Over at Bronx Banter, I took a look back at the history of Yankees’ September call-ups, but because Jesus Montero’s arrival has been so widely anticipated, it’s probably more apt to consider his first game along side every pinstripe debut, not just the ones that have occurred during the season’s last month.
When Montero sees his first pitch in the major leagues, he will become the 275th position player since 1919 to debut as a Yankee. Included on that list are all of the Yankees’ home grown standouts, ranging from past legends like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle to modern stars like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Robinson Cano. However, names like Joe Lucey, Chicken Hawks, Tom Shopay, and Mike Figga are just as prevalent. Obviously, the Yankees hope Montero will fall more in line with the former group.
Although all eyes will be on Montero in his debut, it’s worth noting that first impressions mean little when it comes to projecting long-term contributions. For every Joe DiMaggio who breaks in with three hits, there is a Charlie Silvera who does the same. Similarly, just because a rookie takes a collar in his first game doesn’t mean he will be overmatched. Although that may have been the case for a player like Benny Bengough, it certainly didn’t apply to Derek Jeter.
In honor of Montero’s much heralded arrival, listed below are the most triumphant and deflating first games played by a Yankee making his major league debut.
Best/Worst Debuts Ranked by Hits, Since 1919
Top-/Bottom-Five Debuts Ranked by WPA, Since 1919