Have you ever watched an amateur long-distance race? Ever notice how there are a handful of runners who sprint out of the gate to claim an early lead, only to fall to the very back of the pack moments later?
That would best describe the careers of Bob Nieman and Keith McDonald.
Separated by nearly half a century, Nieman's and McDonald’s names sit side by side in MLB record books, not for their long-lasting success, but rather for a brief spark in their first few games as professional ball players.
They are the only two players in MLB history to hit two home runs in their first two major league at-bats.
On September 14, 1951, Bob Nieman made his debut as an outfielder for the St. Louis Browns and became one of three players to ever have two home runs in the very first game of his career (Bert Campaneris and Mark Quinn).
49 years later, on July 4, Keith McDonald would pinch-hit for the St. Louis Cardinals and homer in his first MLB plate appearance. Two days later, pinch-hitting again, McDonald homered in his second professional at-bat.
The rookie would finally cool off, going without a hit in his next six visits to the plate. A week later, however, McDonald knocked one out of the park in his ninth and final career at-bat.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s three career hits, all of which were home runs. Keith McDonald is the only player in history to do so.