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September 30, 1910: Ray Jansen




On this date, 109 years ago, Ray Jansen had one of the best "cup of coffee" games at the plate ever. Yet another local St. Louis kid who made his one-and-only big-league appearance with the hometown St. Louis Browns, Jansen had to have wondered why he never got another shot.


Jansen made his debut at 21 years old against the Chicago White Sox and burst onto the scene, going 4-for-5 while manning third base. St. Louis lost the game 9-1, but Jansen put forth one of the most memorable one-game performances to that point in big-league history, running his career batting average to .800. His career OPS sits at a sterling 1.600, good enough for 32nd-best among "cup of coffee" players.


Just 1,000 fans saw his performance at Sportsman's Park as the lovable loser Brownies fell to 45-103. Jansen had made such an impression, you'd guess he got another chance and he did in the minor leagues, but apparently never impressed anyone who mattered enough to get a second shot.


It didn't help that he made three errors at third base in his only MLB game. He played in the minors until 1918 (taking 1912 and 1915 off) and only hit around .250 in A-Ball. His two best seasons in which he hit .294 and .289 respectively came in C-Ball and D-Ball in 1914 and 1916.


He was rumored to be challenging for a starting job with the Pirates in 1912, but nothing ever materialized. That seemed to be his last great chance at cracking a big-league starting lineup. Still, he carved out a seven-season professional baseball career in a time it wasn't so easy to do such a thing. His goodbye to the game came in 1918, where he played 67 games for the Birmingham Barons, the same team Michael Jordan would play with nearly 80 years later.


After 2,257 professional plate appearances, he was out of organized baseball. The scrappy infielder died in 1934 at the age of 45.

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