Sunday Frivolities

The One-Game Wonder. At least he wasn’t a one-hit wonder.

After writing last week’s post, I realized that John Paciorek had a really good game, but he never received another chance, which seemed odd. Here’s the story.

Born on February 11, 1945, John Paciorek is the older brother of two other major league players, Tom and Jim. Both of his brothers spent more time in the majors than John, with Tom spending a considerable amount of time longer, but young John was the first.

Coming into the last game of the 1963 season, John Paciorek would get his chance. Two days earlier, the Houston Colt .45s had used an all-rookie lineup, but he wasn’t in it. Actually, he probably didn’t deserve to be in the lineup when he was. Paciorek was only 18, and he hadn’t performed well in the minors. In 78 games at A-level Modesto, he hit .219 with a .401 SLG with 94 strikeouts in 274 at-bats. With 9 home runs as well, he was the “Three True Outcome” player. Still, he was really young, but he parlayed a strong Spring Training performance into a debut.

The Colts were staggering in 1963. By September 29, they were 65-96 and 34 games back. This is part of the reason that manage Harry Craft could use an all-rookie line-up a couple days earlier. On September 29th, Paciorek would make his debut against the New York Mets, who were actually much worse than the Colts at 51-110 at 48 games back.

Paciorek laced a single down the third base line, drove a ball past the shortstop, and bounced a single deep into the 5-6 hole for another single. Even better, he mixed in two walks in front of the 4,000 fan crowd who cheered him on. In his five plate appearances, he scored four times and drove in three runs in helping his team win. He had a 1.000 BA and OBP and a 2.000 OPS for the day. In Major League history there are 79 career 1.000 hitters. 69 are 1-for-1. 9 are 2-for-2. Only one is 3-for-3, and he is John Paciorek.

The next day, the headline read that Paciorek “was here to stay”, but that turned out to be a false prophecy. During the 1963 season, Paciorek had suffered a back injury supposedly due to his dedication. The 18-year old figured to overcome the injury and played through it. However, even after a few months off, the injury didn’t heal. His next Spring Training was not near the impressive one he had the year before, and he was sent down to Class-A Durham. Disappointed, Paciorek struggled with his bat and his back, and by midseason, he had back surgery and would spend the next 10 months in a back brace.

Paciorek made a comeback attempt in 1966, but he continued to struggle. He seemed to right the ship in 1968 with a .268 average and 20 HR. However, during the following season, he suffered a shoulder injury, and he retired from baseball at the ripe young age of 24. It is believed the shoulder had as much to do with his retirement as his back, which really hadn’t healed all the way.


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