This Day in Baseball History: April 19th, 1938

99 or 100?

On April 19, 1938:

Brooklyn Dodger Ernie Koy and Philadelphia Phillie Emmett Mueller hit their first major-league home runs in their first at-bats in the same inning of the same game.

Jordan Schafer became the 99th player in major-league history to hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat on April 5th, and he would add another two days later. Actually, according to Baseball-Almanac, he was the 100th player with 58 in the NL and 42 in the AL, but two of the players to hit those home runs were before the merger. Which brings up an interesting question — why does the NL have so many more players who have done that and how did it not happen in the AL prior to 1921? I guess the other interesting question is why people have been saying he was the 99th instead of the 100th. That would be a terrible way to find out you were the 100th, but it wasn’t once it happened. Why isn’t someone keeping track? Priorities people.

Anyway, back to Ernie Koy and Emmett Mueller. It was both players’ first game (they could have been a defensive sub at some point prior). In the first inning, Ernie Koy stepped up to the plate and smashed one out at the Baker Bowl. Not to be outdone, Emmett Mueller added his own home run in the bottom of the inning. The Dodgers would go on to win the contest 12-5. As for the rest of the season, neither team was any good as they finished at the bottom of the NL. Koy had the far better year offensively, but he was an outfielder compared to Mueller being at second. Still, Koy had a 122 OPS+ to Mueller’s 84. Mueller played with the Phillies for a couple more seasons but was done by 1942. Koy lasted a year longer as he bounced around to four different teams before ending up, oddly enough, on the Phillies in 1942.

Okay, so how historic is this moment? First, they are the only players to hit a home run in their first at-bat in the same game. No other time in the 133 years of Major League Baseball history has this happened. Second, they are the only ones to even do it on the same day. Third, they did it in the same inning. Fourth, they did it on Opening Day. Think of the odds that this would happen. I guess the first inning and Opening Day make sense, but a lot of rookies make their debuts later in the season (especially September), not April on Opening Day. Cool.

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