Detroit Tigers rookie Akil Baddoo had a powerful start to his major league baseball career, hitting a home run on the first pitch of his first at-bat on Sunday.
The 22-year-old’s parents, John and Akilah, were in the stands and jumped for joy as their son made his way around the bases after taking a swing at the ball thrown by Cleveland Indians pitcher Aaron Civale.
“I was just so happy that I was able to put a good swing on the ball and hit a home run,” Baddoo told MLB.com when asked about the hit.
The crowd at Comerica Park gave Baddoo a hearty round of applause, but few matched the excitement of his parents, who slapped hands, screamed and hugged while the rookie came to home base.
A video from the swing shows Baddoo pointing to the crowd toward his parents after reaching homebase and walking toward the dugout.
According to MLB.com, alongside Baddoo’s parents were his two younger brothers, all of whom came in from Georgia after Detroit Tigers’ manager A.J. Hinch said he would be playing on Sunday. John said the family barely had time to sit down before their son blasted a home run.
“I grabbed Akilah’s hand so we could throw him some real good energy, and then before we could blink an eye, there it was. He didn’t even give us a chance to be nervous over here,” John said.
Associated Press correspondent for baseball, Alex Fast, shared a video of Baddoo’s parents reacting excitedly to his first home run.
Even the pitcher who threw the ball, Civale, was happy for Baddoo.
“Not a terrible pitch, but maybe not as aggressive as I could’ve been with that pitch. The swing was definitely aggressive. I think his family was there, so that’s a pretty cool moment. I remember my debut like it was yesterday. I’m sure he’ll remember that for the rest of his life,” Civale, who ended up shutting out the rest of the Tigers’ roster for the rest of the day, said.
The Tigers ended up losing the game in a 9-3 loss, but Baddoo spoke to the Associated Press after the game.
“Got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to hit it in front of my family and everyone. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win, but looking forward to tomorrow,” Baddoo said.
The Tigers made Baddoo the third pick overall of the 2020 winter meeting draft of unprotected players. The 22-year-old had never been in any league above Class A before taking the field on Sunday.
He wasn’t able to play minor league baseball in 2020 because it was canceled due to the pandemic. He also had to sit out much of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, according to MLB.com.
“I’m just living in the moment. I got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to hit it in front of my family and everyone,” Baddoo said.
The hit puts Baddoo in rarified air in MLB history. He’s the ninth person in Detroit Tigers’ team history to hit a homer in his first major league at-bat and only the second to ever do it on his first pitch. George Vico was the first in franchise history when he hit his first home run on April 20, 1948.
“You only have one first game in your career. These are going to get very routine for him when he starts playing more, and the newness of being a big leaguer is going to wear off a little bit, but that emotion that he felt is going to last him a lifetime,” Hinch said.
There is a short list of players to hit a home run on the first pitch of their first at-bat, the first being Cubs catcher Willson Conteras in 2016.