George Kottaras and the greatest one-game wonders in Indians history

Jason Miller

If Kottaras never plays for the Indians again, he'll be perhaps the greatest single-game player in franchise history.

George Kottaras made his Indians debut on Sunday, and what a debut it was. Kottaras became the first player in franchise history to hit a home run in each of his first two at bats. He'd only been added to the roster in order to cover for Yan Gomes, who was away on paternity leave, and so with Gomes returning, Kottaras was designated for assignment. It isn;t yet known whether he's cleared waivers or not. If he does, he could return to Columbus, in which case he could end up playing for the Tribe again before the end of the season. He that doesn't happen though, he'll go down as maybe the greatest one-game wonder in franchise history.

Only 74 players have appeared in one and only one game for the Indians (Blues/Bronchos/Naps). 43 of them appeared as pitchers, 31 of them as positions players, pinch hitters, or pinch runners. Most of those players made their single appearance a long time ago. In the last fifty years, only 14 players have played a lone game for the Indians, 7 of them as relief pitchers, 4 as a catcher, 2 as a pinch hitter, and 1 as a left fielder.

The last player to start a game at pitcher in his only appearance with the Indians was Jake Striker, in 1959. He is also the last pitcher to be credited with the win in his only game with the team. Striker pitched 6.2 innings, allowing 2 run on 8 hits, with 5 strikeouts (making him the only player ever with more than 3 strikeouts in his only game with the team). The game was during the final week of the season, and Striker was traded to Chicago that winter. Ginger Clark in 1902 is the only other player win pick up a win in his only appearance.

Seven players have been charged with the loss in their only game with the Indians. The most recent of that group was Johnny Vander Meer (famous for being the only pitcher in history to throw back-to-back no-hitters). He spent almost his entire career with Cincinnati, but came to the Indians in 1951. He gave up 6 runs in 3 innings in what would be the final game of his MLB career.

Other lowlights include Bock Baker, who gave up 13 runs on 23 hits back in 1901, presumably before dying on the mound. Doc Hamann gave up "only" 6 runs in his only game, back in 1922, but he didn't retire a single hitter, giving him a beautiful ERA of infinity.

Herbert Hill in 1915 is the only player to throw more than one shutout inning in his only game with the team (he threw two). Meanwhile, he doesn't qualify as one of these 74 players, but there is one man who delivered three shutout innings in his only game as a pitcher for the Indians: Rocky Colavito. Rock accomplished it on August 13, 1958, during the second game of a doubleheader. Among the nine outs he recorded, he got future Hall of Famer Al Kaline on a ground ball back to the mound.

A total of 42 players got at least one plate appearance in their only game with the Indians. 15 of those players collected at least one hit, with Kottaras becoming the fourth one of them to collect multiple hits. He, Ginger Clark, and Russ Hall each had two hits, while Frank Cross is the only man in franchise history to collect three of them. Cross, Clark, and Hall each appeared in 1901 or 1902, which means Kottaras is (for now at least) the only man in the last 112 years with more than one hit in his only game with the team.

Germany Schaefer is the only player in team history to steal a base in his only game with the team. That was way back in 1918, and Schaefer was 42 years old at the time. Just over a year later, Schaefer was dead by tuberculosis.

Kottaras is the only player with two home runs in his only game. Jamie Quirk in 1984 is the only other player to hit even one home run in his only game with the Indians. He'd been acquired during the final week of the season, even though the Tribe had already clinched a losing season. The September 27 game against Minnesota was tied 3-3 heading into the 9th, when Quirk was put in as a defensive replacement at catcher. With two outs in the bottom half of the inning, he put one into the seats to win the game. Quirk never played for the Indians again, leaving him with a literally perfect batting line of 1.000/1.000/4.000.

Frank Cross, Ross Clark, Ginger Clark, Herbert Hill, Germany Schaefer, Jake Striker, and Jamie Quirk... those are your all-time one-game wonders for the Indians. If Kottaras can avoid ever playing for the Tribe again, he'll join them, with a case as the greatest wonder of them all.

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