Triple Threat Position

Revisiting the first hits of some famous O’s catchers not named Wieters

Levi Meyerle of the Philadelphia Athletics is credited with baseball’s first triple, hit on April 24, 1876, which goes to show that there was in fact baseball before Matt Wieters.

After Wieters tripled for his first major league hit, some O’s fans wondered how many other players have done the same thing. Roch Kubatko provided an answer – at least among catchers – on Tuesday:

“Since 1954, only five catchers have tripled for their first major league hit: Matt Wieters on Saturday vs. Detroit, the Tigers’ Dane Sardinha on June 29, 2008, San Francisco’s Yorvit Torrealba on Sept. 5, 2001, Toronto’s Pat Borders on April 6, 1988 and the White Sox’s Chuck Lindstrom on Sept. 28, 1958.”

Here are some other O’s-specific historical facts relevant to the conversation:

Paul Blair holds the record for most triples in a season with 12 in 1967.

George Sisler holds the club record for triples with 145. Brooks Robinson is first among modern players with 68.

Hank Severeid is tops among Orioles catchers (22nd among all O’s players) with 36 triples. Overall, he hit 42 during his career.

Curt Blefary is tops among modern Orioles catchers (91st among all O’s players) with 13 triples. Overall, he hit 20 during his career. [Edit: Blefary is listed in the Orioles’ record book as a catcher, although he played only 40 games at the position for the team. Blefary split the majority of his time between the outfield and first base.]

To add further context, Roar from 34 reviewed the first hits of five famous Oriole backstops: Rick Dempsey, Ramon Hernandez, Mickey Tettleton, Gus Triandos, and Chris Hoiles. Each catcher appeared on The Washington Post’s recent list of “Best Catchers in Orioles History.”

Hoiles was the only catcher on this list to play his entire career in Baltimore. It took him the most games (six) to record his first hit. Meanwhile, no one on the list hit better than a double in his first at-bat. Tettleton hit the most career triples of any of the five catchers.

Dempsey: 12 triples in 24 seasons
Hernandez: six triples in 11 seasons
Tettleton: 16 triples in 14 seasons
Triandos: six triples in 13 seasons
Hoiles: two triples in 10 seasons

Here’s a closer look at each player’s first major league hit and first hit for the Birds:

Rick Dempsey

First major league hit: Sept. 23, 1969
A ninth-inning single for Minnesota off of Kansas City’s Chris Zachary.
It was Dempsey’s second at-bat in his first game.

First O’s hit: June 26, 1976
A second-inning double off of the Indians’ Dennis Eckersley.
It was Dempsey’s first at-bat in his second O’s game.

Ramon Hernandez

First major league hit: June 29, 1999
A third-inning bunt single against Seattle’s John Halama.
It was Hernandez’s first at-bat in his first game.

First O’s hit: April 3, 2006
A second-inning RBI single off of the Rays’ Scott Kazmir.
It was Hernandez’s first O’s game. He finished 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs.

Mickey Tettleton

First major league hit: July 15, 1984
A ninth-inning, pinch-hit single against the Blue Jays’ Roy Lee Jackson.
It was Tettleton’s third game, although he didn’t bat in his first major league appearance.

First O’s hit: May 9, 1988
An eighth-inning single off of the White Sox’s Jerry Reuss.
It was Tettleton’s first O’s game.

Gus Triandos

First major league hit
: 1953 with the Yankees*
(*game-by-game stats for the 1953 season are unavailable on Baseball Reference)

First O’s hit: April 16, 1955
A second-inning single off of the Red Sox’s Ike Delock.
It was Triandos’ first O’s appearance. He finished 2-for4 with an RBI before a crowd of 7,120 at Fenway.

Chris Hoiles

First major league & O’s hit: Oct. 1, 1989
An eighth-inning, run-scoring double off of the Blue Jays’ Mauro Gozzo.
It was Hoiles’ sixth game – the final game of the ’89 season – when he got his first hit.

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About mptaylor11

Roar from 34, a Baltimore Orioles Blog. Humor. History. Homerism. Since 2006.
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