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August 30, 2014

Mark Edwards' In My Opinion: Ex-Ranburne star joins exclusive club in big league debut

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Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:09 pm | Updated: 12:12 pm, Tue May 20, 2014.

Congrats to Ranburne’s Chase Whitley for making a successful major league debut Thursday for the New York Yankees.

He threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, two walks and no runs against the Mets.

It isn’t an easy thing to make the major leagues. He is one of only 315 Alabama-born players to appear in at least one major league game, according to figure provided by probaseballreference.com. The list includes Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Satchel Paige and now … Chase Whitley, a 2010 15th-round draft choice out of Troy University.

For now, Whitley is one of 12 Alabama-born players to appear in only one game. The list includes Clint Compton, who threw two innings in a Cubs game in 1972. Ernie Cox pitched an inning for the White Sox in 1922, and Buddy Hancken caught in one game for the old Philadelphia A's in 1940 but didn't get an at-bat. Tommy Sewell, brother of Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, got one at-bat for the Cubs in 1927, and that was it.

However, Whitley seems to have earned a chance to stay on the Yankees’ roster and pitched again — if not because of his sterling performance but because three of the team’s original starting rotation is on the disabled list.

Another item of note for Whitley on Thursday — he got a hit in his first at-bat. Of the 315 major leaguers born in our state, only 259 got at least one hit. Most of the remaining 56 were pitchers.

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