1913 In an exhibition game against the Yankees, 25,000 fans watch the Dodgers play their first game in Ebbets Field. Brooklyn beats New York, 3-2, with Casey Stengel hitting the park’s first home run, an inside-the-parker.
1925 Babe Ruth collapses at a railroad station in Asheville, North Carolina. The “bellyache heard round the world,” so dubbed when a writer suggests that illness was caused by a hot dogs and soda binge, will require hospitalization and an operation, keeping the Yankees slugger out of the lineup until May.
1934 Babe Ruth, sponsored by Quaker Oats, agrees to do weekly show on NBC radio. The Sultan of Swat’s broadcast salary for the 13-week series will be $4000 more than his reported Yankee contract of $35,000.
1934 Reds president Larry MacPhail hires 26 year-old Red Barber to broadcast the team games on WSAL. The not-so-old “Ol’ Redhead” will spend the first five years of his Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati, calling games from the stands of Crosley Field.
1935 The Braves, returning north from spring training, beat North Carolina State College, 6-2, in a contest called in the seventh inning because the teams run out baseballs, having used the 100 put aside for the game. Collegiate southpaw Olney Ray Freeman strikes out a 40 year-old Babe Ruth on a two-strike curveball, a feat the lefty would brag about until his death in 2008.
1957 The Phillies trade five players, Ron Negray, Tim Harkness, Elmer Valo, Mel Geho, and Ben Flowers (the player to be named later), and send $75,000 to the Dodgers to obtain much touted Cuban infielder Chico Fernandez. Philadelphia’s new shortstop plays three seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, batting just .242, before being traded to the Tigers.
1966 Don Larsen, the last active major leaguer who played for the Browns, is released by the Orioles. As a rookie in 1953, the Michigan City, Indiana native posted a 7-12 record for the hapless franchise, which lost 100 games in its final season in St. Louis.
1971 At RFK Stadium, 45,000 fans watch the last Opening Day game the Senators will play in the District of Columbia. Dick Bosman goes the distance, blanking the A’s on six hits in Washington’s 8-0 victory over Oakland.
1972 The season opener between the Astros and Reds is canceled due to the player strike which started on April 1. The cancellation marks the first time in major league history Opening Day is delayed, and a total of 86 games will be lost before the labor dispute is settled when both sides agree on an increase in pension fund payments with the owners also adding salary arbitration to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
1972 The Expos trade 28 year-old All-Star right fielder Rusty Staub, who is stunned by the transaction, to the Mets in exchange for outfielder Ken Singleton and infielders Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen. ‘Le Grand Orange’, a fan favorite in Montreal, will miss most of the season due to injuries, but will play a major role in New York’s ‘Ya Gotta Believe’ pennant-winning team in 1973.
1976 In a deal negotiated in the groundskeeper’s office under the third base stands at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, 31 year-old right-hander Tom Seaver agrees to a three-year contract with the Mets. The pact makes ‘Tom Terrific’, who posted a 25-9 record last season while leading the league in strikeouts with 243, the first hurler in baseball history to earn $200,000 annually.
1979 Oriole manager Earl Weaver notches his 1,000th career victory when Baltimore beats Chicago on Opening Day, 5-3, at Memorial Stadium. The future Hall of Fame skipper will finish his 17-year managerial career, all with the Birds, with a 1480-1069 (.583) record.
1983 On Opening Day, Tom Seaver, making his first appearance with the Mets since 1977, combines with Doug Sisk to blank the Phillies at Shea Stadium, 2-0. ‘Tom Terrific’, who will go on to extend the record to 16, ties Walter Johnson’s major league mark with his 14th Opening Day assignment.
1988 With a 6-3 Opening Day victory over the Padres, Houston wins its 2,000th game in franchise history. The Astros score five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, making starter Mike Scott the winning pitcher.
1989 At Riverfront Stadium, Dodgers’ hurler Orel Hershiser’s scoreless-inning streak ends at 59. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Todd Benzinger’s single scores Barry Larkin, who had been picked off after getting a base hit to lead off the game, but was safe on the ‘Bulldog’s’ throwing error.
1993 At Camden Yards, William Jefferson Clinton becomes the first U.S. president to successfully throw the first pitch of the season from the pitcher’s mound. Orioles starter Rick Suttcliffe doesn’t fare as well when the Birds lose to the Rangers, 7-4.
1993 At Shea Stadium, the Rockies lose their National League debut to the Mets, 3-0. Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden pitches a four-hit complete game for the victory.
1993 In front of 42,334 fans at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, the Florida Marlins, making their major league debut, defeat the Dodgers, 6-3. Joe DiMaggio throws out the ceremonial first pitch, and the team retires uniform number 5 in tribute to Carl Barger, their late president.
1993 On Opening Day, Greg Maddux, signed as a free agent in the offseason, allows no runs and scatters five hits to his former team over 8 1/3 innings. Mike Stanton gets the last two out in the Braves’ 1-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
1993 Eric Fox, inserted into the game as a late-inning defensive replacement, hits a grand-slam home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving the A’s a 9-4 Opening Day victory before 43,370 fans at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It will be the outfielder’s only homer of the season.
1997 At Olympic Stadium, the Rockies set a franchise record with seven home runs, including three by Larry Walker, who is pulled from the game in the eighth inning by Rockies manager Don Baylor. The Colorado skipper doesn’t want to run up the score against the Expos with his team ahead 15-1.
1998 After five attempts, the Diamondbacks win their first game in franchise history when Andy Benes pitches seven strong innings, and Matt Williams paces the attack with three hits in the team’s 3-2 victory over San Francisco at Bank One Ballpark. Arizona’s 0-5 start is the second longest season-opening losing streak for an expansion team in its first season, surpassed only by the 1962 Mets, who didn’t record a victory until their tenth game.
2003 The Royals become the first major league team to begin the season 5-0 after losing 100-games the prior year. Runelvys Hernandez, the winner of a coin toss making him the Opening Day starter, wins his second game when he allows two hits in seven innings, beating the Indians, 2-1.
2003 To show support for the U.S. troops in Iraq, the White Sox announce all active military members showing a military ID will be given free admission to most home games at U.S. Cellular Field. The free passes will not be available during the Cubs series scheduled for June.
2004 Braves’ general manager John Schuerholz announces the team has exercised the option to retain Bobby Cox as the team’s manager through the 2005 season. The 62 year-old skipper, ninth all-time in managerial wins with 1,906, has won a record 12-consecutive divisional titles.
2005 The Nationals, formerly known as the Expos, lose their inaugural season opener, bowing to the Phillies, 8-4. The franchise, which played its initial 36 years in Montreal, becomes the first team to represent the nation’s capital since the Senators left Washington to become the Texas Rangers in 1971.
2005 Johan Santana’s streak of 22 straight starts of allowing three or fewer runs comes to an end when the southpaw gets the victory in the Twins’ 8-4 victory over Seattle at Safeco Field. Last season’s Cy Young Award winner has the second longest streak of giving fewer than four runs in consecutive outings, trailing only Dwight Gooden’s 24 in 1985.
2005 The Royals become the first team since 1901 to overcome a ninth-inning deficit of four runs on Opening Day when they rally to beat the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium, 9-7. Kansas City center fielder Carlos Beltran’s two-run walk-off homer is the keynote hit in the team’s six-run final frame.
2006 Sluggerrr, the Royals’ Mascot, celebrates his tenth birthday at Kauffman Stadium. In the offseason, the nearly seven-foot tall lion with a crown built into his skull, is very active in the Kansas City community, visiting local schools, encouraging youngsters to be good students and good citizens.
2009 Jordan Schafer becomes the tenth Brave in franchise history and the 99th overall player overall to hit a home run in his first major league at bat. The 22 year-old rookie center fielder, who never played in a level higher than Double A, goes deep off off Philadelphia’s Opening Day starter Brett Myers in the second inning at Citizens Bank Park.
2010 Receiving mostly cheers from the standing-room-only crowd at Nationals Stadium, President Barack Obama, wearing a White Sox cap and a Nats jacket, continues a 100-year tradition when he throws the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Washington’s home opener against Philadelphia. The Commander-in-Chief’s toss is high and wide, but third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is able to make a lunging grab of the ball.
2010 Jason Heyward becomes the eleventh Braves player in franchise history to homer in his first major league at-bat. The much touted 20 year-old rookie, with the hometown fans chanting, “Let’s go, Heyward!”, hits a three-run homer in the first inning off Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano at Turner Field.
2010 The Red Sox and their ace, Josh Beckett, come to terms on a $68 million, four-year contract extension. The agreement keeps the team’s Opening Day starter in Boston along with recent free agent acquisition John Lackey, giving the club a strong 1-2 punch in the top of their rotation for the next five years.
2010 Matt Stairs plays for his twelfth major league organization, equaling Deacon McGuire’s record (1884 to 1912) for the most teams ever played with by a position player. The 18-year veteran, who also joins pitchers Mike Morgan and Ron Villone for being on a dozen different clubs, flies out in a pinch-hitting role for the Padres in a 6-3 loss to Arizona at Chase Field.
2011 Nine pitchers each contribute a hitless inning apiece when the High Desert Mavericks (Adelanto, California) no-hit the local Victor Valley Community College Rams, 12-0. Hurlers James Gillheeny, Tim Boyce, Nick Czyz, Austin Hudson, Johnathan Hesketh, Ogui Diaz, Jose Jimenez, John Housey, and Chris Kirkland share the equal workload for the California League’s Class A – Advanced affiliate of the Mariners.
2012 Cooper Stone helps to unveil the statue depicting him and his dad holding hands and having a conversation wearing their baseball caps in front of a gate at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The inscription on the sculpture, created by Bruce Greene, reads “In memory of Shannon Stone and dedicated to all fans who love the game” in tribute to his father, who died last season at the stadium attending a game with his six year-old son when he flipped over the railing and fell twenty feet, onto the concrete behind the out-of-town scoreboard in left field, after reaching for a ball thrown into the stands by Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton.
2012 J.P. Arencibia’s three-run homer in the 16th inning, giving the Blue Jays an eventual 7-4 victory over Cleveland, ends the longest opening-day game in major league history. The Progressive Field marathon surpasses the 15-inning Opening Day contests between Cleveland and Detroit in 1960 and Philadelphia and Washington in 1926.
2013 Joining Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998), and Nelson Cruz (2011), Chris Davis, who collects a grand slam and five RBIs in the Orioles’ home opener, becomes the fourth player in major league history to homer in his first four games of the season. The 27 year-old Baltimore first baseman also breaks the RBI mark for the same span, driving in 16 runs, four more than the previous record shared by three players.
2014 Ike Davis becomes the second player in franchise history to deliver a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam when he goes deep off J.J. Hoover in New York’s’ 6-3 victory over Cincinnati at Citi Field. The only other Met to accomplished the feat is the team’s current third base coach Tim Tuefel, who went yard off the bench with the bases loaded in 1986 against Philadelphia.
2015 The day before the season begins, A.J. Preller continues his makeover of the Padres, acquiring All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from the Braves for outfielders Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin, minor league right-hander Matt Wisler, outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck, and the 41st overall draft pick. The San Diego GM increases the club’s payroll significantly to pull off the stunning deal, with most of the cost involving taking on the remaining $46.35 million still owed Upton, who will now join his brother B.J. as a teammate.
2016 For the first time in more than six decades, the Cubs and White Sox start the same season with two victories and no losses. The last time both Chicago teams were undefeated after two games occurred in 1951, two seasons before Ernie Banks played his rookie year.