Last winter I dabbled with a feature called “Flashback Friday” and it largely focused on bringing readers Minnesota Twins historical news, tidbits and whimsy.
We’ll run it again this winter — and who knows, maybe into the season if it’s popular enough — but this time around, we’ll do some Twins stuff but won’t limit ourselves to just that.
And today’s find is a super fun one — WE FOUND A-ROD’S MLB DEBUT ON YOUTUBE!
Amidst all the recent chatter about how too many hitters are trying to hit home runs and are striking out at historic levels — the latter of which is indisputably true — I’ve found the yearning to go back to a different version of the game a bit offputting.
Sure, players putting the ball in play might be more entertaining to the average fan, but is it really better baseball to see six fewer strikeouts in a game and more grounders to short?
I personally think baseball is as entertaining as it ever has been, with the added homers and strikeouts more than making up for added balls in play from, say, 1994 — like this video comes from.
But I didn’t want to base that feeling solely on looking at the numbers, so I randomly plugged in some MLB + years into YouTube to see what games I could find to watch online to see if numbers and the actual games backed up my thought process.
In short, yeah, it did.
But there is also a treasure trove of fun games to watch on YouTube, besides. I watched a game where — incidentally, it was Dave Roberts’ MLB debut — Wade Boggs had his 3,000th hit for the Tampa Bay Devils Rays against a loaded Cleveland Indians team.
The final score of that game was 15-10 — 1999 was a magical time, friends — and hitting 5-6-7-8 that day for the Indians was an incredible bunch:
- 5. Jim Thome
- 6. David Justice
- 7. Richie Sexson
- 8. Russell Branyan
I like to imagine Thome, Sexson and Branyan in a bizarro Spiderman pointing meme photo where Thome is twice the size of the other two, but they’re all pointing at one another nonetheless.
But we aren’t here to talk about that!
We’re here to talk about the debut to the wonderful, wild and controversial career of one Alex Rodriguez.
July 1994 was a really, really weird month in my life. Believe it or not, for 8-year-old me the MLB strike was only the second-most tragic thing that happened in my life around that time frame (July/August).
On July 17, I was in a very bad car accident where my stepfather was killed, my younger brother was paralyzed and I broke my spine and had significant injuries to my intestines, necessitating a colostomy.
I’ll leave it at that, but if you want to read more about it you can here.
But nine days before that, Rodriguez debut at shortstop for a loaded Mariners team that was headed nowhere. Well, everyone was headed nowhere, as the World Series was canceled that fall. But the Mariners, with Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner, were headed for third place in the newly created AL West and a 49-63 record.
Rodriguez debuted just 19 days shy of his 19th birthday, and had to wait out a rain delay at Fenway Park before he got his chance to face Chris Nabholz and the Boston Red Sox.
Here’s how the Mariners lined up that day:
Here’s how the Red Sox countered:
It was a fairly uneventful debut for Rodriguez — who ended up hitting just .204/.241/.204 in that 17-game cup of espresso — but I still find it fascinating to go back and see where legendary careers began. Especially when they begin as young as this one did.
So carve out a couple hours and watch some classic 1994 baseball.