The professional baseball season has finally arrived. Opening Day is tomorrow! Those dark months of winter are behind us and spring is here bringing new hopes and dreams for our favorite ballplayers and ball clubs. For the baseball player and fan alike, opening day is a favorite national holiday. When we head out to the ballpark and …wait! Isn’t opening day a national holiday? It’s not? Why the heck not? It’s the American pastime, with the tradition, the pageantry, the spectacle, opening day has it all. Well, not to worry. We celebrate opening day every year here at The Hardball Network. So, to kick off your season with a little bit of knowledge here are 9 Opening Day facts you probably already knew or didn’t.
Presidential First Pitches
On April 14, 1910, William Howard Taft became the first President to throw out a ceremonial first pitch on opening day. Taft tossed a one bouncer to baseball legend and Hall of Famer, Walter Johnson just before the Philadelphia Athletics took on the Washington Senators at National Park in Washington D.C. It has now become custom and one of baseball’s greatest traditions for acting presidents to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. In fact, the tradition has lasted over 100 years, with only Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump being the only two presidents to refuse the honor from Major League Baseball. Needless to say, Taft’s pitch is one of our favorite presidential moments in baseball history.
The House That “Ruth” Built
On April 18, 1923, Yankee Stadium opened its doors for the first time to Yankee fans. It was only fitting that Babe Ruth hit a home run on the first opening day in the Yankees new stadium against the team he used to pitch for, the Boston Red Sox. Yankee Stadium would soon come to be known as the house that “Ruth” Built and the Red Sox, well, they will forever be known as the team that let the “Bambino” get away.
An Opening Day No-Hitter
It was April 16, 1940, and Cleveland Indians ace Bob Feller had done what no other pitcher in baseball history had done before or has done since. It just doesn’t get done. He threw a no-hitter on opening day against the Chicago White Sox at Comisky Park. Feller went the full nine innings striking out eight White Sox on his way to a 1-0 win and history.
Some Things Are Bigger Than Baseball
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. Robison made his debut at Brooklyn’s legendary Ebbett’s Field in front of 25,000 fans. Although Robinson went 0-3 versus the Boston Braves that day he would go on to be an inspiration for millions. In fact, Robinson would go on to win the first-ever Rookie of the Year Award that season, help bring Brooklyn its first world championship just a few seasons later, be inducted into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame at the end of his career, and have his number 42 retired by all of baseball in 1997. It can all be traced back to April 15, 1947.
Hank Aaron ties the Babe
On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714 against the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium, Aaron’s blast tied him with Babe Ruth atop Major League Baseball’s leaderboard for home runs. Aaron was mobbed by his teammates and received a standing ovation from the Cincinnati fans as he crossed home plate. Aaron would break Ruth’s record just a few days later crowning himself as the home run king of Major League Baseball.
On, April 9, 1985, Tom Seaver made his 16th and final opening day start as the White Sox took on the Milwaukee Brewers. Seaver took the win going 6.2 innings while striking out 3. Pitching for the Mets, Reds, and White Sox, Seaver would go on compiling a 3.13 ERA on opening day as well as earn rookie of the year honors and 3 Cy Young awards during those seasons.
Dunn Ties The Record With 8
On April 6, 2012, Adam Dunn launched a home run off of Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis which tied Dunn with Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey Jr as the only players to hit eight opening day home runs in their careers. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Eddie Mathews each have seven. Not bad company considering they are all in the Hall of Fame. Dunn would finish his career with 462 big flys.
A Legend Has Arrived
On Opening Day 1996, Derek Jeter hit his first career home run off Dennis Martinez as the New York Yankees took on the Cleveland Indians at Jacob’s Field. Jeter’s blast was just the start of what would become a legendary career. Jeter would go on to become rookie of the year in 96′ as well as a world series champion. Jeter was just starting, though. He would win 4 more world series trophies over his career, collect 3000 hits, become the Yankees all-time hits leader, have his number retired by the Yankees in 2017, and will forever be known as one of the most clutch baseball players to have ever suited up.
MadBum Makes Opening Day History As a Hitter
On April 2, 2017, Madison Bumgarner made history becoming the first pitcher to belt two home runs in one game on opening day. Bumgarner hit the first of the day off of Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke in the fifth inning, then followed with a shot off of reliever Andrew Chafin. Both blasts were no doubters. Ok, yes we’ll admit it. We really want to see Bumgarner in the home run derby!
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