We usually associate “one-hit wonders” with music—bands like Dexy’s Midnight Runners who had one smash hit single and then faded into obscurity. A similar thing can happen in sports—in which a player has just one big moment of glory.
23-year-old Brian Doyle was playing in his big league season in 1978 with the New York Yankees. During the regular season, he played in around 40 games with a paltry .192 average with no runs batted in. But at the end of the season, Yankees star second baseman Willie Randolph went on the injured list, so Doyle was left on the postseason roster. He rose to the occasion and played in all six games of the World Series. He got a hit in seven of his 16 at-bats, leading the Yankees to a World Series title. Doyle was out of the major leagues by 1981.
After a nondescript rookie season for the Boston Braves in 1913, pitcher Bill James broke out big in 1914, amassing a 26-7 record with 156 strikeouts. With James as their ace, the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. In that final round, James won both games he started, and overall allowed just two hits and no runs. The next season, however, arm injuries began to plague him and he was in an out of minors for the next four years, winning only five more big-league starts.
Caesar Guiterrez literally put on a record-breaking performance on June 21, 1970. In the middle of his second season as a shortstop with the Cleveland Indians, he played in a 12-inning game and took seven at-bats…and got a hit every single time, a record that still stands. (Of those hits, six were singles, and one was a double.) Before the game, his batting average was .226; after it was .255. And yet, he was out of baseball by 1971.
Only man can claim a “perfect” Major League career. Chuck Lindstrom’s debut with the White Sox came in the fifth inning of a game against the Kansas City Athletics in late September 1958, as a replacement catcher. In his first at-bat in the sixth inning, he walked, then scored when a teammate hit a double. An inning later, he hit a triple, and drove in a run. The Chicago White Sox won the game 11 to 4. It was the last game of the season, and Lindstrom was sent back down to the minors, never to get called up again. However, that one game gave Lindstrom a perfect 1.000 batting average, a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage, and a 3.000 slugging percentage. Perfect!