The designated hitter is likely coming to the National League soon, so we won’t be treated to incredible moments like the one involving San Diego Padres relief pitcher Daniel Camarena.
Camarena had come to the plate just 31 times in his eight seasons as a pro (minors or majors) before Thursday. He had five hits, all singles, so what he did Thursday night can only be described as extraordinary.
After being recalled from Triple-A earlier in the day, Camarena came on in relief in the fourth inning and found himself batting with the Padres trailing the Nationals 8-2. It was a big situation with the bases loaded and two outs.
Oh, and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was pitching.
So, yeah, what happened next was remarkable:
“I still don’t have a word for it,” Camarena told MLB.com. “I’m still trying to find a word for my debut, and then this took it to a whole other level. In that AB, just trying to put the ball in play in that situation. Especially against Max, that’s hard to do. I was just trying with everything that I had just to put a ball in play.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune noted Camarena‘s brother Louie was at the game with their mother, Consuelo, and other family and friends. His father died in 2019, the paper noted.
“It’s powerful,” Louie Camarena told the Union-Tribune. “… Here we are at home, not too far from where Dad is. … This is the stuff that Dad and all of us dreamt of and talked about, so to do it here, it’s just truly remarkable. It’s a testament to his grind. Perseverance, all the hard work. We’ve never lost faith. … Our tribe never lost doubt. We always believed. In some ways, we believe we’re where we’re supposed to be, quite frankly. It feels just right.”
Cameras caught the reaction of Camarena’s family:
And here is the video that Louie Camarena shot:
Camarena’s feat was so rare it was never done in the 20th century. That’s according to Stats by Stats, which noted the last time a pitcher had a grand slam for his first hit in the majors.