November 1, 1950: Clint Compton
In front of barely 2,000 fans at Wrigley Field on October 3, 1972, lefty Clint Compton came on in relief for the Cubs against the 58-97 Philadelphia Phillies. It had been a long journey to get that opportunity. Compton was born on this date, November 1, 69 years ago.
He was initially drafted in the third round of the 1968 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Atlanta Braves, but was traded to the California Angels in a deal that brought future Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm to Atlanta. Then, in 1971, the Cubs selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, stealing him away from the Angels. Compton was optioned to Double-A for the 1972 season where he went 9-5 with a 4.75 ERA and a gnarly 1:1 K:BB ratio.
Apparently, that was good enough for the Cubs and he was called up at the end of the season. With his team trailing 8-0 and with nothing to lose, Compton entered the October 3 game against the Phillies in the top of the sixth. He began marvelously, getting John Bateman and Steve Carlton each to ground out to first base. Terry Harmon wrapped up the 1-2-3 inning by flying out to right.
After his clean frame, Compton came back out for the seventh inning, which didn't go quite as smoothly with the top of the order due up. Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt each clubbed singles to open the inning and Greg Luzinski walked to load the bases. Pinch hitter Joe Lis drew another walk, which allowed Bowa to score, pushing the Philly lead to 9-0. Roger Freed followed by mercifully grounding into a double play, though another run scored to put the Phillies in double digits. Bill Robinson ended the frame by flying out to third base.
In the bottom of the inning, Compton was due up, but Paul Popovich pinch hit for him, keeping him from ever getting to step to the plate in a major league game. All told, he had pitched two innings and allowed two earned runs. A small sample size to be sure, but he walked off the mound with what would turn out to be a career ERA of 9.00. He was only 21 at the time of his debut, but that was all the big-league action he'd ever get.
The next season, when he was 22, he majorly struggled and was out of the game by 1974. Curiously, he never posted an ERA south of 4.75 in his professional seasons outside of Rookie Ball, so perhaps he was fortunate to ever have gotten into an MLB game in the first place. On the other hand, we can be sure that he, like any of us would have, felt as though he could've broken through if only given more of a chance.