A Rare Feat
What do Robert Person, Tyler Green and Randy Lerch have in common?
Well, they are three Phillies among a group of seven major league pitchers who have hit a home run in the first inning of their game.
This rare feat was brought to light when the Angels two-way phenom, Shohei Ohtani, homered in a game in which he was the starting pitcher earlier this season. It happened back on April 4 against the White Sox in Anaheim. Batting second, he went deep in the first inning off Dylan Cease.
That night a tweet was posted: “How rare is it for a pitcher to homer in the first inning? Here’s a list of everyone to do it in the last 50 years: Ohtani tonight, Carlos Zambrano 9/17 + 7/2/06, Robert Person 6/2/02, Tyler Green 8/23/95, Dwight Gooden 9/21/85, Randy Lerch 5/17/79 and Rick Rhoden 7/30/77.”
The three Phillies in chronological order:
Lerch did it in the infamous 23–22 wild afternoon in Wrigley Field when Mike Schmidt’s 10-inning homer gave the Phillies the win. Randy’s solo homer capped a seven-run first inning. But he never finished the first inning. He faced just six Cubs, retired one and was charged with five of Chicago’s six runs. The “Blade” was a pretty good hitting pitcher, a .206 career average, four homers and 23 RBI. Two of his long balls came when the Phillies clinched the NL East in Pittsburgh in 1978.
Green’s three-run homer capped a seven-run first inning against San Diego at Veterans Stadium. It came off Glenn Dishman and was his only major league homer. Phillies 12, Padres 8. Green did not get the win as he couldn’t get out of the second inning. WP: Mike Williams; SV: Mike Mimbs, lone save of his big-league career.
Person had a game like no other Phillies pitcher as a hitter. He hit a grand slam in the first inning off Montreal’s Bruce Chen at the Vet and followed with a three-run homer in the fifth (Masato Yoshii) in an 18–3 Phillies romp. Unlike Lerch and Green, Person picked up the win. He left the game after five innings with a 17–1 lead. In his career, he had two other homers and eight more RBI.
As far as Zambrano, Gooden and Rhoden, none of their homers came against the Phillies.