Thigpen's first career tater almost wasn't
Confusion leads to comedy after young catcher's blast
BALTIMORE -- Curtis Thigpen didn't think it counted. Neither did any of his Blue Jays teammates.
So, after more than a handful of Toronto's players offered the young catcher hugs of sympathy, Thigpen hurled his first career home run ball across the visitors' clubhouse at Camden Yards on Friday night.
Turns out, the rain delay that forced an early end to the Jays' 3-0 win over the Orioles didn't wipe Thigpen's blast from the record books after all.
"We almost had a funeral in here," said Thigpen, able to laugh after the episode. "When everybody started coming over and giving me hugs and started feeling sorry for me, I took the ball and threw it across the locker room.
"But, oh well. I guess it stands now. I guess there was a rule we didn't know about."
It was a rule that none of the Blue Jays, including manager Cito Gaston, seemed to know.
Prior to the 2007 season, Major League Baseball implemented a new set of rules for rain delays and suspended games. Thigpen slammed the first pitch he saw from Baltimore lefty Chris Waters over the left-field wall to open the seventh inning -- not long before a steady rain brought an abrupt halt to the game.
The Blue Jays scored twice in the seventh, but the Orioles didn't receive a final at-bat in the frame. That led the players to believe that the only statistics that would count were those included within the first six innings, after which Toronto held a 1-0 lead. Gaston was even debating the issue with Jays bench coach Brian Butterfield in the dugout.
"Butter and I were talking about it and we were going back and forth on it," Gaston said. "I said, 'I know the rules changed, but I'm not sure.' I said, 'You know what? I think I better get my rule book out this winter and check it out.'"
Gaston shouldn't have to now.
The 25-year-old Thigpen -- seldom used in his two brief tours with Toronto over the past two seasons -- now has a home run on his big league resume. When he learned that the shot was official, Thigpen threw both arms in the air and smiled wide.
"It counted!" he shouted to his teammates.
Not that Thigpen wouldn't have completely minded the other scenario.
"I wasn't disappointed," Thigpen said. "I looked at it as being pretty unique. Thousands of guys have hit their first home runs, but how many guys have hit a home run that actually didn't count for their first one?
"They talk about baseball being a roller coaster of emotion throughout a season, but I guess the last hour has been a roller coaster mentally. Hitting it, then not having it, then I find out it counts."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.