This past September 26, when Dee Gordon came to the plate as the first Marlins hitter to bat after the passing on September 25 of the team’s young star Jose Fernandez, Gordon, who bats as a left-handed batter, took the first pitch as a right-handed batter. That was done in honor of Fernandez, a righty pitcher and batter. After that first pitch from Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon, Gordon turned around and hit from his usual side, as a left-handed batter. From his normal side, Gordon promptly hit a home run off of Colon, to give Florida a lead, and the Marlins went on to win a game that was deeply haunted by the death of Fernandez the previous morning.
By a strange coincidence, Gordon’s homer as a lefty batter, coming after his first-pitch appearance from the other side of the plate, caused an all-time MLB record, specific to lefty hitters, to be tied (the record was then subsequently broken a few days later).
Here are the pitchers who have allowed, over a career, the most home runs to batters hitting from the lefty side of the plate (including both regular and post-season home runs allowed):
1. Bartolo Colon 231
2. Robin Roberts 230
3. Catfish Hunter 224
4. Jack Morris 214
5. Ferguson Jenkins 213 (or 214)
6. Bert Blyleven 206
T7. Phil Niekro and Don Sutton 203
9. Javier Vazquez 202
10. Dennis Eckersley 198
Bartolo, who himself hit a memorable home run this season (albeit as a right-handed batter), tied the all-time career HRs-allowed-to-lefties record, previously held by Robin Roberts, when he allowed the Dee Gordon homer on September 26. Colon then broke the record when he allowed another memorable homer on October 1, to Ryan Howard. It was Howard’s final HR for the Phillies, and perhaps of his career (I’m not sure Ryan Howard will find another MLB spot next season — he’s been a rather consistently sub-replacement level performer since he badly injured his Achilles tendon making the final out of Philadelphia’s 2011 post-season; the Phillies have not been back to the post-season since that play). That final homer for Howard, the record-breaker for Colon, came as the Mets sought to clinch a post-season berth on the second-to-last day of the season. Howard’s blast off Colon tied the game, and put the Mets’ post-season hopes in jeopardy, but another left-handed hitting first baseman, James Loney — owner of one of the lowest HR per PA ratios of any recent long-term first basemen — hit a homer of his own to restore the Mets lead, allowing Colon, the new all-time leader in homers allowed to lefties, to get the win and the Mets to grab a wild card spot. The Mets then went on to lose the wild card game — on a ninth-inning homer by unheralded lefty batter Conor Gillaspie.