MLB: Greatest Opening Day Moments
Major League Baseball opening day can never be described as boring. Records are set, others are broken. Legends are born and moments of magic arise. To mark the start of the 2018 season, take a look back at some of the greatest opening day moments in history.
Babe Ruth was one of the original legends of MLB opening day
April 18th, 1923
The original Yankee stadium has always, and will always, be coined ‘The House that Ruth Built’. Babe Ruth possessed an undeniable flare. The quintessential, old school New York Yankees player.
Thus, it was rather fitting that the first ever home run hit in the original stadium belonged to #3. His three-run shot soared above the heads of Red Sox players, eventually landing in the right field bleachers.
The Yankees would go on to win that opening game. Meanwhile, Ruth would end his career with a total of 714 home runs – 259 of which would be run in at ‘his house’.
April 16th, 1940
Some records are made to be broken, whilst others really do stand the test of time.
In the first baseball season of the 1940s, Bob Feller set one of the latter. Pitching for the Cleveland Indians he managed to score the only ever opening day no hitter (one of three no hitter games in his 16-year career).
On that early April day, he made one run stand, holding the Chicago White Sox hitless – he allowed five walks and struck out eight.
The game would end with his Indians topping the White Sox 1-0.
April 15th, 1947
It was inconceivable in the years preceding it. It was revolutionary when it occurred. It has become an integral part of major league baseball history in the modern era.
For on this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson, at the age of 28 and wearing the now infamous #42, would become the first African American man to play professional baseball.
He would step up to first base, and though he went hitless (0-for-3), that would not matter, for his influence would last forever.
Testament to his importance is his Hall of Fame induction, and the fact that the #42 jersey was permanently retired from MLB in 1997.
April 4th, 1974
It is a terrific achievement when someone breaks a long-standing record – especially when said record was set by the previously mentioned legend, Babe Ruth.
Hank Aaron must have thought so as he equaled Ruth’s 714 home runs record on opening day 1974. Not only that, but he did it on his first swing of the season, in the top of the first inning.
His hit would prove to be a three-run home run, as well. Ultimately, his Hall of Fame career would continue for a further two years, and would finish with a further 41 home runs, leaving him with a total of 755.
April 2nd, 1996
There was one name screamed from the rooftops of Yankee Stadium on this day. One major league debut for one very special player, made memorable by two impressive shows of promise.
It was Dennis Martinez that pitched for Derek Jeter’s first home run for the Yankees.
This game would also be remembered for the image of Jeter’s vault to catch the ball, over his shoulder no less.
In the end, the Yankees would steamroll the Cleveland Indians in a 7-1 win, whilst Jeter would go on to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award that season. The rest is history.
April 5th, 2012
This game was less the lasting memory of an individual, but rather the will power of both teams.
The Cleveland Indians met the Toronto Blue Jays at home in what would go down in the record books as the longest MLB opening day game in history.
The teams battled through 16 innings before Toronto defeated the home side 7-4.
March 29th, 2018
It was reminiscent of a young Jeter when Giancarlo Stanton stepped up to the plate this year, introducing himself to the Yankees fans in style.
In the first inning, his first at bat, he produced a two-run home run. Whilst in the ninth inning he rounded things off with a bang, hitting another home run. Welcome indeed.
This impressive performance along with Brett Gardner’s home run, saw the Yankees start as they seem intent to go on, charting a 6-1 victory in Toronto.
The only thing that possibly ruined the awe of Stanton’s moment was longtime Yankees announcer John Sterling’s rather puzzling personalized home run call for Stanton.
It was in Italian. Stanton is not Italian, neither is Sterling. Twitter went nuts. Nobody could figure out the meaning, even Google translate struggled to find the proper meaning in English.
However, since Sterling has stated he has no plans to change it, we may be hearing it a lot this season. “Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo!”
March 29th, 2018
Matt Davidson also made quite a point, albeit for a team he’s played for since 2016. He made his point with a bang.
His last season was deemed to be a slump, as he delivered many a poor performance. So much so, his career with the Chicago White Sox was becoming uncertain. This was all but forgotten come opening day.
Throughout the off-season he had studiously analysed video and honed his swinging mechanics. All of his preparation certainly paid off as he became only the fourth player in MLB history to hit three homers on opening day.
His White Sox would go on to defeat the Royals in a 14-7 game, whilst Davidson joined the likes of Tiger’s Dmitri Young (in 2005), Cub’s Tuffy Rhodes (in 1994) and Blue Jay’s George Bell (in 1988) in the record books.
The ‘Core Four’ defined a generation of Yankees players
(From left to right: Posada, Rivera, Jeter and Pettitte)
April 7th, 2014
2014 marked Derek Jeter’s 20th season, and his last in MLB. The golden boy of a Yankees generation was going to be leaving the game that loved him so.
So, it was rather fitting that on that year’s opening day, Yankee Stadium was witness to the reunion of the team’s beloved ‘Core Four’. Four men who led their team to five World Series titles.
They walked out together, as they had done so many times before, before splitting into twos. Jeter would catch Mariano Rivera’s pitch, whilst Jorge Posada would catch Andy Pettitte’s.
These men represented a Yankees dynasty. Jeter, the Yankees all-time hits leader. Rivera, a highly renowned closer – the special weapon to end any game. Posada, deemed by many to be the greatest catcher to represent the New York side. Pettitte, the master of the steely-eyed stare down and a solid starting pitcher who laid solid game foundations.
By August 2017, the Yankees would have retired all of their jerseys. Quite rightfully, never again, will a Yankee wear: #2, #42, #20 or #46.
March 29th, 2018
Chicago Cub’s player Anthony Rizzo hit, quite possibly, one of the most meaningful home runs of the season, in the second inning of their game against the Miami Marlins.
This is because Rizzo is a former pupil of Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School, where recently, 17 students were killed in a mass shooting.
Rizzo would later describe the feeling of that home run as an: “out-of-body experience”. Eventually saying that he really didn’t know if he could put it in to words.
Prior to the game, both teams wore #MSDStrong t-shirts, whilst they also wore patches on their game uniforms which showed 17 stars on the outside.