On September 5, 1971 — In his major league debut, J.R. Richard throws a complete game in the Astros’ 5-3 victory over San Francisco at Candlestick Park. The 21 year-old right-handed fireballer strikes out a major-league rookie record 15 batters in his first major league appearance.

The performance ties Richard with Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Karl Spooner, for the most strikeouts in a MLB debut. Spooner also faced the Giants in his debut in 1954.

Interestingly enough, Willie Mays plays in both games. He doesn’t strike out against Spooner, but Richard gets him three times.

 


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Sources:
Baseball Reference September 5
National Pastime
Retro Sheet
Hall of Fame
SABR Games Project
Replay The Game