Rosario’s first career HR makes Twins teammates reminisce

Minnesota's Brian Dozier hits his first major-league home run against Toronto at Target Field on May 13, 2012. Dozier is one of many Twins players who have vivid memories of their first career major-league homer.  

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MINNEAPOLIS — Every baseball player’s first career home run is a memorable moment, although some are more memorable than others. Eddie Rosario’s came in his major-league debut Wednesday, and it happened to come on the first pitch he saw.

Rosario became the first player in Twins history to homer on his first career pitch and is just the 29th player in Major League Baseball history to do so. While Rosario’s moment might be the most notable first home run in the Twins’ clubhouse, there are plenty of other good stories.

Minnesota outfielder Jordan Schafer joined Rosario in a rather elite club as players to hit homers in their first major league at-bat. Schafer’s didn’t come on the first pitch — it was a 3-1 count — but it was the first swing he ever took.

Schafer, then with Atlanta, homered off Philadelphia’s Brett Myers in the top of the second inning on April 5, 2009. One swing into his big-league career, Schafer had his first home run.

"It’s a special moment," Schafer said. "My family and everything was there. I got to share it with them. It’s something that you’ll never forget, the moment or the time. It’s an amazing feeling at the time."

Schafer is one of 115 players in MLB history to homer in their first career at-bat, according to baseball-almanac.com. Since Schafer accomplished the feat in 2009, nine other National League players have done so. That includes Twins pitcher Tommy Milone, who is currently with Triple-A Rochester. Milone homered not only in his first at-bat, but like Rosario he hit the first pitch he saw over the fence. That came when Milone was with the Washington Nationals. He took Mets pitcher Dillon Gee deep on Sept. 3, 2011.

Those types of feats are rare, but Twins fans got to witness such an event Wednesday night at Target Field. Minnesota’s clubhouse has other memorable stories of first home runs. Among them is Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, whose three-year anniversary of his call-up to the majors happens to be Thursday.

Not long after his Twins debut — just six days — Dozier hit the first home run of his big-league career. Making the moment special was that it also happened to be Mother’s Day on May 13, 2012. Dozier hit the home run while wearing pink cleats to both celebrate the holiday and honor his grandmother, who had died a few years earlier from breast cancer.

Dozier’s first big-league homer came at Target Field against Toronto’s Ricky Romero. Though Dozier’s home run landed in the second deck, he was fortunate enough to get it back and give it to his mom.

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"I usually send my mom flowers or a massage or something," said Dozier, who called the florist in his mom’s town in Mississippi earlier that day but couldn’t get through as it was closed on Sunday. "So I said, ‘You can have the ball instead.’ . . . It was pretty special."

Joe Mauer’s first home run wasn’t quite as monumental as Rosario’s, Schafer’s or Dozier’s, but he still has fond memories of it more than a decade later. Mauer debuted in the majors on April 5, 2004, but suffered a knee injury just two games into the season. He returned on June 2 and hit his first career home run four days later.

Mauer tagged Detroit’s Esteban Yan for a three-run shot in the eighth inning at the Metrodome to break a 3-all tie and give the Twins a 6-3 lead. So, while it didn’t happen to fall on a notable day or come in his first career at-bat, it was still a big spot for Mauer.

"It was awesome. It’s something you’ll never forget," Mauer said. "I can’t imagine what Eddie was going through last night, the first pitch he sees to take it deep."

Like Rosario on Wednesday, Mauer was able to get the ball back from his first home run. Mauer’s three-run blast hit off the football press box in right-center field at the Metrodome and bounced back onto the field, making the retrieval of the milestone an easy task.

Ironically enough, Mauer stumbled upon that baseball Thursday morning, one day after Rosario’s first homer. Mauer keeps the baseball in a dresser drawer as a reminder of just how special his first home run was.

"Those things like that, when I’m done playing, I’ll probably put those up somewhere in the house, Mauer said. "Little things like that are kind of cool that you acquire over the years. Hopefully I’ll be able to display them a little later."

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