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The 15: Best MLB Debuts For Orioles Players

June 15, 2015

Orioles right-hander Mike Wright burst onto the major league scene with an outstanding debut for the Birds May 17. But he wasn't the only Oriole in club history to make a splash during his first big league game. Here's a chronological look at 15 of the most memorable major league debuts since the O's arrived in Baltimore in 1954.

1. 3B Brooks Robinson (Sept. 17, 1955)

Of the four Orioles Legends who started their playing career with the O's -- Robinson, right-hander Jim Palmer, first baseman Eddie Murray and shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. -- only Robinson had an especially memorable debut. At the age of 18, Robinson joined the O's near the end of the 1955 season. During his first game, he went 2-for-4, contributing an RBI single to help the Orioles beat the Washington Senators, 3-1. Those were the only two hits Robinson recorded that year -- he went 0-for-18 afterward -- but it's safe to say his career turned out just fine.

2. RHP Charlie Beamon (Sept. 26, 1956)

Only the most die-hard Orioles fans are likely to recall Beamon, whose major league career was limited to 27 games during the late 1950s. But his big league debut was one to remember. Pitching against the New York Yankees, Beamon went the distance with a complete-game shutout at Memorial Stadium, despite walking seven batters. He outdueled Yankees left-handed ace Whitey Ford, who was vying for his 20th victory of the season, during a game the O's won, 1-0.

3. LHP Dave McNally (Sept. 26, 1962)

McNally -- who had four 20-win seasons, three top-five Cy Young Award finishes and three All-Star selections as an Oriole -- set the tone for his sterling career in Baltimore during his major league debut. Pitching against the Kansas City Athletics at Memorial Stadium, the 19-year-old McNally spun a complete game shutout, retiring the last 17 batters he faced in winning a 3-0 decision. He worked in perfect tandem with catcher Andy Etchebarren -- who was making his big league debut during that same game.

4. C Larry Haney (July 27, 1966)

Of the 182 position players to make their major league debuts with the Orioles, only two have ever hit a home run during their first game. The first to do it was Haney, who blasted a two-run shot off the Cleveland Indians' John O'Donoghue (who later became his Orioles teammate). Haney fared pretty well behind the plate during his debut, too, catching a complete game victory by McNally.

5. RHP Tom Phoebus (Sept. 15, 1966)

Phoebus became the third Oriole to begin his major league career with a complete game shutout, beating the California Angels, 2-0, at Memorial Stadium. During his nine-inning gem, Phoebus had more strikeouts (eight) than base runners allowed (six). Adding to the special occasion was the fact that Phoebus was a hometown boy, born and raised in Baltimore as a rabid Orioles fan before signing with the Birds as an amateur free agent in 1960.

6. OF Don Baylor (Sept. 18, 1970)

Baylor made his mark with a heroic performance against the Indians during his debut. In his first major league at bat, he smacked a bases-loaded single to drive in two runs. Ten innings later, he stepped to the plate with the score tied, 3-3, in the bottom of the 11th, and he promptly won it with an RBI single, becoming the only Oriole ever to deliver a walk-off hit during his first major league game.

7. RHP Jesse Jefferson (June 23, 1973)

Several O's starting pitchers have debuted by pitching seven, eight or nine innings during their first big league game. But Jefferson one-upped them all by debuting with a 10-inning complete game at Fenway Park in Boston. He held a 1-0 lead until two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Red Sox third baseman Rico Petrocelli tied the game with a homer. Undaunted, Jefferson returned for the 10th inning after the O's got the lead back, finishing what he started to seal the victory.

8. RHP Dennis Martinez (Sept. 14, 1976)

Although Martinez made 243 career starts for the Orioles, his superb major league debut was actually a long relief appearance. After starting pitcher Ross Grimsley and reliever Dave Pagan combined to give up seven runs to the Tigers, Martinez entered in the fourth inning and blanked Detroit the rest of the way, working 5.2 scoreless innings and striking out five. His sterling effort allowed the O's to come back from a 6-0 deficit and eventually win, 9-7.

9. RHP Dave Ford (Sept. 2, 1978)

Ford, an Orioles first-round draft pick in 1975, didn't have a long major league career. But it started out with a bang. Pitching against the Chicago White Sox during his debut, Ford worked into the ninth inning, scattering seven hits and allowing no runs. He exited with two runners aboard in the ninth, but reliever Tippy Martinez induced a game-ending double play to seal Ford's 1-0 win.

10. RHP Bob Milacki (Sept. 18, 1988)

At the tail end of a miserable season during which the O's went 54-107, Milacki provided at least one game worth watching. During his debut, Milacki dominated the Detroit Tigers on the road, allowing one hit during eight shutout innings. He walked four batters, but eliminated three of them on double plays. The following year, Milacki became a key rotation member for the "Why Not?" Birds' surprising 1989 pennant chase.

11. RHP Anthony Telford (Aug. 19, 1990)

Telford, like Milacki, limited his opponent to one hit during his major league debut, pitching seven shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics at Memorial Stadium. Telford didn't exactly blow hitters away -- he didn't have any strikeouts -- but he cruised to victory regardless. That debut was essentially the highlight of Telford's Oriole career -- he ended up with a 5.12 ERA during parts of three seasons with the Birds.

12. LHP Chris Waters (Aug. 5, 2008)

Sometimes, successful big league debuts emerge out of nowhere from the most unexpected sources. Such was the case with Waters, a so-so minor league journeyman whom the O's called up in 2008 during the club's pitching-thin era. Waters promptly pitched the game of his life in Anaheim, holding the Angels to one hit during eight shutout innings, leading the O's to a 3-0 win. Waters' big league career lasted 16 games, but he'll never forget his first one.

Orioles 2012: Manny Machado
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

13. 3B Manny Machado (Aug. 9, 2012)

In the midst of a pennant race in 2012, the Orioles shocked fans by promoting Machado -- who was a month removed from his 20th birthday -- straight from Double-A Bowie to play third base, even though he'd been exclusively a shortstop in the minors. The decision paid off handsomely, beginning with Machado's big league debut, when he went 2-for-4 with a triple (albeit in a losing effort) against the Kansas City Royals.

14. 2B Jonathan Schoop (Sept. 25, 2013)

Forty-seven years after Haney was the first Oriole to homer during his major league debut, Schoop became the second. He went 2-for-3 with a homer and three runs scored against the Toronto Blue Jays, part of a 9-5 victory at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Schoop had been on the Orioles' bench for 10 days before making his first appearance. When he got his chance, he made the most of it.

15. RHP Mike Wright (May 17, 2015)

The most recent entrant into the dazzling debuts club, Wright -- pressed into an emergency start when scheduled starter Chris Tillman suffered back stiffness -- took the ball and ran with it. Pitching against the Angels at Camden Yards, Wright dominated for 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits, striking out six batters and walking none. Relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton combined with Wright for a 3-0 shutout.

Issue 210: June 2015