Baseball Opening Day Facts

1. Ted Williams‘ first opening day was on April 18, 1939. That day he collected a double against the Yankees for his first major league hit. Also playing in that game for was Lou Gehrig, in his final Opening Day contest. “The Iron Horse” was playing in his 2,123rd straight game. He would play seven more games before bowing out for good. This was the only time Williams and Gehrig appeared in the same major league game.

2. Roger Maris made his Yankee debut on April 19, 1960 on Opening Day in Fenway Park against the Red Sox. Maris blasted two home runs, went 4-for-5, and drove in four runs in the Yankees 8-4 win.

3. On April 14, 1915, in Philadelphia, A’s hurler Herb Pennock no-hit the Red Sox for 8 2/3 innings. Boston outfielder Harry Hooper bounced a single past the pitcher, ruining what could have been the first Opening Day no-hitter. Bob Feller would throw the only Opening Day no-hitter, in 1940.

4. In 1950, on April 18, the Cardinals hosted the Pirates in the first Opening Day game played beneath lights. Stan Musial homered in the Cards 4-2 victory.

5. Robin Roberts holds the major league record for most consecutive Opening Day starts for the same team (12). The future Hall of Famer started every Opening Day for the Phillies from 1950 to 1961. Tom Seaver also started 12 straight openers, but with two different teams. Jack Morris came within an eyelash of tying Roberts. Morris started every Detroit opener from 1980 to 1990, but was sent packing to Minnesota in ’91. Morris started that season’s opener for the Twins and also started the 1992 campaign on the mound for Toronto, giving him 13 straight opening day starts – a record. Steve Carlton started 15 of 16 openers for the Phillies from 1971 to 1986, missing only the 1976 tilt.

6. No batter ever hit as many home runs on Opening Day as Frank Robinson. The slugging outfielder belted eight career home runs on the first day of the season. He hit three for Cincinnati, three for Baltimore, one for California, and one for Cleveland (as a playing manager). No other batter has hit Opening Day homers for four teams.

7. The record for most consecutive Opening Day wins by a team belongs to the St. Louis Browns and New York Mets. The Browns won every Opening Day tilt from 1937 to 1945. The Mets matched that nine-year streak from 1975 to 1983.

8. On April 14, 1910, William Howard Taft became the first U.S. President to throw out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. Taft threw his pitch to Walter Johnson, who started that day against the A’s, shutting them out 3-0 on just one hit.

9. George Bell and Nellie Fox are two batters who enjoyed great successes on Opening Day. On April 4, 1988 Bell hit three homers against Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen, becoming the first man to earn that trifecta. In 1994 Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes duplicated the feat for the Cubs. Fox was the last man to collect five hits on Opening Day, doing so on April 10, 1959 against Detroit in Tiger Stadium.

10. Tom Seaver holds the record for most Opening Day starts – 16. He pitched 11 for the Mets, three for Cincinnati, and two for the White Sox. He won seven, lost two, and had seven no-decisions.

11. Gee Walker is the only man to hit for the cycle on Opening Day. He accumulated his single, double, triple, and home run against Cleveland on April 20, 1937.

12. Joe Torre hit two home runs on Opening Day, 1965, at Cincinnati. He duplicated the feat the next season against Pittsburgh.

13. The only Hall of Famer to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat on Opening Day was Earl “Rock” Averill. He hit it off Detroit’s Earl Whitehill on April 16, 1929 in Cleveland. He would hit 238 in his career, with a .318 batting average.

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