## Batters' first homers as a Cub, Part 1

During their 147 seasons in the National League, 1876-2022, the Cubs used exactly 2,200 different players.

853, or 38.8 percent, hit at least 1 home run as a Cub: 753 position players and 100 pitchers.

How many of those first homers also were the batter's first big league homer?

How many homered in their first game as a Cub?

In their first plate appearance of their first game?

Which batter took the most games and PAs to hit his first homer?

What was the average number of games and PAs of the 853 first homers?

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METHODOLOGY

I looked at baseball-reference.com's season-by-season batting data for each of the 853 players, to determine his first season as a Cub, and whether he had hit a homer previously for any other team.

Next, I looked at his game-by-game batting log for his first Cub season and identified his first home run. If he hit no homers in his first season as a Cub, I looked at each subsequent season, until I found homer No. 1.

Once I found it, I calculated how many games and how many plate appearances he had as a Cub through his last game with no homers.

Then I determined the number of the PA in the game in which he homered for the first time, based on play-by-play at base-ball reference or Retrosheet.com, and/or accounts of the game in contemporary newspapers.

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FIRST MLB HOMER

Just under half the players, 422, hit their first big league homer as a Cub.

352 were position players: 52 in 1876-1900 and 300 in the Modern Era

70 were pitchers: 16 in 1876-1900 and 54 since then.

The first of the pitchers was Larry Corcoran, the first Cubs pitcher to hit a home run, in 1880.

The last was Mike Montgomery, in 2017.

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GAMES AND PAS

Game-by-game batting logs are not available for any players in seasons before 1901.

I could determine the game number for Cap Anson and Ross Barnes in 1876, since both played in every game of that season, so I could check the date of their first homer vs. the schedule.

But the only other player for whom I could be certain of a game number was pitcher Dad Clarke, who homered in his first game with the team in 1888.

And there is no definitive PA data even for those 3.

So, I decided to omit from calculations of games and PA the 85 players who hit their first homer as a Cub prior to the Modern Era. That leaves 768 players.

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I also subtracted from each player's games any in which he had no plate appearances.

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HOMER IN FIRST GAME

Of the 768 players who homered as a Cub in the Modern Era, 41 did it in their first game with the team -- 5.3 percent.

The first was Earl Webb, in 1927.

The most recent was Christopher Morel, in 2022.

Others who did in the 21st Century: Kosuke Fukudome (2008), Marlon Byrd (2010), Starlin Castro (2010), Cody Ransom (2013), Javier Baez (2014), Jorge Soler (2014) and Ian Happ (2017).

It was the first big league homer for all but Byrd and Ransom.

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HOMER BEFORE 10TH GAME

217 more homered for the first time no later than their fifth game as a Cub.

Here is the breakdown by game number, and the last player for each number, 2-5:

1: 41

2: 31 (Michael Hermosillo)

3: 50 (Seiya Suzuki)

4: 41 (Rafael Ortega)

5: 36 (Frank Schwindel)

That is a total of 199 players, 25.9 percent of all 768.

144 additional Cubs hit their first homer in games 6-9, for a total of 318, 41.4percent, who did it before their 10th game.

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HOMER IN FIRST PA

23 of the 41 who homered in their first game did so the first time they stepped to the plate.

The first was Webb; the last, Morel.

In 2016, Willson Contreras homered in his first PA, which came in his second game, after he had caught 1 inning 2 days earlier.

Here are all 24 first-PA homers, in alphabetical order by last name. An asterisk indicates it was the player's first big league homer:

Brett Barberie, Cuno Barragan*, Jim Bullinger*, Marlon Byrd, Starlin Castro*, Willson Contreras*, Frank Ernaga*, Carmen Fanzone*, Paul Gillespie*, Mickey Livingston, Jim Marshall, Lloyd McClendon

Ox Miller*, Christopher Morel*, Keith Moreland, Pat Perry*, Cody Ransom, Andre Rodgers, Henry Rodriguez, Bobby Smith, Jorge Soler*, Earl Webb*, Bump Wills, Don Zimmer

Bullinger, Miller and Perry were pitchers.

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Barberie, Barragan, Miller, Perry and Smith never hit another homer as a Cub. Ernaga hit 1 more; Bullinger, 2.

Moreland hit 100 homers as a Cub; Rodriguez, 75; and Castro, 62. None of the others hit more than the 28 by Rodgers.

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The homers by Miller and Perry were the only ones of their big league careers.

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HOMER BEFORE 10TH PA

55 more homered for the first time no later than their fifth PA as a Cub.

Here is the breakdown by game number, and the last player for each number, 2-5:

1: 24

2: 13 (Michael Hermosillo)

3: 11 (Anthony Recker)

4: 16 (Trayce Thompson)

5: 15 (Robel Garcia)

That is a total of 79 players, 10.3 percent of all 768.

53 additional Cubs hit their first homer in PA 6-9, for a total of 132, 17.2 percent, who did it before their 10th PA.

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HOMER ON FIRST PITCH

At least 5 of the 24 who homered in their first PA did it on the first pitch they saw: Miller (1947), Bullinger (1992), Barberie (1996), Ransom (2013) and Contreras (2016).

11 verifiably did it on a later pitch:

2nd: Byrd (0-1 count), Smith (unknown) and Wills (unknown)

3rd: McClendon (1-1), Perry (2-0), Rodriguez (0-2) and Webb (2-0)

4th: Soler (2-1)

5th: Castro (2-2) and Zimmer (2-2)

6th: Morel (3-2)

No pitch-count data is available for the remaining 8.

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Julio Zuleta's first homer as a Cub came on the 12th pitch he saw, highest number known for any initial homer.

His solo shot in the eighth inning at San Francisco on May 27, 2000, came after these pitches: ball, foul, foul, foul, ball, foul, foul, foul, foul, ball, foul.

Note that Zuleta neither swung and missed nor had a called strike on any pitch.

Zuleta's homer was the first of his career, in his 10th game and 27th PA. It tied the score at 2, as Rodriguez, the previous batter, had homered on an 0-1 count.

Rodriguez doubled leading off the 11th, went to third on a groundout by Zuleta and scored 2 batters later on sacrifice fly by Jose Nieves. The Cubs blanked the Giants in the bottom of the inning to secure a 3-2 victory.

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MOST GAMES UNTIL FIRST HOMER

Turner Barber, an outfielder and first baseman, played 35 games for the Washington Senators in 1915-16. He hit 1 homer, in his 24th game.

He began 1917 with Baltimore of the International League and did not homer in 149 games.

On Aug. 5, he was sold to the Cubs, for whom he played 7 games in September without hitting a homer.

He was homerless again in 1918 (55 games), 1919 (76), 1920 (94) and his first 67 games of 1921.

Finally, on July 18, at Brooklyn, Barber delivered a 3-run, inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning.

That was his 400th game, most by any Cub before hitting his first home run.

Johnny Evers and Jim Slagle both needed 365 games.

Bobby Sturgeon ranks fourth, with 229, followed by Johnny Kling, with 199.

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A total of 22 players took at least 100 games, including 4 pitchers: Larry French and Greg Maddux (both 149), Ken Holtzman (108) and Rick Reuschel (100).

The most recent to reach triple digits in games without a homer was Paul Bako, who homered in his 107th game, in 2004.

The last before Bako was Larry Bowa, in his 168th game, in 1983.

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The most games with at least 1 PA by a Cub who never hit a homer is 322, by outfielder Jack McCarthy, in 1903-05.

Catcher Bill Killefer played 212, in 1918-21, and infielder Mick Keller played 300, in 1976-80.

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MOST PA UNTIL FIRST HOMER

Slagle's initial home run came in his 1,663rd trip to the plate.

Evers needed 1,442; Barber, 1,058; Sturgeon, 930; Davy Jones, 792; and Kling, 787.

6 others required at least 500, from Bernie Friberg (502) to Bowa (644), for a total of 12 that were halfway to 1,000.

They are among 58 who needed at least 200.

11 of the 58 were pitchers, led by French (411), Maddux (378), Orval Overall (297), Holtzman (294) and Bill Lee (253).

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TOMORROW: Second homer in same game, walk-offs, pinch hitters and grand slams

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