Bryce Harper's tie to Hank Aaron (and Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson)

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When Bryce Harper hammered his first major-league home run Monday night against the Padres, Jayson Werth – out of the lineup with a broken wrist – was on the Nats bench to see it. In fact, it was Werth who encouraged Harper to step out of the dugout and take a bow. (The kid didn’t want to be presumptuous.)

Why do I bring this up? Because Werth’s grandad, Ducky Schofield, was at the scene of a couple of famous baseball firsts himself. He pinch hit for the opposing team (the Cardinals) the day Hank Aaron blasted the first of his record 755 home runs in 1954, and he played shortstop for the opposing club (the Pirates) the day Pete Rose got the first of his record 4,256 hits in 1963.

I’m not suggesting Bryce is going to hit 756 homers or get 4,257 hits, but it’s quite the coincidence, you have to admit.

Here, in case you’re curious, is the box score of the Aaron game. Hank’s dinger (for the Milwaukee Braves) came off the Cardinals’ Vic Raschi, who was near the end of his career after having some terrific years for the Yankees, including three straight 21-win seasons. It’s doubtful Tim Stauffer, Harper’s victim, will finish with 132-66 record like Raschi did. I mean, at this point – just shy of his 30th birthday – he’s a mere 23-31.

Here, also, is the box of the Rose game. Schofield, you’ll note, had a nice day, going 3-for-6 with a double and two RBI in the Pirates’ 12-4 win over Pete’s Reds. At any rate, Ducky sure witnessed a lot of history. (Especially when you consider he also met Bill Mazeroski at the plate in 1960 after Maz homered to beat the Yankees in the World Series.)

Anyway, Werth was kind of continuing the family tradition by being present for Harper’s first blast. I say “kind of,” of course, because we’ll have to see how high Harper pushes his home run total – and how notable an occasion HR No. 1 turns out to be. Still, it’s pretty cool.

One more thing: When Rickey Henderson stole the first of his record 1,406 stolen bases (June 24, 1979 vs. Texas), guess who one of his Oakland teammates was? Steve McCatty, the current Nats pitching coach. McCatty was just an observer that day, though. He started two games later against the Royals (going eight innings and not being involved in the decision). So there’s another connection the Nats have to a Famous First.

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About the Author
Dan Daly

Dan Daly

Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of "The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at ddaly@washingtontimes.com.

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