1912 In the first game ever played at Fenway Park, the Red Sox beat Harvard, 2-0, in an abbreviated exhibition contest played on a cold and snowy afternoon in front of 3,000 hardy fans. Crimson third baseman and captain Dana Wingate, a sophomore from Winchester, Massachusetts, becomes the first batter in the Boston ballpark, taking the first pitch for ball one before being struck out on a fastball thrown by Casey Hageman.
1913 The Phillies spoil the debut of Ebbets Field, beating the Dodgers, 1-0, in front of small crowd of approximately 10,000 fans, who brave the extremely cold weather to witness the pitching duel. Brooklyn is given special permission to open the season a day early to properly inaugurate its new $75,000 Brooklyn ballpark, which took a year to build.
1916 After helping the team capture its third World Series title, Tris Speaker, declining their request to take a pay cut, is traded by the Red Sox to the Indians for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas, and $55,000. The Grey Eagle’s salary of $17,500 is deemed to be exorbitant by Boston, due to the future Hall of Fame outfielder’s batting average dropping to .322 during the previous season.
1947 Dodger skipper Leo Durocher, feuding with the Yankees, is suspended for one year by commissioner Happy Chandler for an assortment of actions deemed detrimental to baseball, including association with known gamblers. The Brooklyn and New York clubs are both fined $2,000, and by order of the commissioner, are not allowed to discuss the matter.
1953 For the first time since 1901, big leaguers play baseball in Milwaukee. In the first game ever at County Stadium, the newly-arrived Braves take on their former cross-town rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in a pre-season exhibition game, which the hometown trails, 3-0, and is washed-out after two innings due to rain.
1959 Little League pitching mounds are moved back two feet to a distance of 46 feet. The change is based on the recommendation of Dr. Creighton Hale, the organization’s vice president and director of research, who reasoned a ball thrown by youngster at 70 mph from the new distance would give the batter about the same about amount of time to swing at a pitch, proportionately, as the major leaguers have.
1959 At Washington, D.C.’s Griffith Stadium, the Orioles become the first major league team to turn a triple play on Opening Day. Vice-President Richard Nixon, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch substituting for President Eisenhower, sees the hometown Senators post a 9-2 victory over Baltimore, behind a solid seven-hit, complete game performance by Pedro Ramos.
1962 Keeping a Laotian prince waiting in the White House, President Kennedy opens up the Washington’s new $23-million D.C. Stadium by tossing the ceremonial first pitch. Despite a rain delay, After the rain delay, JFK stays for the entire game and enjoys seeing Mickey Vernon’s Senators beat the Tigers, 4-1.
1963 As a favor to former Indians infielder Johnny Berardino, now known as Johnny Beradino, who plays Dr. Steve Hardy on General Hospital, Yogi Berra makes a cameo appearance on the popular ABC soap opera. The Yankee legend, known for his paradoxical contradictions, plays the role of Dr. Lawrence Berra, a brain surgeon.
1964 Much to the chagrin of team executive Branch Rickey, the Cardinals trade Jimmie Coker and Gary Kolb to the Braves for catcher Bob Uecker. The Redbirds’ new backstop, after introducing himself, is quickly informed by Rickey, “I didn’t want you. I wouldn’t trade one Gary Kolb for a hundred Bob Ueckers.”
1965 Houston begins playing in the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ when they host an exhibition game against the Yankees at the Astrodome, the first domed sports stadium in history. In the opening ceremonies, 24 astronauts throw 24 ceremonial first pitches as the Colt .45’s become the Astros.
1966 After sharing space at Wrigley Field in 1961 and Dodger Stadium from 1962-65 during their first five seasons in Los Angeles, the Angels move to nearby Anaheim into their own stadium. The ‘Halos’, now known as the California Angels, host the San Francisco Giants in a pre-season exhibition game in the first contest ever played at Anaheim Stadium.
1968 In Atlanta, Georgia, Bill Veeck is among the throng of marchers taking part in Martin Luther King’s funeral procession that is held five days after the civil rights leader is slain in Memphis. The former owner of the Browns, Indians, and White Sox, who spent 15 hours standing in line to pay his respect to JFK at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in 1963, walks the entire three-and-a-half mile route from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College on his wooden leg without the aid of crutches.
1969 Billy Williams hits four consecutive doubles, helping the Cubs beat Philadelphia at Wrigley Field, 11-3. The Chicago outfielder’s quartet of two-baggers ties the major-league record for doubles, shared by 29 players and last accomplished by in 1963 by Detroit center fielder Billy Bruton.
1970 On the Dick Cavett Show, Paul Simon tells Mickey Mantle the lyrics to Mrs. Robinson would have been ‘Where have you gone, Mickey Mantle’ but explains to his favorite player, “it’s about syllables, Mick. It’s about how many beats there are.” The songwriter’s most interesting and well-known lyrics will be instead, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo), What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away, (Hey, hey, hey…hey, hey, hey).
1976 Orioles’ right-hander Jim Palmer and Boston’s Ferguson Jenkins, both future members of the Hall of Fame, stage a classic pitching duel at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium on Opening Day. The Birds, behind the eight inning, six-hit effort by ‘Cakes’, beat the Red Sox and Fergie, who goes the distance, 1-0, thanks to an unearned run scored in the fourth inning.
1976 The White Sox’s new owner Bill Veeck, known for his promotional genius, surprises the Opening Day crowd at Comiskey Park when he, Rudie Schaffer, and Paul Richards take the field wearing battered Continental Army uniforms to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial. The trio, caring a fife, drum, and flag, strike a pose in their tattered garb, reminiscent of Archibald MacNeal Willard’s painting The Spirit of ’76, a popular piece of art depicting Revolutionary War veterans that was displayed at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition 100 years earlier.
1977 During the home opener against Houston at San Diego Stadium, Ray Kroc, the Padres’ new owner, uses the ballpark’s public address system to thank the fans and berate the players for the their poor play. At the start of the fast-food tycoon’s eighth-inning tirade, a streaker jumps over the railing of the stands in left field and runs haphazardly across the field.
1980 Two days prior to the start of the season, the Durham Bulls uniforms are stolen. Atlanta’s minor league director, Hank Aaron, sends the team a set of used Braves uniforms to wear on the road as the team decides to wear its road uniforms at home.
1980 At the Kingdome, Opening Day starter Mike Parrott gets the win as the Mariners beat the Blue Jays, 8-6. The Oxnard native will not enjoy another victory for the rest of the year, finishing the season with a 1-16 record.
1981 On Opening Day, Fernando Valenzuela, making his first major league start in place of scheduled starter Jerry Reuss, blanks Houston on five hits at Dodger Stadium, 2-0. During the strike-shortened season, the 20 year-old rookie from Mexico will lead the league in game starts (25), complete games (11), and shutouts (8).
1985 Tom Seaver establishes a big league record with his 15th Opening Day assignment, earning the victory in the White Sox’s 4-2 win over Milwaukee at County Stadium. The right-hander, who also got the first day nods from the Mets (1968-77, 1983) and Reds (1978-79, 1981), will extend the mark previously held by Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators to 16 next season.
1985 The Mets’ offseason acquisition of Gary Carter pays immediate dividends when he connects for a walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning, giving his new team a 6-5 victory over St. Louis on Opening Day at Shea Stadium. The 31 year-old All-Star catcher is the first player to end their first contest with a New York team with a round-tripper.
1987 Indian hurlers Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton combine to beat the Blue Jays, 14-3 at Exhibition Stadium, making it the first time in major league history that two 300-game winners pitch for the same team in the same game. Niekro goes the first five innings to get his 312th career win, and ‘Lefty’ blanks Toronto for the final four frames.
1989 On a very cold Sunday afternoon, Rick Sutcliffe adds to the wind chill, striking out 11 batters in the Cubs’ 8-3 win over Pittsburgh. Despite a temperature of 33 degrees, along with a stiff breeze making it feel like eight above, 11,387 fans brave the elements to watch the right-hander’s complete-game effort at Wrigley Field.
1990 On Opening Day, Glenn Davis is hit by a pitch three times, tying a major league record which is shared by many major leaguers. The Houston first baseman’s body blows do not lead to any runs in the team’s 8-4 loss to Cincinnati at the Astrodome.
1990 Delino DeShields, the 21 year-old second baseman of the Expos, goes 4-for-6 to become only the second rookie to collect four hits in an Opening Day debut. Forrest Jacobs, also a second baseman, became the first major league rookie to collect four hits in his 1954 Opening Day debut with the Philadelphia A’s.
1990 In the locker room after Cincinnati’s 8-4 victory over Houston, Randy Myers, in response to Houston Chronicle beat writer informing him that the Astros weren’t happy about Glenn Davis being hit three times, lets it be known if there is any retaliation, he and his teammates (Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton) clock at least ninety-five on the radar gun. When the reporter responds with “that’s pretty nasty,” the left-hander counters, “Well, we’re pretty nasty guys,” giving rise to the trio of hard-throwing Reds relievers being called the ‘Nasty Boys’.
1990 Keeping with the team’s tradition of having a rookie select the music, Reds freshman first baseman Hal Morris picks U Can’t Touch This, following the Opening Day 8-4 extra-inning victory at the Astrodome. The iconic MC Hammer tune will become the team’s mantra and the unofficial theme song for the eventual world champs.
1993 Bo Jackson, in his first at-bat after eighteen months of rehab following his hip replacement surgery, connects for a home run with his first swing of the season in the team’s 11-6 Opening Day loss to New York at Comiskey Park. The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, en route to being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year, will hit 16 home runs and collect 45 RBIs in 85 games, contributing to the White Sox’s American League West Division title.
1993 Thanks to a four-run first inning sparked by Eric Young’s leadoff home run, the Rockies defeat the Expos 11-4 for their first win ever. The crowd of 80,227 at Colorado’s Mile High Stadium establishes a new major league Opening Day attendance record.
1993 At the age of 46, Nolan Ryan becomes the oldest pitcher to start and win an Opening Day game when the Rangers win their home opener against the Red Sox, 3-1. Previously, Yankee southpaw Tommy John held the distinction, being 45 years old when he started and beat the Twins in the 1989 opener at the Metrodome.
1998 In a 13-4 Rockies rout of the Reds, Ellis Burks hits two home runs at Coors Field. The homers give the Colorado outfielder four for the season, which accounts for all the hits the .154 batter has collected thus far this season.
1999 Just two days after celebrating his 80th birthday, former Orioles owner Jerold C. Hoffberger dies unexpectedly. The philanthropist enjoyed five American League pennants and two World Championships during his 14-year tenure, before selling the club to Edward Bennett Williams after the 1979 season.
2000 Indians DH Jim Thome earns the platinum sombrero when he strikes out five times, tying a major league record. Cleveland still prevails in the Tropicana Field tilt, posting a 17-4 victory over Tampa Bay.
2000 Each team hit three consecutive home runs in the same game for the first time in major league history in the Twins’ 13-7 victory over the Royals. Ron Coomer, Jacque Jones, and Matt Lecroy connect consecutively in the sixth for Minnesota and Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye, and Hector Carrasco go back-to-back-to-back for Kansas City in the eighth frame of the Kauffman Stadium contest.
2001 Willie Stargell, the all-time Pirate career leader in home runs, RBIs, and extra-base hits, dies from kidney problems at the age of 61. After leading the Bucs to the 1979 World Championship, ‘Pops’, a career .282 hitter, became the oldest player (39) to win a MVP award when he shares the award with Keith Hernandez.
2001 Pittsburgh’s PNC Park makes its major league debut as hometown product Sean Casey leads the visiting Reds past the Pirates, 8-2. The Cincinnati first baseman, who hit the first home run at Miller Park three days ago, goes 4-for-4 and again has the honor of hitting the first round-tripper in a major league park’s history. The bat, which is used to hit both historic homers, is sent to the Hall of Fame.
2004 The Yankees and Joe Torre agree to a three-year extension. The contract also includes an additional six-year deal in which the 62 year-old manager will serve as a team advisor through the 2013 season.
2005 Juan Pierre’s consecutive innings streak comes to an end at 1700 as his name is not in the starting lineup of Florida. The Marlins’ center fielder, whose consecutive game streak stays intact at 340 by entering the contest as an eighth inning defensive replacement, joins Cal Ripken (Orioles, 1983-86) and Travis Fryman (Tigers, 1995) as the only big leaguers to play every inning for his team during a season.
2006 Cory Sullivan becomes the 11th player in big league history to hit two triples in the same inning and the first since Gil Coan of the Senators accomplished the feat in 1951. The Colorado leadoff hitter’s two seventh inning three-baggers contribute to the Rockies’ 10-4 win over the Padres.
2009 Just hours after pitching six shutout innings against Oakland, Nick Adenhart is killed in a hit-and-run car accident. In memory of the 22 year-old right-handed rookie, the Angels postpone tonight’s game with the A’s.
2012 Joining Roy Oswalt, Barry Zito becomes only the second opposing pitcher to whitewash the Rockies at Coors Field, posting a 7-0 victory. The shutout is the Giants left-hander’s first in 274 starts, the longest span in major league history without one.
2016 The Twins, suffering a 7-0 loss to Kansas City, start the season 0-5 for the first time in franchise history, a span that includes the three times the team was winless after four attempts when they played as the Washington Senators prior to the 1961 season. The the eventual nine-game losing streak will be extended 0-6 with a heartbreaking loss tomorrow when the Royals score two runs in the bottom of ninth before securing a 4-3 walk-off victory in the tenth inning at Kauffman Stadium.
2017 The Halos, trailing 9-3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, stun Seattle by scoring seven times in their 10-9 victory in Anaheim. Cliff Pennington’s single into right field plates Mike Trout with winning run, resulting with a deafening roar in Angel Stadium as the fans react to their team’s incredible comeback.