Byron Buxton, weather willing, will make his Twins home debut Wednesday in what has to be considered one of the most anticipated games in recent franchise history.
It also sparked a question: Not that Buxton is necessarily destined for greatness, but how did some of the Twins’ all-time great hitters fare in their first full home games?
Let’s take a look in chronological order (note: this list only includes players who made their debuts while with the Twins, not the Senators, hence the lack of Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison and others).
Tony Oliva: Sept. 14, 1962: Oliva made his home debut in style, batting third and playing right field. He ended the game 2-for-3 with three runs batted in and two runs scored. He walked in his first plate appearance, scoring later in the inning, and hit a two-run double in the second in his first official at-bat, helping the Twins win in a rout.
Rod Carew: April 14, 1967. Batting fifth and playing second base, Carew had an RBI single in the first inning in his first-ever home at-bat. It turned out to be his only hit in a 1-for-4 effort, but it helped the Twins to a 5-3 win over Detroit.
Kent Hrbek: Sept. 8, 1981. Hrbek played parts of three home games before getting his first full home contest on that date. He batted fifth and was the DH, going 0-for-3 and striking out in his first at-bat. His overall debut — on the road at Yankee Stadium that year on Aug. 24 — was far more memorable, of course. He cracked the game-winning home run in the top of the 12th in a 3-2 victory.
Kirby Puckett: May 15, 1984. After collecting 12 hits in his first five career starts — all on the road — Puckett kept right on rolling with a 2-for-5 game in his home debut. He batted leadoff and played center field, getting a single in his first career home at bat. Also, an oddity: Dave Stieb of Toronto, who was pitching for Toronto in Hrbek’s first full home game with the Twins, was also the starter for Puckett’s first home game. Also of note: Puckett started his career 36 for his first 93 (.387 average), though all but two hits were singles.
Chuck Knoblauch: April 12, 1991. Batting second (behind Dan Gladden) and playing second base, Knoblauch went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored twice in his home debut, a 6-0 win over the Angels. He walked in his first career plate appearance, scoring on a Chili Davis single and also scored in the fifth after singling to start the inning.
Justin Morneau: June 10, 2003. Morneau batted cleanup as the DH in his home debut against Colorado, as clear a sign as could be given that he was in Minnesota to boost the offense. He did his part, going 2-for-4 — including a single in his first-ever home at-bat — but the Twins lost 5-0 to Colorado.
Joe Mauer: April 5, 2004: Almost certainly the most anticipated home debut in Twins history given his local status and the fact that he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, Mauer did not disappoint. He went 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored, batting eighth and playing the entire 11-inning 7-4 win over Cleveland at catcher. Mauer walked in his first plate appearance in the third inning, got his first career hit in the ninth and singled again as part of an 11th inning rally, scoring on Shannon Stewart’s walkoff home run. Of note: Mauer was injured in the very next game, hurting his knee chasing a foul ball. He was limited to just 122 plate appearances that season.