Detroit Tigers History

Spencer Torkelson and the Worst Debuts in Detroit Tigers History

Mar 17, 2021 - Spencer Torkelson hits a foul ball. Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2021 - Spencer Torkelson hits a foul ball. Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /
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Worst Detroit Tigers Debut Number 5 – Fred Hutchinson

Detroit Tigers
CINCINNATI – Manager Fred Hutchinson looks on during the 1961 World Series. (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images) /

Usually a top prospect making his MLB debut is the biggest story in any given game, but Fred Hutchinson was deprived of the headlines in May of 1939. That’s because he debuted against a New York Yankees team playing without Lou Gehrig for the first time in 2,130 games. This only seemed to empower the Bronx Bombers, who were also without their center fielder Joe DiMaggio. They built a 12-0 lead before the 19-year-old Hutchinson debuted with two outs in the 6th.

A passed ball by catcher Birdie Tebbetts made it 13-0, but Hutchinson finished the inning with a walk and a ground out. Hutchinson came back out for the 7th and the Yankees took him behind the woodshed. His inning went: walk, double, walk, single, home run, walk, walk, fly out, single. His final line was 0.2 IP, 108.00 ERA, 4H, 8ER, 5BB. Hutchinson did go on to have a fine career as both a player and manager, at one point giving up the longest home run in Fenway Park history, and making the 1951 All-Star team, but his debut was one to forget.

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