Everything There Is To Know About Opening Day

Around noon yesterday, I was up to my ear brows in my 2023 Income Tax preparation.  Frankly, I would have used just about any excuse to put that aside for a while; so, when my computer “announced” that some email had arrived, FORM 1116 went on hiatus.  The email came from the “reader in Houston” who you will recognize as a font of sports history and stats.  I mentioned yesterday that MLB’s Opening Day traditions have changed in recent years and that probably spurred him to provide a minor treatise on the history of Opening Day in MLB.  None of what follows is mine; today is courtesy of the “reader in Houston”:

  1. President Howard Taft threw out the first ball on Opening Day in 1910.  In all, 12 US Presidents have thrown out the first ball on Opening Day.
  2. Tom Seaver was the starting pitcher on Opening Day 16 times (with 3 different teams).  That is the most for any pitcher in MLB history.
  3. Ted Williams’ batting average on Opening Day was .449.
  4. The record for the most consecutive Opening Day wins is 10 – – a record shared by the Boston Beaneaters (1887-1996) and the Houston Astros (2013-2022).
  5. Walter Johnson started 14 Opening Day games and pitched 9 shutouts in those games.  One of those shutouts was a 15-inning game against the A’s that ended with the score 1-0 and the game only took 2 hours and 33 minutes to play.
  6. Four players have hit 3 HRs in their Opening Day games – – Matt Davidson, George Bell, Tuffy Rhodes and Dmitri Young.
  7. In 1903, the Boston Americans and the Philadelphia A’s played a doubleheader on Opening Day.  The last time there was a doubleheader on Opening Day was in 1971 between the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s.
  8. In 1907, the Phillies won on Opening Day by a forfeit when NY Giants’ fans threw snowballs onto the field and refused to stop.  The umpires declared a forfeit and the Phillies won 9-0.
  9. In 1923, the Yankees and Red Sox opened the season in the newly constructed Yankee Stadium.  Babe Ruth hit a homerun in that first game in the original Yankee Stadium.
  10. Opening Day in 1925 produced the highest scoring first game of the season.  The Cleveland Indians beat the St. Louis Browns 21-14 thanks to the Browns committing 10 errors resulting in 11 runs for the Indians.
  11. In 1940, the Indians’ Bob Feller threw a ho-hitter at the White Sox; that is the only no-hitter ever on Opening Day.
  12. In 1947, Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut – – and the “reader in Houston” was at that game and still has memorabilia for it in a box in his attic.
  13. In 1950, the Cardinals beat the Pirates on Opening Day in the first night game played on Opening Day.
  14. Hank Aaron’s 714th homerun – – the one that tied Babe Ruth’s career record – – came on Opening Day in 1974.
  15. The longest Opening Day game in MLB history was played in 2012 between the Indians and Blue Jays ending with the Blue Jays beating the Indians, 7–4, in 16 innings. (It took 5:14.) The previous record for longest Opening Day game was in 1960 lasting 15 innings (4:54), which also saw the Indians in a losing effort, 4–2, vs. the Tigers. Recall from above Walter Johnson’s 15-inning shutout in 1926 that only took 2:33 to play.
  16. The first interleague game on Opening Day was in 2013 between the Angels and the Reds.  The Angels won 4-3 in 13 innings.

I knew exactly one of those Opening Day facts listed above before receiving my email yesterday – – the one about Hank Aaron’s 714th homerun.  Sincere thanks to the “reader in Houston” for this enlightenment.

Moving on …  Earlier this week, I said that this year’s March Madness had not been nearly as compelling as tournaments in the past.  The weekend when the field is cut from the Sweet 16 to the Final Four is almost always the best mix of quality and quantity of games.  There are more games in the previous weekend but too many of them are always mismatches and the Final Four weekend is always great – – but there are only 3 games.  Last night the first part of “Sweet 16 Weekend” did not disappoint.  Yes, the UConn game was a blowout, but the defensive tenacity of the Huskies was interesting to watch.  The other three games were thrillers:

  • Clemson was a 7.5-point underdog against Arizona, but Clemson led for much of the game and were simply the better team on the court last night.  The Tigers move on with a 77-72 victory.
  • Alabama was a 5-point underdog to UNC last night.  Alabama’s defense looked to be overmatched against UNC, but Alabama went toe-to-toe with the bigger Tar Heels and won the game 89-87.
  • Illinois was a 3-point underdog to Iowa St. last night.  Terrence Shannon and Curtis Jones each put on a show last night, but Shannon and his Illinois teammates prevailed 72-69.

The Saturday night tournament games are set:

  • UConn opened as a 7.5-point favorite over Illinois but that spread has expanded to 8.5 points very quickly.
  • Alabama is a 3-point favorite (3.5 points at one Internet sportsbook) over Clemson as of this morning.

Both games look interesting to me.

Finally, this is a time for sports fans to be happy – – baseball has begun and it is Sweet-16 Weekend.  So, let me close with this view of happiness from psychiatrist Thomas Szasz:

“Happiness is an imaginary condition, formerly attributed by the living to the dead, now usually attributed by adults to children and by children to adults.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “Everything There Is To Know About Opening Day”

  1. The Reader in Houston (“RIH” is a treasure – always adds factual supplements to this treasure of a column, and often great insights, as well. Thank you.

    Wayne in Philly (“WIP” like the sports radio station)

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