"Biggest day of my life," Zito recalled of his victorious debut with the A's on July 21, 2000. "How could it not be?"
Sunday was Tim Lincecum's first time. The Giants' whiz-kid pitcher made his major-league debut against the Philadelphia Phillies, and though it didn't go as well as Zito's, this surely was the first of many starts by that lively arm.
A forgettable outing? Perhaps, but here are some firsts to remember:
First vote of confidence: "He's going to be fine. His stuff is electric, and he made a couple mistakes. But he showed what a great arm he has. He did a pretty good job." -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
First impression: Nice poise by the youngster. Oops, that actually was a Junior Giant named Jake Mitchell throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Real first impression: Lincecum's 100 mph fastball comes as advertised. And it kept coming and coming. Unfortunately for him, one fastball and one curveball kept going and going over the fence for two Phillies' home runs.
First big-league memory: "I'll remember how far those balls went." -- Lincecum, to reporters after the game.
First official line: Five hits, five runs (four earned), five walks, five strikeouts before leaving with one out in the fifth inning. Yep, lots of fives, but no high-fives.
First thought when seeing Lincecum's baby face: Finally, someone who looks younger than Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.
First bullpen pitch: A fastball that zooms high, while his oversized pants hang low over his ankles. Are those Barry Bonds' hand-me-downs?
First official pitch: At 5:10 p.m., he unleashes a 97 mph fastball on the outside corner for a called strike to Jimmy Rollins. The announced temperature was 83 degrees, though catcher Bengie Molina's mitt was a crispy 375 degrees after that Lincecum heater.
First hit: At 5:11 p.m., Rollins sends a one-hop chopper over Lincecum's head and into center field for a single. Oh well, maybe he'll post a no-hitter in his second start, just like Wilson Alvarez did in 1991 for the Chicago White Sox.
First home run: At 5:12 p.m., Shane Victorino blasts a two-run shot onto the arcade's walkway, his ninth career home run and first in 111 at-bats this season.
First stat check: It takes only two batters before Lincecum allows more runs than he did in 31 innings at Triple-A Fresno, where he surrendered one run, allowed 12 hits and struck out 46 while buckin' for this promotion.
First inning: 29 pitches. He made only 71 more before the curtain closes (as expected on Bochy's 100-pitch cue).
First jinx: "Please get through the first inning." -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean, when asked before the game about his hopes for Lincecum's debut.
First at-bat: He struck out swinging on Cole Hamels' third offering, so no homer like Will Clark in 1986 off Nolan Ryan. Clark also arrived with hype as he, too, debuted a year after being drafted in the first round.
First time "Tim Lincecum" is mispronounced as "Todd Linden": It didn't happen, but give it time. Lincecum can thank Linden (game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the fifth) for erasing a potential losing decision.
First Bonds sighting: Bonds sauntered into the Giants clubhouse an hour before game time. It was an off-day for him, and it was apparent Lincecum could have used his bat (or guaranteed walks).
First comparison to Zito: He, too, fails to get enough run support.
First visit to the mound by pitching coach Dave Righetti: Third inning, after Lincecum, (1.), allowed Ryan Howard's mammoth homer to straight-away center, (2.), walked Pat Burrell and, (3), fell behind 2-0 to Aaron Rowand. Lincecum responded by retiring Rowand on a ground out.
First anniversary: Last year on May 6, Lincecum watched the University of Washington lose 5-3 in front of Oregon's sold-out crowd of 2,327 (or 36,411 fewer than Sunday's AT&T Park crowd). A day earlier, Lincecum struck out 16 in eight innings and became the Pac-10's career strikeouts leader.
First time Sabean took notice of him: "Sophomore year. He was so high profile his junior year (in 2006)." Surprised that Lincecum lasted to the 10th overall draft pick, "he was our overwhelming choice," Sabean said.
First hint whether Lincecum will stay in the big leagues: "We're going to have to wait and see. You'd like to think he's up here for good." -- Sabean, during batting practice.
(Second hint Lincecum is staying: "The kid has a chance to be real special. That's why he's here. He'll pitch well here." -- Bochy, postgame.)
First exit: After walking Burrell to load the bases in the fifth, Lincecum left to a standing ovation as Bochy replaced him with Vinnie Chulk, a 12th-round draft pick in 2001 by Toronto. Lincecum didn't acknowledge the cheers and kept his head down all the way into the dugout.
First postgame debriefing: "It's fun, I guess." The fun has just begun, Tim.
Contact Cam Inman at firstname.lastname@example.org.