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Most players debuting in the same game

Posted by Andy on April 7, 2010

Covering the years for which we have box scores (1920-1939, 1952-present) here are the games featuring the most different players making their major league debuts.

First, for pitchers:

Most making their debut for one team in the same game:

Rk Gcar Tm Opp Date #Matching
1 DET MIN 2003-04-02 4
2 MIN TOR 1999-04-07 3
3 SEA BOS 1990-09-08 3
4 MIL KCR 1979-08-29 3
5 LAD HOU 1973-09-02 3
6 HOU NYM 1963-09-27 3
7 WSH NYY 1955-04-13 3
8 CLE CHW 1954-04-17 3
9 SLB DET 1929-04-21 3
10 PHA CLE 1921-09-15 (1) 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/6/2010.

Wow, four pitchers making their debut for the same team in one game!

Notice that 9 out of 10 of these games came in either April or September, by far the months with the most new player debuts.

And now the most making their debut for either team in the same game:

Rk Gcar Tm Opp Date #Matching
1 DET MIN 2003-04-02 4
2 DET TBD 2002-04-04 3
3 MIN TOR 1999-04-07 3
4 LAD FLA 1995-04-25 3
5 SEA BOS 1990-09-08 3
6 DET BOS 1988-04-07 3
7 MIL KCR 1979-08-29 3
8 LAD HOU 1973-09-02 3
9 HOU NYM 1963-09-27 3
10 CHC STL 1955-04-17 (2) 3
11 WSH NYY 1955-04-13 3
12 CLE CHW 1954-04-17 3
13 BOS PHA 1954-04-13 3
14 BOS WSH 1952-04-17 3
15 SLB DET 1939-04-25 3
16 SLB DET 1929-04-21 3
17 PHA CLE 1921-09-15 (1) 3
18 PHI WSN 2010-04-05 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/6/2010.

Interestingly, that 2003 Tigers game holds the record even for both teams combined. I carried the list down to one of the many, many games in which 2 pitchers debuted, the Phillies-Nats game from Monday, which saw the first career appearances by David Herndon and Jesse English. Looking at the minor league numbers for those guys, I'm not sure why either made the big league team this year.

Now for batters, first for one team in the same game:

Rk Gcar Tm Opp Date #Matching
1 CHW DET 1934-04-17 6
2 PHA BOS 1954-04-13 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/6/2010.

Whoa, 6. That's a lot. Keep in mind that some of the "batters" are actually pitchers. The most recent time 4 batters debuted for one team was in 2001 for the Giants.

Now here is combined for both teams in the same game:

Rk Gcar Tm Opp Date #Matching
1 BAL WSH 1955-04-11 7
2 BOS PHA 1954-04-13 7
3 PIT PHI 1954-04-13 6
4 CHW DET 1934-04-17 6
5 PHA BOS 1925-04-14 6
6 NYM COL 1995-04-26 5
7 FLA LAD 1995-04-25 5
8 HOU PHI 1962-04-13 5
9 SFG LAD 1958-04-15 5
10 STL CHC 1954-04-13 5
11 DET CLE 1929-04-16 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/6/2010.

Every single one of these games came in April, as would be expected. I looked at those 1995 games and was surprised to see that they were in late April, but then I remembered that the season started late due to the lockout. Those two games (#6 and #7 on the list above) were indeed the first games of the year for those teams.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 at 7:39 am and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Most players debuting in the same game”

  1. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    I thought the 9/27/63 Mets-Astros game, when the Astros started their all-rookie lineup, would dominate your list, but it didn't. Five Astros (Morgan, Pointer, Vaughan, Grote, and White) had debuted earlier in September. The only Astros position player to debut on 9/27 was Sonny Jackson.

  2. Chipmaker Says:

    Eventually that 1912 (or thereabouts) Tigers game where scrubs filled in for the striking players will be available, and could set a new high.

  3. DoubleDiamond Says:

    David Herndon is a Rule 5 draft pick that the Phillies have to keep or offer back to the Angels. With a decent spring combined with injuries to others in their bullpen, he made the team. He probably would not have been brought into this game if the score had not been so lopsided.

    Jesse English pitched in the Giants farm system last year, so I thought that maybe he was a Rule 5 pick, too. But I just re-read a Baseball America item I had seen earlier this week that listed the Rule 5 picks that made the teams that drafted them, and he's not mentioned. So it must have been some other transaction, perhaps minor league free agency or just being released, period.

  4. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Also, in 1995, teams were allowed to keep an additional player or two (I forgot whether it was one or two players) between opening day and May 15, due to the shortened spring training period for non-replacement players. This could have accounted for the higher number of players debuting in those two games.

  5. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Eventually that 1912 (or thereabouts) Tigers game where scrubs filled in for the striking players will be available, and could set a new high.

    It will. Nine players debuted in that May 18, 1912 game. Only one (Billy Maharg) ever played in another major-league game, and for Maharg, it was only a single game for the 1916 Phillies.