The youngest player in major league baseball history made his debut when he was 15 years and 316 days old. That is a just a kid, and a very young age for a baseball player to play in the major leagues. There is a specific reason why the youngest player in major league baseball history made his debut at such a young age.
There have been around a dozen baseball players who made their major league debuts when they were 16 years old. The first was pitcher Jim Britt in 1872, and the last was pitcher Jim Derrington in 1956. None of the players who debuted at 16 years of age went on to have great careers. Many of them had pretty short careers.
The youngest player in major league baseball history did have a decent career. He was a pitcher and he pitched in the major leagues for 16 years, and was twice an all-star.
There is a 44 year age difference between the oldest player in major league baseball history and the youngest.
Youngest Player in Major League Baseball History
- Joe Nuxhall – 15 years and 316 days old
Joe Nuxhall is the youngest player in major league baseball history. Nuxhall made his debut for the Cincinnati Reds on June 10, 1944, when he was just 15 years and 316 days old.
The Reds used Joe Nuxhall in that game at such a young age because major league baseball had a huge player shortage in 1944 due to WW II. Nuxhall did not pitch well in the game, which he entered in the ninth inning and the Reds trailing by a score of 13-0.
Nuxhall retired the first batter he faced, but then he gave up five walks, two hits, and threw a wild pitch while retiring just one more batter before he was relieved. Joe Nuxhall ended up giving up five earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning. The Reds then sent Nuxhall to the minor leagues.
It would be eight more years before Joe Nuxhall pitched again in the major leagues at age 23 in 1952. Nuxhall ended up pitching in the major leagues for 16 years, and retired with a 135-117 record and a 3.90 ERA. He was an all-star in 1955 and 1956.
After his playing career was over, Joe Nuxhall became a Cincinnati Reds announcer. Nuxhall called Reds games until he retired in 2004, and then he would occasionally make appearances in the broadcast booth for home games until he passed away in 2007 at the age of 79.
Youngest Player Since 1994
- Alex Rodriguez
The youngest player to make his major league debut over the last 20 years is Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod first appeared in a game in 1994 at the age of 18 for the Seattle Mariners.
Last 17 Year Old in the Major Leagues
- Larry Dierker
The last 17 year old in the major leagues was Larry Dierker, who was on the Houston Colt .45’s roster at age 17, but did not make his major league pitching debut until his 18th birthday on September 22, 1964.