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Angels 1961 Debuts

The season with the most Angel debuts is, unsurprisingly, the FIRST Angels season, when 45 players appeared in games for the then-expansion Angels.

So who was the FIRST Angel? Well, I had always thought that Eli Grba, the opening day pitcher for the Angels had that honor. But the box score shows the Angels as the visiting team on April 11, 1961. So the leadoff batter, veteran Third Baseman Eddie Yost takes that title. He popped to shortstop, coincidentally the final out of the 2002 ALCS that put the Angels in the World Series 4+ decades later.

Retrosheet records the first inning thusly:

ANGELS 1ST: Yost popped to shortstop; Aspromonte was called out on strikes; Pearson walked; Kluszewski homered [Pearson scored]; Cerv homered; Hunt walked; Brickell popped to shortstop.

So before Grba could throw a pitch, 7 Angels had made their debuts. Only Catcher Del Rice - receiving the pitch Grba threw - would debut after him. In the 7th inning, Becquer replaced Kluszewski at 1B and in the 8th, Johnson replaced Cerv in Left Field. Grba pitched a complete game victory.

So 11 Angels made their debuts in the very first Angels game:

1. - Eddie Yost
2. - Ken Aspromonte
3. - Albie Pearson
4. - Ted Kluszewski
5. - Bob Cerv
6. - Ken Hunt
7. - Fritz Brickell
8. - Eli Grba
9. - Del Rice
10. - Julio Becquer
11. - Lou Johnson

Johnson - later on the hero of the 1965 World Series for the Dodgers - never had an at-bat as an Angel. He was traded two days later for Leon Wagner.

One can assume a few rainouts occurred in Baltimore after the 7-2 Angels victory, as the 2nd Angel game ever was four days later in Boston. It featured the first-ever pitching change in Angels history - Ron Moeller replacing Jerry Casale in the bottom of the 6th. This being before the Designated hitter, the top of the 7th delivered the first ever Angels pinch-hitter (but not the first pinch hit as Faye Throneberry grounded out). Tex Clevenger (born in Visalia, by the way) was the third Angels pitcher that afternoon.

The Angels' first appearance at Fenway Pahk was not without controversy, as it featured the first ever Angel player ejection:
Yost was called out on strikes; Yost ejected for arguing called third strike. This was only Yost's 2nd ejection in 16 years.
Eddie Yost was replaced in the field by Gene Leek.

12. - Jerry Casale
13. - Ron Moeller
14. - Faye Throneberry
15. - Tex Clevenger
16. - Gene Leek

The average Angel season had approximately 16 players debut, so 1961 will likely be a three-part entry on this blog. Since the 3rd Angels game ever was a doozy of debuts, I will pick it up there in a day or two...

1961, Part 2

1961, Part 3