One-Hit Wonders: Wascar Serrano to Tom Tellmann

This is Part 12 of a 13-part series examining the 65 men who have collected exactly one hit as a member of the San Diego Padres. The current installment features a former top pitching prospect who never made it, a fine reliever finishing his career in San Diego, another who kept the Padres from potentially drafting Rafael Palmeiro, another who once was traded for Phil Plantier, and a man who beat Phil Niekro in his first big-league start.

Wascar Serrano

Pos: RHP
Years: 2001

20  9 0 1  0  0  0   0  0 4 .111 .111 .111 -40

The Padres signed Serrano out of the Dominican Republic in 1995. The Baseball America 2001 Prospect Handbook cited Serrano as the no. 3 prospect in the system, behind right-hander “Jacob” Peavy and ahead of left-hander Mike Bynum. BA identified Serrano as having the organization’s best fastball but voiced concerns about his inability to change speeds. Still, he showed enough to rank as BA‘s no. 54 prospect in all of baseball in 2000.

John Sickels, in his 2001 Minor League Scouting Notebook gave Serrano a grade of B-plus and wondered “why he doesn’t get more attention.” (Now we know.) Serrano just missed Sickels’ top 50, meriting an honorable mention along with the late Gerik Baxter, Xavier Nady, and Peavy.

I liked Serrano when he pitched in the California League and thought he might turn into a decent setup man but wasn’t crushed when the Padres shipped him to Seattle in the Ben Davis/Ramon Vazquez trade.

In the real world, Serrano did almost nothing. His career line stands at 3-3 with a 6.56 ERA (62 ERA+). But in his second big-league game, a May 19 start at Montreal, Serrano knocked his lone base hit.

In the fourth inning, with the Padres leading, 3-1, Serrano singled to right off right-hander Masato Yoshii. A Rickey Henderson walk advanced Serrano to second base, but that’s as far as he got.

Serrano managed to work the requisite five innings, allowing four runs in the process, but notching the first win of his career thanks to a late outburst by the Padres. They scored 17 runs over the game’s final five innings — three each in fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth, and five in the seventh. Bubba Trammell drove in six, Mark Kotsay four, and Henderson three. Good times.

Serrano’s career unraveled with surprising speed. After being traded to Seattle, he spent all of 2002 in the bullpen at Triple-A Tacoma, where he posted a 6.31 ERA in 41 appearances.

Serrano made a few starts the following year for the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent Northern League. After sitting out 2004, he posted a 12.79 ERA in eight Mexican League games in 2005 before retiring at age 27.

Elias Sosa

Pos: RHP
Years: 1983

41  7 0 1  0  0  0   1  0 2 .143 .143 .143 -19

Sosa, originally signed by the San Francisco Giants, spent the last of his 12 big-league seasons in San Diego. Although he had been quite effective for the Dodgers, A’s, and Expos from 1977 to 1980 (27-17, 42 SV, 2.45 ERA, 150 ERA+ during that stretch), he didn’t do much for the Padres.

On August 29, 1983, in the second game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia, Sosa made the final start of his career (and only the third of his 601 appearances). In the fourth inning, in his final big-league at-bat, Sosa singled to left field off right-hander Steve Comer, driving home Luis Salazar and extending the Padres’ lead to 4-1.

After allowing a leadoff home run to Mike Schmidt in the sixth, Sosa departed with a 4-3 lead. Sid Monge, another one-hit wonder, replaced Sosa and couldn’t get anyone out on the team that had traded him to San Diego just a few months earlier.

Sosa retired after the season at age 33. His final line: 59-51, 83 SV, 3.32 ERA, 112 ERA+.

Tim Stoddard

Pos: RHP
Years: 1985-1986

74  9 1 1  0  0  1   1  0 3 .111 .111 .444  48

The Chicago White Sox picked Stoddard in the second round of the January 1975 draft (secondary phase) out of North Carolina State, the same school that produced fellow one-hit wonder Colt Morton. After stalling out in the White Sox system as a starter, Stoddard signed with the Baltimore Orioles and moved to the bullpen, where he became one of Earl Weaver’s late-inning options for a few seasons.

After spending 1984 with the Cubs, Stoddard came to San Diego as a free agent. The Padres forfeited a draft pick, which the Cubs used to select Rafael Palmeiro.


Stoddard spent parts of two forgettable seasons with the Padres before being shipped to New York for Ed Whitson. On June 18, 1986, a few weeks before that trade, Stoddard logged his final big-league at-bat and it was a dandy.

Working in relief of starter Mark Thurmond, Stoddard stepped to the plate against Giants right-hander Mike LaCoss with one out in the third and homered. Stoddard’s blast cut San Francisco’s lead to 3-1. Unfortunately, Stoddard gave back the run an inning later and the Giants held on to win, 6-3.

Stoddard enjoyed moderate success after being traded to the Yankees and eventually ended up in Cleveland. He pitched reasonably well for the Indians in 1989 but was released that summer and never pitched again.

At age 36, Stoddard retired with a line of 41-35, 76 SV, 3.95 ERA, 101 ERA+. Among Stoddard’s most similar pitchers at Baseball-Reference are former Padres Jack Baldschun, Matt Herges, and Mike Maddux.

Jeff Tabaka

Pos: LHP
Years: 1994-1995

44  1 1 1  1  0  0   0  1 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 668

The Montreal Expos selected Tabaka in the second round of the 1986 June draft (they took fellow Padres one-hit wonder Gene Harris in the fifth that year) out of Kent State. Originally a starter, Tabaka never mastered Double-A and in 1992, he was shifted to bullpen duty.

By now, Tabaka was 28 years old and with his third organization. But he was still left handed, so he plugged away and hoped.

In 1994, the Pirates called up Tabaka and got him into a few games. They tried to pass him through waivers in May, but the Padres snagged him.

Despite being strike-zone challenged, Tabaka pitched reasonably well for his new club. And on July 22, 1994, in his first big-league at-bat, he knocked his only hit.

After having retired two batters in the first game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia, Tabaka came on in relief of starter Scott Sanders in the nightcap. Tabaka didn’t pitch well — he faced 10 batters, 3 scored — but he helped kick-start the offense.

With San Diego trailing, 3-1, Tabaka led off against former Padres left-hander Fernando Valenzuela and grounded a 1-1 pitch to left field for a double. The next batter, Luis Lopez, singled home Tabaka and the Padres went on to tie the score.

Tabaka left after the fifth inning with a 4-3 lead. Doug Brocail coughed up a solo homer to Todd Pratt in the sixth that cost Tabaka a shot at the win, but the visitors broke through against another ex-Padre, 41-year-old right-hander Larry Andersen, in the eighth to salvage the split.

The Padres traded Tabaka to Houston almost exactly a year later for Phil Plantier (the second of his three stints in San Diego). Tabaka retired in 2001 with a line of 6-5, 2 SV, 4.31 ERA, 98 ERA+. And, of course, a double off Valenzuela.

Tom Tellmann

Pos: RHP
Years: 1979-1980

7  9 0 1  0  0  0   1  0 5 .111 .111 .111 -36

Tellmann’s big-league career was short but good. The Padres picked him in the 11th round of the 1976 June draft out of Grand Canyon University (third best player to come from that institution behind Tim Salmon and Chad Curtis). San Diego had a miserable draft that year — Tellmann, first rounder Bob Owchinko, and 19th rounder Gary Lucas were the best of the lot; Steve Mura, Mark Lee, and Broderick Perkins kicked around a while as well.

Working exclusively in relief, Tellmann enjoyed success on his way up through the minors. After a respectable 1979 campaign at Triple-A Hawaii, Tellmann moved to the rotation a year later and pitched even better. The Padres called him up in September and he went 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA in six appearances, completing both of his starts.

On September 21, making his first big-league start for Jerry Coleman’s Padres, Tellmann went up against Atlanta’s Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro. Sadly, a mere 2846 spectators would bear witness to one of Tellmann’s finest moments in San Diego.

Tellmann’s hit came in the fifth. With Luis Salazar on second and two out, Braves skipper Bobby Cox had Niekro intentionally walk catcher Bill Fahey. The strategy was spoiled when Tellmann singled to center, driving home Salazar. Gene Richards followed with a single that plated Fahey, extending the Padres’ lead to 3-0.

Atlanta eventually would break through against Tellmann in the seventh. Dale Murphy reached on an error by Salazar, and Jeff Burroughs (father of former Padres third baseman Sean Burroughs) singled him home. But Tellmann got back to the business of shutting down the Braves and held on to win, 3-1.

Tellmann would spend all of ’81 in Hawaii’s rotation and ’82 in its bullpen. The Padres traded him to Milwaukee after the 1982 season for Tim Cook and Weldon Swift, neither of whom reached the big leagues.

Tellmann pitched well for the Brewers in ’83 and ’84 before sputtering with Oakland the following season and calling it quits. He finished with a line of 18-7, 13 SV, 3.05 ERA, 125 ERA+. Tellmann and Brian Sweeney are the only pitchers in history to have won at least three games without a loss in their Padres career.

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3 Responses »

  1. I don’t say this enough but thank you very much kind sir for the link love. It’s always appreciated.

    Ugh…Stoddard essentially for Palmeiro? At least they got Whitson back though. Man, reading all your series and posts makes me realize that there were a lot of mistakes made in Padreland over the years.

  2. My pleasure… and yeah, the more I learn about the history of the Padres, the more I come to appreciate why a certain segment of the fan base is suspicious of *anything* the team does.