Cup of coffee
A cup of coffee is a short stretch spent in the Major Leagues, supposedly named that because the player has only long enough to drink a cup of coffee before he's back in the minors. Players may receive a cup of coffee for several reasons:
- As a major league tryout for a relatively unknown player.
- As a short-term replacement for a player on the disabled list.
- To acclimate a prospect to the majors.
The first use was much more common decades ago before the development of the modern farm system.
- A player who never had more than a cup of coffee in the major leagues should not be viewed as a failure. One even made the Hall of Fame as a manager, Walter Alston. A great many players who had only one brief cup of coffee in the majors played for ten years or more in the minor leagues, often on teams in the old days that were as good as many major league teams. In addition, players with brief major league careers often have had long careers as major or minor league managers, coaches, scouts or front office personnel. Players from other countries may have had a brief cup of coffee in the USA but played many years in their own country.
Author Rob Trucks devoted a book called Cup of Coffee to interviews with 18 major-league pitchers about their very short careers.