In case you missed it, it was a big Labor Day weekend for San Francisco Giants rookies. Chris Shaw and Aramís García made their Major League debuts on Friday night, with García smacking an eighth-inning home run. On Monday, Shaw followed suit with a monstrous eighth-inning tater.
And just like that, both of the Giants youngsters have MLB home runs.
First home runs are a big deal. They guarantee that, no matter what happens in the rest of your career, you will have accomplished the most sought after individual feat at the sport’s highest level.
Many of us spent much of our youth dreaming of hitting a home run in the majors. Garcia and Shaw, no doubt, did the same. Just a week ago they were in Sacramento, taking BP and surely still fostering those dreams.
Now those dreams are accomplished. If they pull a Duane Kuiper and never hit for power again, they will always have that one home run. If they struggle for the rest of September, start next year in the minors, and never again make it to the big show, they will always have that one home run.
Hopefully there are many, many more home runs in the bats of Garcia and Shaw, but regardless, that enormous career box has now been checked. It’s beautiful. I can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like.
So let’s do some reminiscing. 14 players on the Giants roster came up through the team’s system, and eventually made it to the Majors, where they hit their first dinger. Let’s remember them all, from yesterday’s iteration, all the way down to the one that occurred more than ten years ago. And let’s find the extra beauty in each one.
September 3, 2018: Chris Shaw
The beauty: If you’re a guy brought up to the bigs because of your power, this is exactly what you want your first home run (and hit!) to look like. It sounded like a home run. It looked like a home run. It was projected at a whopping 468 feet, which is the longest Giants home run in over than three years. It gave the Giants the lead in a pinch-hit situation; Shaw had one job, and he executed it to perfection. It was exactly as it should be.
August 31, 2018: Aramís García
The beauty: García isn’t supposed to be a big power guy, but with the Giants clinging to a one-run lead, and his instantly lovable family cheering on, García launched an absolute rocket. It launched a huge rally that ended with García blooping an RBI single later in the same inning. You can’t script it much better than that.
August 4, 2018: Steven Duggar
The beauty: Come for the golf swing home run, stay for the silent treatment, and really stay for Gorkys Hernández’s Oscar-worthy performance.
August 7, 2017: Ryder Jones
The beauty: A left-hander, hitting his first career home run at AT&T Park. What’s not to love?
August 3, 2017: Ty Blach
The beauty: This is still the only home run in Blach’s career. And it cleared the wall easily, to center field, in one of the worst hitting parks in the history of baseball. If you’re the kind of player who may end his career with one home run, it’s supposed to be a line drive, down the line at Coors Field, not a no-doubter to center at AT&T Park.
June 8, 2017: Austin Slater
The beauty: It was a rather strong home run for a batter who lacks power. And it was a go-ahead shot, which always makes things better.
June 8, 2016: Mac Williamson
The beauty: Williamson has 13 career home runs, and I’m fairly certain 12 of them were no-doubters. And then there’s this one, which has a pretty similar arc to one of those crazy Steph Curry shots where he just throws the ball as high as he can and it somehow goes in.
This ball kissed the moon and cleared the fence by inches. And it was a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning.
August 27, 2015: Kelby Tomlinson
The beauty: A first home run being a grand slam is always beautiful. But it’s especially beautiful for a player who has three home runs and 47 RBI in 672 career plate appearances. To borrow a phrase from the immortal Grant Brisbee, this an utter confluence of nonsense.
August 22, 2014: Joe Panik
The beauty: A go-ahead dinger that future teammate Denard Span tries, but fails, to chase down.
It took Panik 40 games of actually playing baseball to hit his first dinger, but the record will show that it actually took him 41 games, since his first career game came on May 22, a rain-delayed game that was finished on September 1, when he actually played in it. This quirk with baseball never fails to amuse me.
June 12, 2012: Madison Bumgarner
Pardon me while we briefly switch to YouTube, as the MLB.com link for this video takes us instead to a Miguel Cabrera dinger from five years later. Because naturally.
The beauty: It’s the prototypical Bumgarner dinger, of which we’ve been blessed with 17. It’s booming. The thwacking sound is unmistakable. It’s full of power and force and grace. It looks like the man split a cord of wood and then, without even pausing, grabbed a bat off the ground and crushed a baseball, just because he can.
May 27, 2011: Brandon Crawford
The beauty: I mean, it’s a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning. I don’t feel like I need to explain this one.
Also, he looks like such a youngster. I’m glad you found the luscious long locks and facial hair, DJ BC RAW.
April 1, 2011: Brandon Belt
The beauty: It was a go-ahead, three-run shot against the Dodgers. Against the freaking Dodgers. That’s how you make an entrance.
Belt’s shot to center field also seemed to take the announcers by surprise, which is a bit symbolic for his career. And there’s an Andres Torres sighting, so everyone wins.
But the most noticeable part of Belt’s home run was the two men on base: Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval. And here we are seven years later. For better, and for worse.
June 9, 2010: Buster Posey
The beauty: This home runs is kind of foreshadowing, in that it looks so much like the greatest play in the history of Posey: his 2012 NLDS grand slam. Same batter. Same ballpark. Same swing. Same final location for the ball.
August 27, 2008: Pablo Sandoval
I have no idea if you can actually see this video, because it won’t play on my browser. But hopefully you have better luck, because I cannot find it anywhere on YouTube.
The beauty: This was over a decade ago. That is the beauty, even if it is also the pain.
Hooray for home runs. And hooray for players hitting their first ones.