With the American League pennant already in the bag, the Yankees went into the final game of the regular season against the Indians on October 4, 1964 with not much to play for. For that last game, they basically emptied the bench. Phil Linz and Hector Lopez were the only people who played in over 100 games to start. Game Three World Series starting pitcher Jim Bouton was given the ball, but other than those three and a couple others, it was a bunch of randoms and September call ups.
One of those player was a 24-year old making his major league debut.
Elvio Jimenez had been signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent back in 1959. He spent the next couple years working his way through the system before putting up really solid numbers in Double-A and Triple-A in 1963. The next year, he recorded 169 hits in Triple-A and soon found himself in the majors for the end of the season.
Jimenez was slotted in the number-three spot for his major-league debut against Cleveland. As mentioned, these weren’t loaded lineups, but hitting third in your first game is nothing to sneeze at.
He and the Yankees were facing off against a rookie Luis Tiant, who was getting the start for Cleveland. Tiant got the better of Jimenez in his debut at-bat, forcing him to ground out to end the bottom of the first.
After making another out in between, Jimenez came to bat again in the sixth. With one out and no one on with the score 1-1, he singled to second for his first career hit. The Yankees failed to bring him home, but two innings later he came back to the plate. By this point, Cleveland had brought in another notable young pitcher, Tommy John. Jimenez again singled to center, and now he had a two-hit game in his major league debut.
The Yankees again didn’t plate him, and the game remained tied. It would go into extra innings, where the Indians would eventually take a lead in the 13th. By this point, the Yankees had gone to their bench and brought in some of their more notable names. Due up in the 13th would be Elston Howard, Bobby Richardson, and Joe Pepitone. The first two made outs, but Pepitone kept the game alive with a single.
That meant that Jimenez had the chance to be the hero. However, he wouldn’t come up with the big hit. He grounded out as the Yankees lost 2-1. Even still, most players would love to record two hits in their first major league game.
Not surprisingly, with only one game under his belt, Jimenez wouldn’t play in the postseason, and the Yankees lost to the Cardinals in the World Series.
The next season, he started the year back in the minors. His numbers took a bit of a dip from the previous season, and Jimenez wouldn’t be recalled in 1965. He regressed further the following season, and even spent a decent chunk of the season back down in Double-A. He would leave the Yankees organization after 1966. He spent five further seasons in the minors playing in either the Pirates, Reds, or Senators’ organizations. However, Jimenez would never play another game in the major leagues.
Elvio Jimenez is one of just 22 batters to ever have a multi-hit performance in their only major league game. At least he’s not Ray Jensen, who went 4-5 and never got a second game.
All historical stats and box scores courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index