the only dead man in baseball history to have become a participant in an MLB game that did not actually start until after he died.

How is that for a real goose-bumper conclusion?

********************

Top Ten AL Batting Averages 

Through Games of Tue., 9/18/18: 

BATTING AVERAGE

1. Betts • BOS ~ .337

2. Martinez • BOS ~ .328

3. Trout • LAA ~ .319

4. Altuve • HOU ~ .316

********************

AL WEST SCORES, 

Thru Tue., 9/18/18:

Houston 7 – Seattle 0.

LA Angels 9 – Oakland 7.

Tampa Bay 4 – Rangers 0.

 ********************

AL WEST STANDINGS

Morning of Wed., 9/19/18

TEAMS

WON

LOST

PCT.

GB

Houston

95

56

.629

 —-

Oakland

90

61

.596

   5.0

Seattle

83

68

.550

 12.0

LA Angels

75

76

.497

 20.0

Texas

64

87

.424

 31.0

********************

SCHEDULE BALANCE FOR

HOU, OAK & SEA:

DATE

HOU

OAK

SEA

9/19

SEA

LAA

@HOU

9/20

LAA

9/21

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/22

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/23

LAA

MIN

@TEX

9/24

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/25

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/26

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

9/27

@BAL

TEX

9/28

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

9/29

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

9/30

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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4 Responses to “The MLB One-Game Cup-of-Coffee Club”

  1. Rick B. Says:

    I recently wrote an article for SABR’s Games Project about one-game wonder John Paciorek. Coincidentally, Paciorek’s one-and-only game also happened to be Jim Umbricht’s last game.

    Here is the link: https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/september-29-1963-fleeting-fame-and-enduring-memories-houstons-john-paciorek-jim

    • Tom Hunter Says:

      Nice SABR piece, Rick. I remember that Jim Umbricht died on April 8, 1964, the same day as two of my relatives. A sad day all around.

  2. bhick6 Says:

    Outfielder Tommy Johns’ one-game major league experience with the 1873 Baltimore Marylands was so fleeting that not one of the five living descendants of his whom I contacted while writing his biography even knew he had played baseball. Even his Baltimore Marylands team played in obscurity, as they lasted only six games as a major league squad in the National Association. On the other hand, at least Tommy Johns had the experience of being a batter facing HOFer Candy Cummings, inventor of the curve ball.

    Bill Hickman

  3. Cliff Blau Says:

    The real Moonlight Graham played two innings in the field; it was the fictional one who only played one inning.

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