A minor-league player dreams of his first major-league hit for years. Coming to the plate, maybe with a runner in scoring position, squaring up the pitch and sending it far into the outfield. Maybe it would even be a home run, the most memorable kind of first hit.
J.T. Riddle had a very different kind of first hit. It wasn’t a home run, but it was definitely weird. And that’s a whole different kind of memorable.
Riddle is a shortstop, and the No. 12 prospect in the Miami Marlins system. He got his first call-up to the big show over the weekend after Adeiny Hechavarria went on the disabled list, and he started in his very first major-league game Wednesday when the Marlins faced the Atlanta Braves. He came to the plate in the second inning, searching for a hit in his first MLB at-bat.
Riddle was down 0-2 in the count when pitcher Jaime Garcia threw a pitch that was nearly in the dirt. Riddle did a quick check swing, but made contact with the ball, which is probably not what he wanted to do. He essentially golfed the ball up the third base line, where it could have easily gone foul. Riddle stood there watching it for a split second, and then broke into a sprint. Because the ball wasn’t going foul.
Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia made a wild stab at the ball and threw it at first base, but Riddle’s sprint got him there before the ball arrived. He was safely on base after one of the weirdest accidental first hits you’ll ever see.
Years from now, when Riddle tells the tale of his first MLB hit to his grandchildren, hopefully he keeps the story exactly as it happened. When your first major league hit is an accidental check swing squibber that you golfed up the third-base line, you should be proud.
Every MLB player has a first hit, but very, very few are as weird and memorable as that one.
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