Jim Brideweser died on this date in 1989. Brideweser had two stints with the Orioles, appearing in 73 games for the Birds in 1954 and returning to Baltimore for the final 91 games of his professional career in 1957. It was in his 261st career game, during that final season, that Brideweser did something he had never done before, and that he would never do again. He homered. His lone homer came in the final season of his seven-year career.
There’s something appealing to me about players who have homered only once in their careers. To quote Doc Graham, albeit in a different context: “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days.’ I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”
The list of O’s batters with one career homer includes young guys who have had a cup off coffee in the bigs, the Xavier Averys of the baseball world. Avery’s solo homer in the eighth inning of a late-June 2012 game versus Cleveland proved to be the game winner during what turned out to be a magical Orioles season. Will he get another shot, or will that homer stand alone on his career stat sheet?
Then there are the post-DH pitchers with limited plate appearances. Remember Zach Britton‘s 2011 home run off Brandon Beachy of the Atlanta Braves? Britton finished the day 2-for-3, finished the season 5-for-8. He hasn’t batted again since 2011.
Brideweser is part of a rare group in this already unique club. The infielder is among five Orioles batters with 300 or more at-bats to have homered only once for the team. There’s more, but we’ll get to that. For now, the full list appears below, courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index.
Alan Wiggins leads the list with 843 at-bats for the Orioles and only one home run. However, Wiggins homered four times with the Padres before moving from San Diego to Baltimore in a 1985 trade.
Tony Muser, second on the list, had six long balls for the Chicago White Sox before the Orioles acquired him in a 1975 trade.
Bob Hale, third on the list, homered once more, in the final season of his career as a member of the New York Yankees, to finish with two career home runs.
Dick Kryhoski, the fifth and final name on the list, had 44 career home runs to his credit before hitting his lone homer for the Orioles during his lone season in Baltimore. It was the last home run of his career.
That makes Jim Brideweser the player with the most at-bats for the Orioles to have only one career home run. It holds for plate appearances as well. For Brideweser, May 24, 1957 was the only day.
Rest in peace, Jim.
The infrequent home run hitter has always been with us. Four active players are good examples.
First there is Duane Kuiper of the San Francisco Giants, who has hit only one roundtripper in ten years and 3259 at bats. Jerry Remy of the Red Sox has not collected a four-base wallop in his last 2188 at bats, the longest homerless streak since the days of Mike Tresh and Emil Verban in the 1940s. Larry Bowa of the Cubs has connected only 15 times in 2000+ games and 7817 at bats, which ranks him near the top among long-service players and ahead of such stars as Maury Wills, Rabbit Maranville, Richie Ashburn and Nellie Fox.