One-Season Wonders Of Baseball

Ryan SmithCorrespondent IApril 1, 2009

In baseball, you never know what to expect.

One day, you can be on top of the world, and the next day, you're announceing your retirement.

Only a select few have had a consistently good career. Others have had fluctuating careers.

Yet some, have tasted the glory, but only for a season.

Many have been rookies, others veterans, however, they all belong in the same category: one-season wonders.


Mark "Bird" Fidrych (1976-1980)

1976 Season Stats: 19-9, 2.34 ERA, 97 K, 250.3 IP

Career Stats: 29-19, 3.10 ERA, 170 K, 412.3 IP 

Don't be fooled by the numbers, they may look pretty good, but things aren't always as they appear. 

In 1976, Fidrych was a 21-year-old rookie with the Detroit Tigers. He had career numbers in 1976, and many thought he was destined for greatness.

Sadly, it wasn't to be.  He managed to win the Rookie of the Year Award and finish second in the Cy Young Award voting, though, he never played another full season in the majors. He went 10-10 over the next four years after being plagued by arm injuries.


Louis "Chief" Sockalexis (1897-1899)

1897 Stats: .338 BA, 3 HR, 43 RBI, 94 H, 16 SB

Career Stats: .313 BA, 3 HR, 55 RBI, 115 H, 16 SB

Sockalexis is widely referred to as "the greatest player you never heard of" and for good reason. He was a fantastic college athlete.  Once he reached the majors he was taunted for being a Native American which was one of the reasons leading to alcohol problems.

After signing with the Cleveland Spiders in 1897, he got off to a hot start.

While intoxicated, Sockalexis jumped from a second-story window, injured his ankle. He never played the same. His hitting was unscathed, but his fielding suffered.

After two more years, Sockalexis couldn't take any more of the racial insults. He retired from baseball in 1899. The Spiders disbanded that year, but soon after baseball returned to Cleveland. What was there name? The Indians.


Bumpus Jones (1892-1893)

1892 Stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K, 9.0 IP

Career Stats: 2-4, 7.99 ERA, 10 K, 41.0 IP

Bumpus Jones pitched in only one game for the Cincinnati Reds, in 1892. Jones pitched a no-hitter on the last day of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His no-hitter was not a shutout: he did allow one unearned run.  

Jones didn’t enjoy any more success. The next year he split time with the Reds and New York Giants, but had an ERA of 7.99. He never pitched in the majors again.


Bobo Holloman (1953)

Career Stats: 3-7, 5.23 ERA, 25 K, 65.3 IP

Bobo Holloman joined Bumpus Jones as the only other player to pitch a no-hitter in their first career start on May 6, 1953. It wasn’t his first game for he had previously pitched in a relief role. He threw it against the Philadelphia Athletics.

Holloman would go and pitch 20 more games that season. Holloman’s main flaw was his WHIP. He had a WHIP of 1.82 during his sole season.


Brian Doyle (1978-1981)

1978 Postseason Stats: .391 BA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 9 H, 0 SB

Career Stats: .161 BA, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 32 H, 1 SB

Brian Doyle never had success during the regular season. His career batting average is well below the Mendoza line, and he wasn’t much of a power hitter.

In the 1978 postseason, the New York Yankees were faced the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. In nine postseason games, Doyle posted great numbers, to help the Yankees complete a second consecutive World Series campaign. He never batted above .200 in his career.


Joe Charboneau (1980-1982)

1980 Stats: .289 BA, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 131 H, 2 SB

Career Stats: .266 BA, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 172 H, 3 SB

Charboneau is a perfect example of a one-season wonder.  The 1980 Rookie of the Year, played two more years and his batting averages were .214 and .210. He power numbers also decreased as he hit only four home runs the next year.


Billy Grabarkewitz (1969-1975)

1970 Stats: .289 BA, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 153 H, 19 SB

Career Stats: .236 BA, 28 HR, 141 RBI, 274 H, 33 SB

Grabarkewitz (nicknamed Grabs) was a terrible disappointment in his first year (6 H in 65 AB). He bounced back the next year with an All-Star year.

After being traded to the California Angels in 1972, he spent the next three years with the Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Oakland Athletics. He never regained his stardom.