When a player is first called up to majors, he faces a lot of pressure to have an impressive debut performance. For a hitter, this means he wants to help his team at the plate. The best way to do so in a single at-bat is to drive in four runs with a grand slam. The conditions need to be perfect for a player to hit a grand slam. It’s unlikely that a player will have the chance in his first at-bat. However, two MLB players have done just that.
Grand slams are rare
It is rare for a player to hit a grand slam. He has to come up to the plate with the bases loaded, which often puts more pressure on the hitter to get a hit. He then needs the pitcher to give him a pitch he can hit, likely even making a mistake, that allows the hitter to launch the ball out of the park.
It is so rare in fact that no player in MLB history has ever hit more than 25 grand slams in his career. Alex Rodriguez holds that record. His 25 bases-loaded homers represent just 3.6% of his 696 career home runs.
Given the rarity of a grand slam, the chances of a player hitting a grand slam on the first pitch of his first career at-bat are very low — but it has happened twice, both times coming in the last 15 years. And the players who did it aren’t exactly household names.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cleveland Indians
The first player to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues was Kevin Kouzmanoff, details Baseball-Reference. He made his debut for the Indians at the Rangers on Sept. 2, 2006. He was facing Edinson Volquez in the top of the first inning with two outs and a 1-0 lead.
Volquez grooved one over the plate, which Kouzmanoff sent flying over the center field fence for a grand slam in his first at-bat. He competed in 16 games for the Indians that month before being traded to the Padres in the offseason. After playing three seasons in San Diego, he was traded to the A’s before the 2010 season.
Then Kouzmanoff moved to the Rockies during the 2011 season. He didn’t play in 2012 or 2013 and ended his career for the Rangers, bringing his career full circle, playing 13 games for Texas in 2014. Over seven seasons, Kouzmanoff had a .257 average with 87 home runs and 371 RBI. He would go on to hit two more grand slams, giving him three for his career.
Daniel Nava, Boston Red Sox
Four seasons later, the feat would happen again when Daniel Nava debuted with the Red Sox on June 12, 2010. The Sox were trailing the Phillies 2-1 at home in the bottom of the second inning. Boston had loaded the bases with nobody out, and Nava dug into the batter’s box as the No. 9 hitter in the lineup.
Joe Blanton was on the mound, and Nava got the Boston fans on their feet knocking his first career pitch into the Red Sox bullpen. Like Kouzmanoff, Nava played seven seasons in the majors and ended his career with the team he faced in his debut, playing 80 games for the Phillies in 2017.
Nava was a .266 hitter for his career, launching just 29 home runs and 206 RBI. He would go on to hit one more grand slam before he retired from the majors.