HOUSTON – John Singleton waited eight years and 13 days between his 14th big-league home run and his 15th hit.
Meanwhile, he received a 100-game suspension for the third failed marijuana test of his then-young career, was fired by his former top contender, the Houston Astros, opened a gym, and took off in the Mexican League. , collected in the minors for the Milwaukee Brewers, played all 11 games in the majors for them, was singled out for assignment, and ended up again in the Astros’ system.
It took him less than half an hour to hit #16 in Houston’s 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Singleton made his debut with Houston as a 22-year-old in 2014. In his first big league game, he hosted for the Angels. By then, he had already taken two failed drug tests on minors, spent a month in rehab, and He admitted to the Associated Press“At this point it’s very clear to me that I’m hooked.”
He also had a $10 million contract guaranteed and up to $35 million over eight years, signed before accruing a single day of service time. He was a towering first baseman First player ever to sign a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract prior to his major league debut. The Astros were coming off three straight 100-loss seasons and sought to control costs that they believed could be the crux of a championship. They were right about a lot of other players debuting at the time, but not Singleton. He appeared in just 19 games in 2015, with just nine hits and one home run—against the Angels, on July 29.
“Honestly, I kind of don’t remember it,” Singleton said Friday night about what could have been his last big league home run if not for a second chance. “A long time ago, you know, a lot happened between them.”
After nine years of debut, the Astros signed Singleton to a minor league deal in June. 692 in 33 triple-game games in the offense-friendly Pacific Coast League, earning himself a call-up to the Astros in desperate need of a left-handed batter off the bench.
Now 31, Singleton has been intact, recording a walk and a run, in two games in Baltimore this week. But in front of a sold-out Astros crowd who came to witness Justin Verlander’s 500th career start — and Houston’s first since he was traded from his short stint with the Mets — Singleton got the start against Angels southpaw Reid Detmers.
For Verlander and Singleton, Friday night’s game marked a meaningful comeback.
“It was very special to come out and hear the fans applaud,” said Verlander.
“It’s kind of like home,” Singleton said.
In his first offense where he once belonged—with his wife and two children, whom he credits with giving him a “normal life” off the field, he looks at—Singleton smashed a fastball 390 feet over the right field wall for three runs. The 2,935 home run was run in a hurry as Singleton let his bat fumble carelessly through his hands, as he did every day.
or twice a day.
Later, he hit a nearly identical two-run shot – recording his first multi-run game, a five-RBI night, and the start of what will likely be a more regular playing time.
Each would have been home runs in all 30 ballparks, and even an eight-year gap left no doubt in Singleton’s mind—from the second he made contact, he knew the ball was gone.
“Oh-Yeshe said, pronouncing it in two syllables as if that was an understatement. “Without a doubt.”
“Yes,” he said, and then said it a second time, just for good measure. “Yes.”