On this day in 1954 the Milwaukee Braves opened their season in wild fashion, losing 9-8 to the Reds. Eddie Mathews had a pair of home runs in the game as the two teams combined for 26 hits and eight walks. The most notable player in this game, however, didn't reach base a single time. Batting fifth and playing in left field, Hank Aaron went 0-for-5 in his major league debut.
Aaron was slightly more than two months removed from his 20th birthday, and was only in the majors because the Braves' regular left fielder, Bobby Thomson, had broken his ankle during spring training. Aaron quickly proved himself as a hitter, though, and never went back to the minors.
By the end of April 1954 Aaron was hitting .333/.379/.519, and he finished the season with a .280/.322/.447 line. The next season he made his first of All Star appearances in 21 consecutive seasons, and two years after that he won his MVP award and World Series.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2010 Brewer Lorenzo Cain, who turns 27.
- 2001 Brewer Mark Leiter, who turns 50.