Baseball’s Two-Hit Wonders
Thanks to “Field of Dreams,” everyone knows the story of Moonlight Graham, who played in one Major League game without getting a chance to bat.
Graham is one of 985 players who played just one career MLB game. But what about the anti-Grahams – those players who got at-bats and made the most of them in their one game?
There are 16 players in baseball history who played in just one game but had two or more hits in their one chance (Gus Hall doesn’t count, as he played in games in 1898):
So what happened to these guys? None of them died immediately after their debut, leaving them with lifetimes to talk about their one-game careers with immensely impressive OPS numbers.
Let’s take a look at them one by one:
Ray Jansen (21): Sure he went 4 for 5, but he committed three errors in 10 chances, while recording five assists and two put-outs. Without the designated hitter, that’s no good. Jansen went on to play minor league ball for five more seasons, but never made it back to The Show.
John Paciorek (18): Not only did Paciorek – the brother of major leaguers Jim and Tom Paciorek – have three hits, he walked twice, for a career 1.000 OBP. Back injuries and subsequent surgery sidelined him for the 1964 season, and he played minor league ball until 1969. Interestingly, he’s an author and a blogger.
Aubrey Epps (23): Epps had a rough tonsillectomy after his one game in the major leagues, but recovered in time for the next spring training – yet never made the big club again. He played six minor league seasons with the Pirates, Giants, Yankees and Cubs.
Frank Cross (28): Brother of major leaguers Amos and Lave Cross, he played five more minor league seasons after his one shot.
Elvio Jimenez (24): Jimenez played 11 more seasons in the minor and Mexican leagues, but never got another shot at the big time.
Tony Ordenana (24): A Cuban, Ordenana was nicknamed “Mosquito” – and was 5’9″ 158 pounds. His minor league career continued through 1954.
Jerry Lynn (21): He played minor league ball through 1948, with a break from 1941-45 to serve in World War II. Lynn was the starting second baseman on the 1936 Salisbury Indians, which forfeited its first 21 games because they had one too many players on the roster with previous pro experience. They still came back to win the pennant, and Lynn won the batting title with a .342 record.
Frank Trechock (21): Another Salisbury Indian veteran, Trechock went on to play minor league ball through 1951 – mostly at the Triple A level.
Hal Deviney (27): Deviney played five more minor league seasons before retiring at age 32. He died eight years later.
Monty Swartz (23): Nicknamed Dazzy, Swartz played just one more minor league season before hanging it up.
Ed Irwin (30): Irwin got to play his one game because the Detroit Tigers went on strike when Ty Cobb was suspended for climbing into the stands to fight a one-handed heckler. It was the last professional baseball he would ever play.
Doc McMahon (21): McMahon threw a complete game and earned the win in his only MLB game, in addition to going 2-for-5. He played minor league ball for three more seasons before becoming a dentist.
Karl Spongberg (24): Spongberg was the first player from Idaho to appear in the majors (there have only been 27 more).
Doc Tonkin (25): Tonkin fared better at the plate than he did on the mound, giving up two earned runs on six hits in 2.2 innings.
Ginger Clark (23): Clark earned the win in his first and only MLB game, giving up six runs (four earned) in six innings of work. He went on to play minor league ball for eight more seasons (winning 133 games for the Birmingham Barons).
Mike Hopkins (29): A teammate of Honus Wagner (for one game), Hopkins was a native of Scotland (the fourth of seven Scots to play in the majors).