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There’s a good chance the thoughts in my head will exit my mouth don’t say I didn’t warn you shirt, hoodie, tank top
Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo popped an opposite field home run in the third inning against Cleveland on Sunday, joining pretty select company. He’s the 126th player in MLB history to hit a home run in his first at-bat. It’s a very cool accomplishment.
Two innings later, Baddoo tried and failed — just like 16,860 other players in MLB history with at least two career plate appearances — to join Keith McDonald in one of the most exclusive home run clubs in MLB history. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, who?”
McDonald, the former Cardinals catcher, is one of only two player to hit home runs in his first two career PAs; St. Louis Browns outfielder Bob Nieman was the first, popping two on Sept. 14, 1951, at Fenway Park. There’s a good chance the thoughts in my head will exit my mouth don’t say I didn’t warn you shirt, hoodie, tank top
MORE: 10 single-season MLB feats we’ll never see again
And that isn’t even the most exclusive home-run club McDonald is a part of. He’s the sole member of the “at least three career hits, with every hit being a home run” club. McDonald had three hits in his career, and all three were homers.
By contrast, the 700-home run club — consisting of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth — feels like a crowded NYC subway platform in pre-pandemic days.
It’s really quite incredible.
“That’s kind of the joke,” McDonald said with a laugh in a phone conversation with Sporting News last fall. “I’m the greatest slugger of all time.”
McDonald was, by his own labeling, an “organizational guy.” Far from a top prospect — he was a 24th-round pick in the 1994 MLB Draft — McDonald was, in a manner of speaking, kind of like Crash Davis. He spent a total of nine years in Triple-A, often handling an organization’s top pitching prospects. With the Cardinals, he was essentially Rick Ankiel’s personal catcher in 1999, both at Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Memphis. He caught highly touted pitching prospects Chad Hutchinson and Matt DeWitt, too.
So he was a big part of the organization’s future, even if the club wasn’t exactly counting on his bat. McDonald had only hit 28 home runs in 463 career minor league games heading into the 2000 season, and he’d just hit one in 2000 before finally getting the call to the bigs at 27 years old when backup catcher Eli Marrero landed on the DL. He made his debut in a game the Cardinals were leading 13-3 against the Reds. Andy Larkin was on the mound.