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August 22, 2012
The Shame of Your First Big-League Hit
There are certain things in baseball that are just always the same. Player gets his first big-league hit. Somebody tosses the ball to the first- or third-base coach, who rolls it into the dugout. If a teammate picks it up before the bat boy does, he’ll pretend to flip the ball into the crowd. The teammates will scuff up a ball and pretend that it is the one going on the player’s mantle. Predictable stuff that makes you realize how much of your life you’ve spent watching baseball, and perhaps how much you hate it.
There are details that vary, though. Like when Irving Falu got his first hit, as he was running to third base, there was a shot of his family. There was a shot of his mother, joyful, sitting near a man who is, I have concluded, not at all:
And there is the placement of Corey Brown's first-hit home run, cruising just over the last true .000 he’ll ever have beside his face.
And there are the awkward shots of players who have been at first base thousands and thousands of times before, but for once forget how to give a fist bump or make their face look like a human face.
But the best first hits are the terrible ones. The terrible first hits corral us all into the same celebratory delusion despite hahaha look at that hit. Each of the following five players got the scuffed-up ball treatment. They all got the fake-throw into the stands treatment. They all got lots of high fives in the dugout, and they all had lots of text messages on their phone after the game, and they all saved this baseball (or gave it to somebody special) and they all felt, for a few minutes at least, the insecurity that defines their inner thoughts dissipate. Because they did this:
MLB highlight description: “Quintin Berry pops a bunt that gets through the right side of the infield, earning a double.”
MLB highlight description: “Ryan Flaherty tallies his first major league hit with a bunt single.”
MLB highlight description: “Blake Lalli caps a four-run ninth.”
MLB highlight description: “Anthony Gose hustles for a bunt single.”
Deserves credit for: Making adjustments in his second at-bat.
MLB highlight description: “Hernan Perez reaches on an infield single.”