March 6th, 1977
Marcus Thames Born
Marcus Thames (pronounced "timms," rhymes with "whims," rather than like the river in London)--was an outfielder drafted by the Yankees in 1996. He spent several seasons in the Yankee system and finally made his Major League debut in 2002 at age twenty-six for them, playing in a handful of games that season. The next year he was traded to Texas for Ruben Sierra and moved on to Detroit in 2004, where he is currently competing for a fourth outfielder job.
Thames' otherwise unremarkable career is noteworthy for his first at-bat on June 10th, 2002. Only playing in the game because a more touted prospect, Juan Rivera, had fractured his kneecap in a collision with a maintenance cart, Thames came to the plate for the first time in a Major League game against Randy Johnson at Yankee Stadium. Johnson's first pitch was a hard fastball at the level of Thames' neck. The rookie, who had been planning to be aggressive against the big lefty, decided that this was his kind of pitch, and swung the bat, his first Major League swing. Thames connected and the ball began to carry, and carry, and carry all the way to the Yankee bullpen in left-center field. Thames had hit a home run off Randy Johnson (no small feat) and done so in his first at-bat, only the second Yankee in history to accomplish that.
There is very little of note about Marcus Thames career, and having never earned a full-time job at age twenty-eight, there probably never will be. But he will always have June 10th, 2002 and a neck-high fastball from Randy Johnson.