1909 The 61-year history of Shibe Park begins with the A’s defeating the Red Sox, 8-1. The Philadelphia stadium, which will be renamed to honor Connie Mack in 1953, is the first concrete and steel ballpark in major league history.
1916 Due to a salary dispute with Joe Lannin, the Red Sox president, Tris Speaker is traded to the Indians for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas, and approximately $50,000. The future Hall of Fame outfielder will spend half of his Hall of Fame career in Cleveland, compiling a .354 batting average during his 11 seasons playing for the Tribe after playing nine outstanding seasons in Boston.
1916 The Giants start the season on the road with a 5-4 loss to Philadelphia at the Baker Bowl. The game marks the debut of New York’s new purple plaid uniforms, fortunately, a trend that will last only a year.
1931 Former Cubs pilot Joe McCarthy makes his debut as Yankee manager, beating Boston at the Bronx ballpark, 6-3. The future Hall of Fame manager, who is the team’s all-time leader in managerial wins with 1460, guides the club to eight pennants and seven World championships during his 16-year tenure in the Bronx.
1935 Lou Gehrig is named as the fifth captain in Yankee history. The 33 year-old first baseman joins Hal Chase (1912), Roger Peckinpaugh (1914-1921), Babe Ruth (six days in 1922), and Everett Scott (1922-1925) to be so honored as a player. (Our thanks to Howard W. Rosenberg of www.capanson.com for calling our attention to the correct date for this entry, which is commonly mistaken for April 21).
1953 During a preseason exhibition game in Brooklyn, the Ebbets Field public address announcer informs the crowd, including the new dad as he approaches home plate to bat, “Mickey doesn’t know it yet, but he has just become the father of an eight-pound, twelve ounce baby boy”. Mickey Mantle Jr., whose given middle name is Elven in memory of the Yankee slugger’s recently deceased dad, is the first of four children, all sons, with his wife, Merlyn.
1955 Pinch-hitting for Warren Spahn, Chuck Tanner, who becomes better known for his managerial skills, hits a home run for the Braves on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat. The 26 year-old outfielder’s eight inning round-tripper off Gerry Staley ties the score in Milwaukee’s eventual 4-2 victory over Cincinnati at County Stadium.
1955 At Municipal Stadium, the recently arrived Athletics beat the Tigers, 6-2, in their first game in Kansas City. At first, the franchise’s shift from Philadelphia will be warmly received by the Missouri fans as the A’s draw 1,393,054 patrons to the ballpark in their first season, second only to the Yankees in American League attendance.
1960 In the first game ever played at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, after Vice President Richard Nixon throws out the ceremonial first pitch, Giants’ starter Sam Jones three-hits the Cardinals, 3-1. During the third inning a protest is made by the umpires concerning the foul poles, which are discovered to be completely located in fair territory.
1960 The Indians trade Norm Cash to the Tigers in exchange for Steve Demeter. The Tribe, who acquired Cash in an off-season deal with the White Sox, will regret the move as they give away a future American League batting champ for someone who will play only four games with the franchise.
1962 Pete Richert, making his major league debut, comes out of the bullpen and strikes out the first six batter he faces, a major league record. The rookie southpaw fans four in the third inning in LA’s 11-7 comeback victory over the Reds at Dodger Stadium.
1965 At the Astrodome, the Astros lose the first regular season indoor game to the Phillies 2-0. Houston third baseman Bob Aspromonte, who collected the first Houston hit in Colt Stadium in 1962, also gets the first hit in the Astrodome as Dick Allen of the Phillies hits the first National League homer in the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.
1965 In Cincinnati, Joe Torre hits two home runs in Milwaukee’s 4-2 Opening Day victory at Crosley Field. Next season on the same date, the Braves catcher will do it again, joining teammate Eddie Mathews as the only major leaguers to have hit two round-trippers twice in games played on Opening Day.
1965 The A’s mascot Charlie-O the Mule, chosen to highlight the role the Missouri mules played in Allies victory in World War I by lugging ammunition and supplies through the mud and snow of France, makes his debut on Opening Night at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. In a pregame ceremony, Warren Hearnes, the governor of Missouri ,presents the 1,400-pound animal to team owner Charlie O.Finley, who rides his namesake much to the delight of the 18,109 fans attending the game against the Tigers.
1966 The first major league game played in Atlanta goes overtime when Pittsburgh beats the hometown Braves, 3-2. With the game deadlocked at 1-1 in the top of the thirteenth inning, starter Tony Cloninger, who will go the distance, gives up a two-run homer to Willie Stargell.
1966 On Opening Day, Jim Lonborg’s 13th inning balk plates Bob Johnson with the deciding run in Baltimore’s 5-4 victory. The Red Sox reliever’s miscue on the mound is called with two outs and the bases loaded at at Fenway Park.
1967 On Opening Day at Boston’s Fenway Park, the Red Sox draw only 8,324 to watch the team beat Chicago, 5-4. The eventual American League champs finished last season in ninth place with a 72-90 record.
1972 The first players strike in baseball history ends when the owners agree to the addition of salary arbitration to the Collective Bargaining Agreement as well as to a $500,000 increase in pension fund payments. The 86 games missed during the 13-day span will not be played because the owners refuse to compensate the players for the time they missed during the strike.
1976 The game against is rained out at Dodger Stadium for only the second time in the 14-year history of the ballpark. The washout ends a streak started in April, 1967, a span covering 724 consecutive contests.
1988 Cal Ripken Sr. is replaced by Frank Robinson as the Orioles’ manager after the team gets off to an 0-6 start. The new skipper, who has previously managed the Indians and Giants, will be winless in his first 15 games in the Baltimore dugout.
1988 Bobby Witt ties an American League record, committing four balks in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss in Detroit. The major league record for the most balks in one game is five, established in 1963 by Braves’ right-hander Bob Shaw, which included three in the third inning of the team’s 7-5 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
1990 Brett Butler walks five times in the Giants’ 13-4 win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The speedy outfielder will score four times after being issued a free pass.
1992 In a doubleheader at Cleveland, the Indians are no-hit by Red Sox hurler Matt Young in the first game but win, 2-1, and in the nightcap the Tribe gets only two hits off Roger Clemens to set a major league record for fewest hits (2) in a twin bill.
1993 Barry Bonds, who signed a six-year, $43 million deal as a free agent, the richest contract in baseball history, delights the crowd of 56,689 at Candlestick Park by homering in his first at-bat in front of the hometown fans. The clean-up hitter’s second-inning drive to deep right field off Mike Hammond proves to be the difference in San Francisco’s 4-3 extra-inning victory over Florida.
1994 Scott Cooper hits for the cycle and drives in five runs, helping the Red Sox to rout the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, 22-11. The third baseman’s fifth inning triple is the result of being thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the three-bagger into an inside-the-park home run.
2001 The Blue Jays game against the Royals is postponed when SkyDome’s retractable dome gets jammed during a routine test opening, sending chunks of the roof, some as big as eight feet by six feet, crashing onto the field below. The gaping hole in the dome is clearly visible from the outside of the ballpark, making the damage easy to spot by the city’s commuters on a nearby expressway.
2001 The combat-ready Padres, wearing camouflage jerseys and green caps, finally win the battle against the Giants, after five consecutive losses to the black and orange, 8-3. San Diego donned the uniforms to honor the area’s significant military population.
2002 The Twins, in their first sellout since winning the World Series in 1991, beat the toothless Tigers in the home opener, 4-2, in front of 48,244 loud and enthusiastic fans at the Metrodome. The Minnesota franchise had been considered for elimination due to MLB’s contraction plan proposed during the off-season.
2002 Barry Bonds, with his 574th career round tripper, passes former Twin first baseman Harmon Killebrew on the all-time home run list. The Giants’ left fielder hit his milestone homer, which ranks him sixth overall, in the first inning off Nelson Figueroa in the Giants’ 3-2 victory over Milwaukee.
2003 Fenway’s Green Monster, the left field wall in the major league’s smallest park, has a new look. In the place of a net that was use to collect home runs balls that cleared the wall, the fans now occupy the space, sitting 310 feet away and 40 feet above the field, as they watch Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez give up ten runs in 4.1 innings in a 13-6 loss to the Orioles.
2003 The Royals set a franchise record when they beat the Indians to win their ninth consecutive game. The 5-2 victory at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field keeps Kansas City undefeated since the start of the season.
2004 At the Giants’ home opener at SBC Park, the torch is passed both literally and figuratively as Barry Bonds hit his 660th career homer to tie his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the all-time home run list. The 72 year-old Hall of Famer Mays greets his godson at home plate with a torch studded with $18,000 of diamonds forming the numbers 660, 25, which is Barry’s number, and 1, the number to needed move ahead.
2004 In front of a sellout crowd of 41,626 fans, the Phillies play their first game in their $458 million Pattison Avenue ballpark. On a cloudy day, the Citizens Bank Park history begins with a 4-1 loss to the Reds with right fielder Bobby Abreu hitting the park’s first homer, accounting for Philadelphia’s only run.
2004 A ten-foot bronze statue of Richie Ashburn is unveiled at Citizens Bank Park, the new home of the Phillies. Zenos Frudakis’s work of the five-time All-Star can be found behind centerfield in Ashburn Alley, which features the team’s Walk of Fame.
2006 Twenty-two year-old college senior Jeffrey Maier hits a third-inning two-bagger against Bates to become the all-time career hits leader at Wesleyan, with 169, surpassing the 2003 mark set by Bill Robinson. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound third baseman gained national notoriety a decade ago as a 12 year-old young fan when he leaned over the Yankee Stadium fence to catch Derek Jeter’s fly ball ‘homer’, which prevented Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco from catching the ball during the 1996 ALCS.
2008 The Charleston RiverDogs, a Class-A minor league affiliate of the Yankees, commemorate the first visit of Benedict XVI to the United States with a Pope on a Rope Night promotion. The first 1,000 fans attending the South Atlantic League game against Rome at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park receive a soap figurine which bears a likeness of the Holy Father.
2009 A pair of tickets for the Mets home opener at Citi Field, with a face value of $525 apiece, is auctioned off for $7,500 on eBay. The ducats were owned by Bernard Madoff, who is in jail after pleading guilty last month to defrauding investors, including Mets owner Fred Wilpon, in a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
2009 With runners taking off from first and second base, Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion’s soft liner liner to Pirates’ shortstop Jack Wilson is turned into a triple play. The triple killing is the Bucs’ first since 1993, and the team’s first on the road in 41 years.
2010 On an unusually warm spring day, the hometown Twins beat Boston, 5-2, in the first regular-season game played at Target Field. Minnesota DH Jason Kubel hits the ballpark’s first home run, a seventh inning shot into the right-field seats.
2010 With 9,129 fans in attendance, the smallest crowd in the 19-year history of the ballpark, the Orioles lose to Tampa Bay at Camden Yards, 5-1. The club, off to a 1-6 start in the new season, has scored only three runs in their last three games.
2011 The Rakuten Eagles, unable to use their own stadium due to the extensive damage caused by last month’s massive earthquake and tsunami, beat the Chiba Lotte Marines at QVC Marine Field, 6-4, in Japan’s Pacific League opener. The crowd of 22,525 attending the game was not disturbed when an aftershock from an earthquake in Chiba earlier in the day could be felt at the ballpark.
2012 Paulo Orlando becomes the first major leaguer to have each of his first three career hits be a triple when he bangs out his second three-bagger in the Royals’ 9-2 victory over Los Angeles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Three days ago, the 29 year-old rookie outfielder also legged out a three-bag base hit off White Sox left-hander John Danks, after being walked in his big-league debut at the plate.
2015 Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton hits the fifth home run ever to leave Dodger Stadium, a 475-foot blast off a 85-mph cut fastball thrown by LA right-hander Mike Bolsinger in the team’s 11-1 defeat at Chavez Ravine. The Miami slugger joins Mark McGwire (1999), Mike Piazza (1997), and Willie Stargell (1969,1973) in accomplishing the feat.