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Toots Coyone: We Hardly Knew Ye!

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Fresh from an all-too-quick weekend jaunt to Rev's house (more on that later), my start has been moved up a day while baseballgirl entertains baseballparents.

So as you sip from your cup of coffee this morning, allow me to segue over to those major leaguers who were one-and-done; that is, players who appeared in just a single game in their "career".

Unless you are from another planet or have simply sworn off Kevin Costner movies for all eternity- and well, who could blame you- you surely are aware of Moonlight Graham; that one-hit wonder made famous by the "Field of Dreams".  (Before the movie, there was the book, Shoeless Joe).  If you recall, Graham played a single inning in the majors, but never got the opportunity to bat.  In Costner's dreamy playground, a younger version of Graham indeed gets to "feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball" and drives in a run with a sacrifice fly.  Later he crosses over to the land of the living, slaps a hot dog out of the thorat of Costner's daughter, and is transformed to the older version of himself, to the doctor he would eventually become.  Before he disappears into the cornfield, Shoeless Joe tells him "you did good", and then tears flow, and...well, let's move on.

Turns out Graham's character imitated real life- his life- and about 900 other players who have made a cameo in The Show.  Baseball-reference.com reports 971 such major-leaguers as of this morning, including Jason Donald, who made his debut yesterday.  687 players are post-1901; 505 are pitchers (388 in the modern era).

There are 62 Athletics on this list, and I wish I had the time to tell each of their stories.  I was actually able to track one of them down so there's an interview coming soon at an A's site near you.  (Oh wait, this is the only A's site.  Sorry Tyler!  Hold on, the phone is ringing.  How does he do that?)

The first Athletic to appear in only one contest was Pete Loos.  There's a reason why Loos made his debut and said his farewell all at once on May 2, 1901: as the game's starting pitcher, he allowed two hits, walked four, and gave up five runs (three earned) in one inning.  The A's were beaten by Boston 23-12, and Loos- tagged with the loss- was never heard from again.

Ed Hilley is one of nine A's to get a hit in his only game, and one of two to score a run.  He also walked, and had an eventful day in the field at third base: he had an assist, three putouts, an error, and took part in a double play.

All in a career's work, I guess.

John Kull made the most of his only day in the major leagues on October 2, 1909.  Pitching the last three innings of the second game of a double-header (and of the A's season), Kull proved to be effectively wild- he struck out four, but also walked five and hit a batter- in earning the victory.  Unlike Moonlight Graham, Kull did get to hit, and hit he did, driving in two runs with a single.

Bill Bradford's performance on April 24, 1956 was not nearly as stellar.  Entering the eighth inning of 5-3 game (Tigers were beating the A's), Bradford served up a homerun to the first batter he ever faced- Ray Boone (the father of Bob, and grandfather of Aaron and Bret, big-leaguers all).  After retiring the next two batters, Bradford allowed another homerun.  He'd allow no other hits but the damage was done.  So was his big-league career.

Known more for coaching Nebraska to a school-record 767 wins, John Sanders was sent into a game as a pinch-runner for the A's in 1956.  Talk about your brief stays.  The next two batters made out, stranding Sanders at first, and that would be the last time he'd step onto a major-league field (as a player).

According to Wikipedia:

On May 4, 1965, the A's lost Sanders on waivers to the Boston Red Sox when they attempted to send him to the minor leagues for more seasoning.  He played in the Red Sox, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals farm systems through 1968 before quitting the pro game. Overall, he batted .269 with ten home runs in 205 minor league games.

Scott Baker is one of six Oakland A's on our list.  He was the player-to-be-named later in the trade that sent Walt Weiss to Florida, and entered in relief on July 17, 1995.  In 3-2/3 innings of work, Baker allowed four runs on five hits.  The San Jose native struck out three and walked five.  He would never play in another major-league game.

Neither would the starting pitcher Baker relieved: Dave Stewart.

***

Some very quick and random thoughts about my trip to Anaheim:

- It was the first time I saw a game in a stadium other than the two Bay Area parks. Weird, I know.

- My first thought when I entered the stadium was that it smelled like churros.  And to be honest, I don't even know if they sell them there.

- There was one uncomfortable moment when I was on the first of two escalators to get to my seat.  I was one lonely A's fan squeezed amid a sea of red.  It's times like these when an evil twin comes in handy.  Also, I must have had to walk through four or five secret corridors just to find my section. And apparently my section wasn't good enough to stand alone: Sections 348-351 (arrow).

- Always a pleasure to sit with our founder- and as a special treat, Tyler brought his 5-year old daughter, Maya, who I got to baby-sit while her daddy disappeared to buy chicken strips.  She drew smiles from all around her with her chants of "Come on Kouz!" and her bout with cotton candy.

- I love the fact that I could purchase beer without leaving my seat, a luxury I have never had the pleasure of enjoying at the Coliseum.

- Baseballgirl was an awesome hostess- to A's and Angel fans alike.  One of the gentlemen in attendance was Rev Halofan.  I had heard only less-than-complimentary things about the man, but in real life, he wasn't half-bad.  ‘Course his team was kicking our asses up and down the field.

- It was great meeting more fellow AN members!

- So I definitely want to make my way down there again, and maybe next time I might put some planning into it.

Tonight we have the A's and Tigers as mini-series week continues.

As for Toots Coyne?  Two at-bats, two strikeouts.