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Sunday, October 9, 2022

Jay Gainer homered in his first major league at bat, on the first pitch he saw; Saw 23 total ML games

Jay Gainer went to the plate in his first major leaguer at bat in May 1993 and accomplished something few others had done.

He not only homered in that first at bat, but he did so on the first pitch he saw, The Associated Press wrote

"I was joking around with the guys that I was going to do that. But I wasn't really thinking about it when I went up there," Gainer told The AP afterward. "But then (starter Tim) Pugh gave me a fastball right down the pipe."

Gainer went on from that fast start to have an almost-equally fast career. His major league career consisted of 23 total games, all played in that single season.

Gainer's career began in 1990, taken by the Padres in the 24th round of the draft out of the University of Southern Alabama.

Gainer started with the Padres at short-season Spokane. He hit .356 in 74 games, with 10 home runs. Gainer hit one of his early home runs for a grand slam, providing all the offense his team would need, The Bellingham Herald wrote.

"With him (the pitcher) behind in the count, I was pretty much sitting on the fastball," Gainer told The Herald. "... Everybody knew if you could get the ball up (to right field) it would go out."

Gainer moved to high-A High Desert for 1991 and then AA Wichita in 1992. He hit .261 in 105 games at Wichita.

The Padres then traded him to the Rockies. He started at AAA Colorado Springs. Then an injury to Rockies first baseman and cleanup hitter Andres Galaraga opened up a spot for Gainer. That first game, Gainer moved into the cleanup spot.

"No hesitation at all," Rockies manager Don Baylor told The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph of batting Gainer cleanup. "He's only going to remember his first major league at-bat anyway so what difference does it make where he bats?"

Gainer's first-pitch home run made him the 66th player to do so in his first at-bat and just the 12th to do so on the first pitch.

Gainer finished out the year with those 23 major league appearances. He went 7 for 41 and hit two more home runs.

Gainer then returned to Colorado Springs for the next two seasons. He didn't see Denver again. After not being credited in 1997, he returned in Mexico in 1998, then Italy and independent Allentown in 1999. He last played in Mexico and Allentown in 2001.

He later spent two seasons managing at short-season Yakima.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,045
Made the Majors:1,344-33.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,701-66.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:548
10+ Seasons in the Minors:333

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