Monday, April 06, 2009

Opening Day Feats and Firsts

"An opener is not like any other game. There's that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can't lose 'em all." -Hall of Famer Early Wynn

To celebrate the 136th Opening Day's arrival, More Hardball has compiled a list of some historic events that occurred on Opening Day.

Firsts
-April 22, 1876: First opening day. Philadelphia Athletics falls to the Boston Red Caps 6 to 5.
-April 22, 1876: Jim O'Rourke (Boston Red Caps) earns the very first hit of the Major Leagues. Joseph Borden pitches the first winning game.
-1910: William Howard Taft became the first President to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
-May 30, 1943: Opening day for the AAGBL, South Bend versus Rockford and Kenosha opened against Racine.
-1947: Jackie Robinson debuts with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play in the Major Leagues.
-1999: First season opener played outside the US or Canada. The Padres played host to the Rockies in Monterrey, Mexico. Rockies win.

Pitching
Starts
-Tom Seaver holds the record with 16.
-Walter Johnson, Steve Carlton, and Jack Morris had 14.
-Robin Roberts and Roger Clemens have 13 starts.
No Hitters
-April 16, 1940: Twenty-one year old Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians pitched the first, and so far only, opening day no hitter.
Shut Outs
-1926: Walter Johnson pitches his 9th (a record) opening day shut out (in 14 starts, his record was 9-5).
-Jimmy Key holds the record for most wins on Opening Day without a loss (7-0). Other pitchers who hold perfect opening day records are Wes Ferrell (6-0), Lon Warneke and Rip Sewell (5-0).

Home Runs
-Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey Jr. hold the record for most opening day home runs with 8.
-Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, and Carl Yastrzemski come in second place for opening day home runs with 7.
-24 players have hit opening day grand slams, the last being Tony Batista.
-April 20, 1927: Gerald Walker (Detroit) becomes the only player to hit the cycle in an opening day game. Beginning with a home run, followed by a triple, a double, and a single.
-1959: Pitcher Don Drysdale hit his second opening day home run, becoming the only pitcher to achieve this feat.
-1966: Joe Torre becomes the only player to hit opening day home runs in two consecutive years.
-April 4, 1974: Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth's 714 home runs.
-1982: Brewers' Sixto Lezcano becomes the first and only player to hit two grand slams on different opening days (his first was in 1980).
-1986: Dwight Evans of the Boston Red Sox hits the first and only home run off the very first pitch. Detroit's Jack Morris thus holds the record for having a home run hit off the very first pitch of a season.
-1988: Toronto's George Bell hits three home runs in a single opening day game. Six years later, Karl 'Tuffy' Rhodes of the Cubs tied this record.

Mosts
-April 14, 1925: Cleveland achieves most runs scored - 21, against the St. Louis Browns' 14.
-1931: At 47, Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers becomes the oldest starter.
-Most hits by a single batter in an opening day game: 5. The last time this has happened, 1959 (Nellie Fox, White Sox).
-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened a total of 8 seasons with the first pitch.
-The Mets, the St. Louis Browns, and the Cincinnati Reds hold the record for the most consecutive opening day wins with 9.
-April 4, 1988: Largest opening day victory as the Brewers shut out the Orioles 12-0.

References
Sports Illustrated
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Guru
***There are some inconsistencies between these sources, when a conflict arose, I went with the most recent.


Offspring - One Fine Day

9 comments:

GM-Carson said...

I Tuffy Rhodes is currently still hitting homeruns in Japan.

I hope Griffey goes deep today for Seattle (he's on my fantasy team) and holds the record for most opening day hr.

Sixto Lezcano is an all-time great name.

YouGabSports said...

Great collection of facts to help kick us off into opening day.

Never knew the one about Evans hitting the only home run off the very first pitch of the season. Thanks for sharing.

GM-Carson said...

Dwight Evans is one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame.

tamtam said...

thats fascinating. i always learn something new from you guys :)

GM-Carson said...

We aim to entertain and educate.

Burton said...

Yup. That's the goal.

GM-Carson said...

Griffey hit another opening day homerun last night in Minnesota.

Burton said...

My how fast those little stats grow up. I guess Griffey is now the record holder.

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