Matthew Taylor: Going deep to find members of exclusive Orioles club

Minnesota Twins rookie Eddie Rosario homered on the first big league pitch he ever saw on Wednesday. Rosario became the 29th player to knock the first pitch of his first at-bat out of the park.

No Orioles player has ever homered on the first pitch they ever saw; however, two O’s players homered in their first at-bat. Meanwhile, one former Orioles pitcher homered on the first pitch of his first career at-bat after he departed Baltimore. Let’s talk about Buster Narum, Lou Montanez, and Esteban Yan.

O’s pitcher Buster Narum homered during his first and only at-bat of the 1963 season. He did so on May 3, 1963, as part of a 12-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Narum entered the game as a reliever in the bottom of the third inning. He drove in O’s catcher John Orsino, who was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the fourth inning, with a two-run homer.

Narum, who was traded to the Washington Senators after the season in exchange for Lou Piniella, homered three times in 118 career at-bats over the course of five major league seasons.

Forty-five years later, outfielder Lou Montanez became the second Orioles player to homer in his first at-bat. Montanez took the Angels’ Ervin Santana deep in the top of the third inning during a 9-4 road loss on Aug. 6, 2008.

Interestingly, Montanez batted in an April 28 game against the Chicago White Sox; however, play was suspended in the top of the 12th inning and the game was not completed until Aug. 12. That meant it did not count as the first official game for Montanez.

Montanez played four seasons in the bigs, three for the Orioles and one for the Chicago Cubs. He finished with five home runs in 305 at-bats. His first home run was the only one he ever hit on the road; the rest came in the friendly confines of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Wrigley Field.

Former Orioles pitcher Esteban Yan hit his lone career home run on the first pitch he ever saw, an offering from the New York Mets’ Bobby Jones during interleague play on June 4, 2000. Yan, by then a pitcher with Tampa Bay, picked up the win on the mound to go along with his homer at the dish.

Yan finished his career with a perfect 1.000 batting average, going 2-for-2 overall. His second hit came versus the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003.

Finally, there are two names among the 29 players to homer on the first pitch of their first at-bat that O’s fans may recognize: Benny Ayala and Chris Richard.

Ayala, a member of the O’s 1983 World Series team, homered on the first pitch of his big league debut for the New York Mets on Aug. 27, 1974. During his time in Baltimore, Ayala homered in the 1979 World Series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Richard, meanwhile, arrived in Baltimore from St. Louis via trade in 2000. He homered on the first pitch of his Cardinals debut on July 17, 2000.

Extra innings: Before they were the Baltimore Orioles, they were the St. Louis Browns. And while no Orioles batter ever homered on the first pitch of his first at-bat, a Browns player did. In fact, Bob Nieman not only homered on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors, he also homered in his second at-bat as well. That was on Sept. 14, 1951. Two at-bats, two home runs.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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