Top 10 hitter callups
J.D. Drew's 1998 debut for the Cards was memorable in many ways -- mostly for his teammate Mark McGwire.
September feels like an end to some baseball fans, but for many players, it's only the beginning.
As rosters expand to 40, minor leaguers across the nation will get their first call to the bigs. Some are top prospects. Some are bus-weary journeymen. Either way, a select few will arrive in the majors, get that long-awaited opportunity -- and hit the crap out of the ball.
The following are the top 10 September callups in major league history, hitters only. For research accuracy, only players making their major league debuts are included; roster information is too difficult to sift through to identify players who, for example, came up a few times during the year, got sent down in August, and then were recalled in September.
Some of these players went on to stardom. For others, their first September was by far the highlight of their career. But they all made that first month plenty memorable:
10. Ted Cox, 1977 Red Sox
A former first-round pick just off winning the International League's MVP award, Cox made one heck of a splash in his first game that September: He rapped out four hits in four at-bats. He started with another pair the next day to establish the major league record by kicking off his career 6-for-6. Cox ended the season with a .362 average, making him even more attractive to other teams; the Sox wound up using him to acquire Dennis Eckersley from Cleveland the following spring. As for Cox, of course his hot streak couldn't last -- he played parts of only four more seasons, batting .245 lifetime.
9. Tripp Sigman, 1929 Phillies
Getting outfield at-bats wasn't exactly easy on the 1929 Phillies -- not with Lefty O'Doul and Chuck Klein out there. But Sigman sure gave it his best shot. Getting his first chance on Sept. 18, he proceeded to go 15-for-29 (.517) with two home runs in 10 games. Alas, Sigman was no O'Doul or Klein; he played 52 games the next year, batted .270, and never played in the bigs again.
8. Kevin Seitzer, 1986 Royals
A consistent .320 hitter while moving up the minor league ladder, Seitzer kept it going after his September callup, batting .323-2-11 in 28 games and demonstrating his fine eye with 19 walks. Not the greatest numbers, perhaps, but they set up a titanic shift in the Royals organization: Seitzer took the third-base job the following spring, moving George Brett to first. All Seitzer did in 1987 to back that up was bat .323 (again) and lead the American League with 207 hits.
7. Bob Elliott, 1939 Pirates
A 23-year-old budding power hitter, Elliott proved the worthiness of his bat in 32 games with the Pirates. He put up a .333 average with 16 extra-base hits, including three home runs, and struck out just four times in 129 at-bats. Elliott's debut earned him the starting right-field job the following year, and he went on to drive in 100 runs or more six times in his 15-year career. He made seven All-Star teams and won the 1947 National League MVP award.
6. J.D. Drew, 1998 Cardinals
Having spent most of the previous two summers holding out with the Northern League's St. Paul Saints, Drew arrived in St. Louis to media mayhem -- but not for him. He made his debut on Sept. 8, just a few innings after Mark McGwire had hit his 62nd home run to break Roger Maris' record. With all the hullabaloo surrounding McGwire, Drew was able to rather quietly destroy opposing pitchers the rest of the way. He batted .417 with five home runs and 13 RBI in his 14 games.
5. Dwayne Hosey, 1995 Red Sox
With their outfield a mess in the mid-1990s, the Red Sox desperately wanted someone to step forward and supplant Lee Tinsley and Willie McGee in center field. It sure looked as though it might be Hosey when the 28-year-old minor league veteran came up in September 1995 and batted .338 with three homers and a 1.026 OPS in 24 games. Hosey earned that starting center-field spot the next spring but batted just .218, lost the job for good by the end of June and never played in the majors again. (Interestingly, a Sox September callup several months later, Rudy Pemberton -- who had played the previous season with Detroit -- batted .512 in his trial but couldn't stick, either.)
4. Craig Wilson, 1998 White Sox
With A-Rods and Nomars sprouting all over the American League, Southsiders wanting a power-hitting shortstop of their own got it, if only briefly, with Wilson in September 1998. Making his major league debut just two days after his 28th birthday, Wilson proceeded to bat a whopping .468-3-10 with five doubles in 13 games, for a 1.266 OPS. It was just a temporary spurt, however, and Wilson was out of the majors in less than two years.
3. Mark Quinn, 1999 Royals
One of just two September debut players to launch six home runs his first season -- the other was Luis Medina for the 1988 Indians -- Quinn batted .333-6-18 in 17 games for the Royals, including two homers in his first game. (He was just the fourth big leaguer ever to go deep twice in his debut.) Quinn backed up that strong September with a .294-20-78 full season the following year. But some injuries, a grating cockiness and his going 241 straight plate appearances without an unintentional walk at one point doomed him. He was released by Kansas City in spring 2003 and played for the Cardinals' Triple-A Memphis affiliate this season, batting .218.
2. Fred Lynn, 1974 Red Sox
Lynn was a tremendous prospect both at the University of Southern California and in the minors -- he broke his first spring training in 1974 with Triple-A Pawtucket and batted .282-21-68 -- and beguiled Boston in his September callup. He batted .419-2-10 in 15 games to all but grab the center-field job for '75. Unlike Hosey and Pemberton, Lynn kept it and became a star -- he batted .331-21-105 as a rookie and won the MVP award.
1. Joe Medwick, 1932 Cardinals
After watching Medwick hit .354 -- with a ridiculous 54 outfield assists -- for Houston of the Texas League, the Cardinals called him up and discovered the phenom was no fluke. The 5-foot-10, muscle-bound Medwick hit .349 with 12 doubles in 26 games to win the left-field job for the following year. All he did after that was bat .337 with an average of 123 RBI over the next seven seasons. He won the National League's last triple crown in 1937 and was elected to the Hall of Fame. As it turned out, Medwick's incredible debut was mirrored nine years later by another Cardinals outfielder, someone who hit .426 in his first September trial with the big club. His name was Stan Musial.
Alan Schwarz is the senior writer of Baseball America and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. His new book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," is published by St. Martin's Press and can be ordered on Alan's Web site.
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