The red-letter day ~
1988: Claudell Washington hits the 10,000th home run in Yankee history and Jack Clark hits his first AL home run in the top of the 10th inning to give New York a 7-6 win over Minnesota. The Yankees are the first major league club to hit 10,000 homers.
On other 20ths of April…
2012: The Red Sox celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park by inviting 200 former players and coaches, from Don Aase to Bob Zupcic, to come on the field for pre-game celebrations. In the game that follows (in which both teams wear 1912 throwback uniforms), however, the visiting Yankees spoil the party by hitting five homers, including two by Eric Chavez, on their way to a 6-2 win. For Ivan Nova, it is his 15th consecutive victory, dating back to last season.
2006: According to Forbes magazine, the New York Yankees are the 1st baseball team valued at more than $1 billion.
2003: The Yankees defeat Minnesota 8-2. The win gives New York starting pitchers a 13-0 record, the best mark by any starting staff at the beginning of the season since 1900.
1964: Yankee rookie Bob Meyer makes his major league debut at Fenway Park in a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox. Meyer is the last Yankee rookie pitcher this century to open his career in Boston. Ralph Terry made his debut there in 1956.
1961: Don Mattingly is born. Happy 53rd to Donnie Baseball!
After becoming a regular in 1984, Mattingly established himself as one of the preeminent stars of the 1980s. He hit for average and power, fielded his position at first base with brilliance, and displayed a work ethic and charisma reminiscent of Yankee greats of the past. Actually, his home run power developed after his arrival in the majors, but he went on to set a couple impressive HR records in 1986.
In 1982 Mattingly joined a Yankee team that was reluctant to play kids from its farm system, preferring to trade them for proven players or let them languish on the bench as insurance against injury to regulars. Mattingly saw limited action through 1983, playing primarily in the outfield, the position at which the Yankees originally drafted him. Although his career minor league batting average was .332, there was little in Mattingly’s minor league performance to indicate that he might emerge as a power hitter. However, Mattingly used those first two years in the majors to become a smart two strike hitter and learned to look for the inside pitch that he might drive into Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch. The result was his fine 1984 season, in which he took over the first-base job and hit 23 homers en route to capturing the batting title on the last day of the season with a .343 average that edged teammate Dave Winfield’s .340. He became the first Yankee lefthanded hitter to bat over .340 since Lou Gehrig hit .351 in 1937.
Despite often starting the season abysmally, Mattingly established himself as a dominant hitter from 1984 through 1989. In each of those seasons, he hit over .300, collected more than 186 hits, and, except for 1988, drove in 100 or more runs. During that period, no major league player had more RBI than his 684, and only Wade Boggs (1,269) had more hits than Matingly’s 1,219. Mattingly displayed his power in 1985 when, batting third in the Yankee lineup, he amassed career highs of 35 home runs and a league-leading 145 RBI en route to being named AL MVP.
In 1986 Mattingly set new Yankees marks for doubles (53) and hits (238) in a season, becoming the first Yankee since Lou Gehrig with three consecutive 200 hit seasons. During the 1987 season, Mattingly set or tied five remarkable major league records. He hit six grand slams to set a new single-season mark. (He had never hit one prior to 1987.) He tied Dale Long’s 1956 record by homering in eight consecutive games from July 8 through July 18. His 10 homers during that period were a major league record for total homers in an eight game streak, and his concurrent streak of 10 games with at least one extra base hit broke babe Ruth’s 1921 AL record. The power streak ended on July 20, the night Mattingly tied the major league record of 22 putouts by a first baseman in a nine inning game.
Mattingly matched his hitting with outstanding defense. From 1985 through 1989, he won five consecutive Gold Glove awards at first base. Along with Chick Gandil (1916-1919), Mattingly (1984-1987) holds the record of leading AL first basemen in fielding percentage for four consecutive years. On his retirement his .996 lifetime fielding percentage at first base tied him for the all-time lead. His skills allowed him to play second base and third base on a few occasions despite throwing lefthanded.
From 1990 on, back problems led to a decline in Mattingly’s batting performance as he adjusted his stance to compensate. His season HR high in the ’90s was 17 in 1993, one of only two seasons in double figures in that time, and only in the 1994 strike season did he top .300 in batting average. His fielding prowess usually did not suffer, however; his fielding percentages actually got higher, and he led the AL three straight years (1992-94). He spent time on the DL in 1990, ’93, and ’94, but was so firmly ensconced as a team leader that it was not until after the 1995 season that he was replaced at first base by the Yankees’ acquisition of Tino Martinez, whereupon Mattingly unofficially retired. He had, at least, finally reached postseason play, hitting well in the Yankees’ losing effort that year against Seattle in the division playoffs.
In January 1997 Mattingly officially announced his retirement from baseball, having decided that his back problems would not let him make a comeback. At that time the Yankees announced that his number 23 would be retired, with a ceremony to take place during the 1997 season. Yankee owner George Steinbrenn called vociferously for Mattingly’s election to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible, a move widely perceived as an attempt to deflect criticism for the way the team handled the ending of Mattingly’s career.
1956: In the Yankees’ home opener, Mickey Mantle clouts a three run homer and Whitey Ford goes the distance, allowing 5 Red Sox hits. New York win 7-1.
1945: In the delayed presidential opener in Washington, tribute is paid to the late FDR before House Speaker Sam Rayburn tosses out the first ball.
The Yankees win their fourth straight, pounding 3 Nats pitchers for a 6-3 win.
1939: The Red Sox show off their prize rookie Ted Williams before 30,278 in the opener in New York, delayed two days because of rain. After striking out twice, Williams collects a double off Red Ruffing, who wins 2-0. Gehrig makes an error, goes hitless, and lines into two double plays in the only game featuring the two greats. Other future Hall of Famers in what will become an historic box score include Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Red Rolfe, and losing pitcher Lefty Grove. The Yanks score their first run on a homer by Dickey and their second tally on an error by Foxx. Boston have baserunners in each inning, but Ruffing tosses just the second opening day shut out in Yankee history. Four umpires work the game including third base arbiter George Pipgras, the starting pitcher for the Yankees in the 1929 Opener; his opponent for the Red Sox that day was Red Ruffing.
1932: The Yankees draw the largest paid attendance ~ 55, 452 ~ for any home opener. (Their ‘announced’ attendance, however, when the stadium opened in 1923 was 74,217). Babe Ruth homers, as Lefty Gomez beats Lefty Grove and the Yanks defeat the Athletics 8-3.
1930: In today’s issue of the Chicago Tribune, writer Irwin Howe names his all-time all-star team based on his 42 years of observing baseball, with Babe Ruth in right field.
1926: The Yankees batter Washington 18-5. Among their 22 hits are a home run, 2 doubles, and 2 singles by Babe Ruth, who scores 5 runs and drives in 8. The Babe’s home run is a 2-run shot in the first inning off Walter Johnson.
Rookie Bill Morrell debuts in relief for the Senators and this is noteworthy only because contemporary accounts list his age at 26, and his birth year as 1900. In fact, Morrell was born in 1893, making him off by seven years, a possible ML record. Later encyclopedias will carry his correct birth date.
1924: In Washington, Walter Johnson picks up an easy 12-3 win over the Yankees. Babe Ruth scores 2 of the New York runs on a triple and an 8th inning home run.
1912: The New York Highlanders provide the opposition as the Boston Red Sox play the first game in the history of Fenway Park. The Sox christen their new park with an 11-inning, 7-6 victory over the visitors.
2012: Curtis Granderson has the first three-homer game of his career, and the first of this major league season, as the Yankees defeat the Twins 7 – 6. Granderson homers in his first three at-bats, then collects a pair of singles, to help New York overcome a 4-run 1st inning by Minnesota. Phil Hughes is credited with his first win of the year and Marx Teixera also homers for the Bronx Bombers.
2011: Mariano Rivera is charged with a rare blown save, allowing the Blue Jays a 6 – 5 comeback win at the Rogers Centre. After homers by Mark Teixera and Curtis Granderson turn an early 2 – 2 tie into a 5 – 3 Yankees lead, Yunel Escobar leads off the bottom of the 9th with a double off the legendary closer, who already has seven saves this year. A wild pitch on a walk to Jose Bautista and a perfectly-executed dqueeze bunt by John McDonald tie the game at 5 all. In the 10th, Travis Snider doubles home the winning run against Ivan Nova, pressed into the game as the Yankees’ bullpen is depleted; Snider had gone 0 for 5 on the day and had snapped a bat into pieces in frustration after striking out with the bases loaded to end the 6th inning.
2002: Deja vu all over again?… Mariano Rivera makes yet another error on an attempted sacrifice bunt in the 9th, much like the errant throw he had made in the infamous (to Yankee fans) final inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. But this game, a Stadium affair, has a happier ending, and Mo gets the win, as Alfonso Soriano drives home Gerald Williams with the walkoff base hit in the bottom of the ninth in the 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays.
2001: The Yankees defeat the Blue Jays‚ 6-5‚ in 17 innings and almost 6 hours. Six relievers pitch 11 scoreless innings before Chuck Knoblauch walks and Jeter singles him to second. O’Neill’s 4th hit of the game finally ends it. Both teams total 14 pitchers‚ who throw 538 pitches (336 Ks) and strand 35 runners.
1979: Following a 6-3 loss to the Orioles‚ Goose Gossage and Cliff Johnson brawl in the Yankee clubhouse. Gossage sustains a sprained ligament in his left thumb‚ and will be sidelined until July 12th. After the fight‚ Reggie Jackson predicts that Cliff Johnson’s days as a Yankee are numbered. He is proved correct when Johnson is traded to Cleveland on June 15th for Don Hood.
1974: In action against the Orioles at Baltimore’s memorial Stadium, the Yankees lose 5-3 to the orioles. The key blow for the hosts is Al Bumbry’s 5th inning, two-run, inside-the-park homer off loser Steve Kline.
Off the field, the Yankees obtain Walt ‘No Neck’ Williams and pitchers Ed Farmer and Rick Sawyer from the Tigers for catcher Gerry Moses. Moses had come to New York in the Graig Nettles trade.
1973: New Yankee owner George Steinbrenner replaces Mike Burke with Gabe Paul as General Manager.
1964: Scott Kamieniecki is born.
In a relief appearance against the Orioles at Camden Yards in 1996, his final year with the Yankees, he achieved the unusual feat of retiring the side 1-2-3 despite falling behind all three batters with a 3-0 count. Happy birthday, SK!
1962: Mickey Mantle’s homer in the fourth off Chuck Estrada jumpstarts the Yanks to a 3-1 win over the Orioles.
1960: On Patriots’ Day (editor’s note: for the anniversary of the beginning of the American revolution, not the football team) at Fenway Park‚ Roger Maris makes his debut with the Yankees a smash as he goes 4-for-5‚ including 2 home runs‚ and drives in 4 runs. The Yanks spoil Boston’s Opener with an 8-4 win as Jim Coates goes all the way for New York. Tom Brewer is the loser. Red Sox catcher Haywood Sullivan has his first Major League hit after 5 seasons and 16 at bats. Mayor John Collins‚ wheel-chair bound because of polio‚ tosses out the first ball
1954: On Patriots’ Day in Boston‚ the Yankees sweep a doubleheader from the Red Sox. Boston win the morning game‚ 2-1‚ on Willard Nixon’s five-hitter. In the afternoon game‚ the Yankees top Mel Parnell 5-0 behind Jim McDonald‚ as Mickey Mantle belts his first homer of the year.
1953: In the second game of a doubleheader, Alex Kellner of the A’s blanks the Yankees‚ 3-0 on 2 hits. Kellner shut out the Bombers on Opening Day and is the first pitcher to shutout New York on consecutive starts since Schoolboy Rowe in 1934.
1949: At pregame ceremonies marking the season opener with the Senators at the Stadium‚ a granite monument to Babe Ruth‚ who died on August 16‚ 1948‚ is unveiled in center field. Plaques honoring Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins are also presented. Mrs. Babe Ruth‚ Mayor William O’Dwyer‚ Governor Thomas E. Dewey‚ and the current baseball team from St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore are at the game. Gary Simpson‚ the St. Mary’s captain‚ throws out the first ball.
The Yanks‚ who went just 13-14-1 in spring training‚ tie it at 2-2 in the 7th on Yogi Berra’s 2-out pinch single. New York win 3-2 when Tommy Henrich hits a dramatic 9th inning two-out homer off starter Sid Hudson. Henrich will hit another one out in tomorrow’s 3-0 win. Ed Lopat gives up 8 hits – three by Gil Coan – in going the distance for New York. Gene Woodling‚ the PCL’s leading hitter in 1948 with a .385 average‚ plays center field in place of the injured Joe DiMaggio.
1948: At Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C.‚ President Harry Truman tosses out the first ball.
Fans might have thought Truman had stayed on the mound as the Yankees bat around in the opening inning against Nats starter Early Wynn. The second man up‚ Tommy Henrich‚ belts a two run homer‚ and a few batters later Allie Reynolds hits his first major league homer‚ a three run shot‚ that makes the score 7-0. Wynn gives up 16 hits and all 12 runs before leaving in the 9th for Ramon Garcia. Reynolds wins 12-4‚ allowing 11 hits‚ four by Leon Culberson. The Yanks like what they see in Culberson‚ acquiring the first baseman on May 13th‚ but he will never play another game in the majors.
1946: The Yankees open at home on Good Friday‚ a perceived conflict that is vociferously protested by the New York chapter of the Catholic War Veterans. Because of their objections, Mayor William O’Dwyer (a Dodger fan) passes up the honor of throwing out the first ball. A WW II Medal of Honor winner substitutes‚ and Joe Page and the Yanks beat Washington‚ 7-6.
Today also marks the first public unveiling of the Stadium’s new lights (though the House That Ruth Built will not see its first night game until next month) as well as the switching of the home team’s dugout from the third- to the first-base side, and a corresponding change for the visitors’.
1928: The Yankees are out of first place for the first time since May 1926 when they lose‚ 7-6‚ the morning Patriots’ Day game in Boston. Boston have just one hit in 5 innings off Al Sheeley but the Sox overcome a 6-0 deficit to win. Pat Collins homers for the Sox‚ with Slim Harriss picking up the relief win over Cy Moore. Behind Herb Pennock‚ New York take the nitecap‚ 7-2‚ in a game rained out after 6 innings.
Hooks Wiltse is the losing pitcher, Ken Williams and Babe Ruth exchanging homers.
1919: In the annual Patriots’ Day twinbill in Boston, new Red Sox pitcher Joe Bush debuts with a 2-1 four-hit win over the Yankees’ saliva slinger Allan Russell in the a.m. game. The Red Sox (5-0) complete the sweep in the afternoon with a 9-5 win behind Babe Ruth’s pitching. Ruth further contributes a single and a long sacrifice fly to right that scores Everett Scott from second after the Frank Gilhooley catch. The Yankees help with six errors in the game, three by Del Pratt (below), who offsets them with four hits.
The red-letter days ~
1929: At the Stadium, the Yankees take the field with uniform numbers for the first time. The numbers are assigned according to the player’s spot in the batting order: Combs‚ 1; Koenig‚ 2; Ruth‚ 3; Gehrig‚ 4; Meusel‚ 5; Lazzeri 6; Durocher 7; Grabowski‚ 8.
After two cancellations of their season start, the Yankees open against the Red Sox before 40‚000 at the Stadium‚ winning 7-3. Judge Landis presents diamond-studded watches to the New York players in honour of their championship season in 1928. New York starter George Pipgras allows just 3 hits in 5 1/3 innings‚ but walks 9. Reliever Fred Heimach then pitches hitless ball to preserve the win. In his first at bat against Boston’s Red Ruffing‚ the newly wed Babe Ruth hits a homer and as he rounds 2nd base‚ he doffs his cap to his bride Claire in the stands. Gehrig adds a round tripper in the 6th‚ off Milt Gaston. The win goes to George Pipgras (# 14)‚ with Fred Heimach (#17) picking up the save.
1923: On a balmy spring day‚ the debut of Yankee Stadium I is a huge success, with an announced attendance of 74‚217. Another 25‚000 are turned away. Police arrest two scalpers: one man for trying to sell a $1.10 grandstand ticket for $1.25‚ while another tries to get $1.50. Governor Al Smith throws out the first ball. Bob Shawkey‚ aided by Babe Ruth’s 3-run homer (the venue’s first) in the 3rd inning‚ beats Howard Ehmke and the Red Sox 4-1. Ruth also makes the Stadium’s first error. Shawkey allows 3 hits‚ including an RBI triple in the 7th by former Yank Norm McMillan.
On other 18ths of April…
2010: The Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 at the Stadium behind the four-hit, eight-inning pitching of Andy Pettitte and home runs by Mark Teixera and Jorge Posada. Recovering from a bout with cancer, longtime Yankee trainer Gene Monahan throws out the first pitch.
2009: Getting the ball against Cleveland at the new Stadium, Chien-Ming Wang’s problems with injuries and shoulder weakness become apparent from the start of the second inning, and rather than stretch an already spent bullpen, Joe Girardi replaces him him eight runs into the frame with newly promoted (that very day) Anthony Claggett. Somehow surviving the 14-run inning, the rookie right-hander will eventually be charged with eight runs of his own, and the home team fall 22-4.
2005: The Yankees score an AL record-tying (for the inning) 13 runs in the 2nd frame on their way to a 19-8 thrashing of the Devil Rays. Alex Rodriguez leads the 20-hit barrage with 5 safeties‚ including 2 doubles and a pair of HRs‚ and 6 RBI. He scores 5 runs. Tino Martinez also drives home 6 runs for NY. The last time the Yankees scored 13 runs in an inning was in 1945; the team record of 14 in an inning was set in 1920 against the Senators.
After the game, Yankee reliever Tanyon Sturtze is placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle. Injuries will plague the hurler for the remainder of his tenure with the team.
2003: The Yankees beat the Twins‚ 11-4, as Roger Clemens goes 6 innings before giving way to the bullpen. New York starting pitchers have a combined 11-0 record‚ tying the 1990 Milwaukee Brewers for the best start by a rotation in the last 50 years.
1998: The Yankees set a team record for the longest win streak in Detroit as they win their 12th straight‚ beating the Tigers‚ 8-3. It is their 8th straight win overall and David Cone’s first of the year. Greg Keagle takes the loss. The Tigers will beat the Yanks tomorrow‚ 2-1.
1959: ’80s Yankee lefty Dennis Rasmussen is born. Happy 55th, D.R.!
1955: Mickey Mantle’s 2-run homer in the 3rd off Harry Byrd provides all the scoring Whitey Ford needs‚ as the lefty tosses a 3-hitter against the Orioles. New York top the O’s‚ 6-0.
1953: Harry Niles, starting second baseman for the 1908 Highlanders (the first of four Yankee teams to finish in last place, and the first to lose 100 or more games), dies at the age of 72.
1951: Southpaw Eddie Lopat 2-hits the Red Sox‚ as the Yankees win, 6-1.
1950: At Fenway‚ Happy Chandler gives Ted Williams his MVP Award‚ and then Governor Paul Dever tosses out the first ball. To the delight of 31‚822 fans‚ Boston rip Yankee starter Allie Reynolds with a five-run 4th inning to drive the Chief from the game and take a 9-0 lead. But the Yanks answer with four in the 6th off Mel Parnell and then‚ down 10-4‚ New York unload for nine runs in the 8th. Billy Martin (2-for-2) becomes the first player in history to get two base hits in one inning in his major league debut. He doubles against Mel Parnell on his first at bat in the 8th‚ and singles off Al Papai. Walt Masterson gives up Tommy Henrich’s 2nd triple of the game before giving way to four more Sox hurlers. Boo Ferriss‚ pitching in his last game‚ allows the last two runs in the 9th inning as the Yanks chalk up a 15-10 win. The game marks the biggest lead the Sox have ever blown at Fenway to date (on June 4‚ 1989‚ they’ll blow a 10-run lead at home). Joe DiMaggio‚ Yogi Berra‚ Vern Stephens‚ and Bobby Doerr each have three hits. Don Johnson is the winner‚ his last one for New York‚ with Joe Page pitching a perfect 8th and 9th in relief.
1948: Yankee Stadium I accommodates its largest crowd ever for an exhibition game, as 62,369 fans watch the Dodgers edge the home side 5-3.
1944: At Fenway Park‚ Hank Borowy of the Yankees shuts out the Red Sox 3-0 on five hits‚ as New York’s Johnny Lindell hits the first home run of 1944‚ an opposite field shot in the 2nd inning. Lance ‘Yank’ Terry allows 7 hits in 7 innings to take the loss for Boston.
1938: At Fenway Park‚ Boston’s Jim Bagby‚ Jr. becomes the 7th pitcher this century to make his ML debut as an Opening Day starter.
Bagby gives up 4 runs to the Yankees in 6 innings of work‚ leaving with a 4-2 deficit. But in the bottom of the 6th‚ the Sox pound Red Ruffing and reliever Joe Vance for six runs‚ all charged to Red‚ to win‚ 8-4. Bagby is given the win‚ with Ruffing the loser. Archie McKain pitches the last 3 innings allowing just one Yankee hit. Ben Chapman has the game’s only homer in the 2nd inning.
1909: In an exhibition game between the New York Highlanders and the Jersey City Skeeters‚ the 2 teams are concerned about violating the Sunday ‘Blue Laws’. Worried about arrests‚ the Jersey management pass out cards to spectators asking them to keep quiet.
1951: Mickey Mantle makes his Yankee debut. Bob Sheppard also makes his debut as the public address announcer at the Stadium, and will not miss an opener at the venue until 2006.
Rain had cancelled yesterday’s presidential opener in Washington‚ washing out the debut of rookie Tom Morgan. Morgan would have been the first Yankee rookie ever to start an opener. Clad in an army uniform‚ Whitey Ford tosses out the first pitch today at the Stadium‚ and Vic Raschi scatters six singles to shut out the Red Sox‚ 5-0. Bill Wight gives up all the Yankee runs‚ including a two-run homer to Jackie Jensen in the 3rd inning. Mantle‚ playing his first regular season game, before a crowd of 44‚860‚ has one hit and scores a run.
On other 17ths of April:
2010: The Yanks jumped on Texas right-hander Scott Feldman for seven early runs, and hold on to beat the visitors 7-3 despite an 8th inning Nelson Cruz home run off Alfredo Aceves. Jorge Posada’s 3rd inning eighth-inning leadoff single to spark a four-run rally climaxed by a Derek HJeter home run is the 1,500th hit of the Yankee catcher’s career. Also, Robinson Cano has his Major League record hitting streak of 27 straight games in April snapped.
2009: The Yankees win their first game in the new Stadium with a 6-5 come from behind win over the Indians. After Joba Chamberlain fails to get out of the 5th, Brian Bruney gets the win with a scoreless 7th. Derek Jeter contributes the go-ahead run in the bottom of the frame with a solo homer. As is his occasional wont, Mariano Rivera does things the hard way in the 9th, giving up two consecutive singles, but then bears down to strike out the final two Tribe batters.
1965: In Kansas City‚ the Yanks top the A’s‚ 5-2‚ with all of New York’s scoring coming via home runs. With NY ahead‚ 2-1‚ in the 8th‚ Roger Maris walks and Mickey Mantle follows with his 1st homer of the year.
1961: At the Stadium‚ 1‚947 fans brave a freezing rain to watch Whitey Ford shut out Kansas City‚ 3-0. Mickey Mantle drives in all 3 Yankee runs‚ including a solo shot off Jerry Walker in the first inning.
1957: At the Stadium‚ Mickey Mantle leads New York to a 3-1 win over the Red Sox. Mantle hits his first homer of the year‚ off Tom Brewer. Then when Pete Daley lines a ball off the wall in left center‚ Mantle plays the carom perfectly and throws the runner out at second.
1956: President Eisenhower throws out the first ball in Washington - actually two balls‚ both replicas of Spalding’s 1876 ball – and the Yanks and Senators each hit 3 home runs, the only time this has happened on Opening Day. Hitting from the left side, Mickey Mantle has 2 tape measure blasts of over 500 feet to dead center off Camilo Pascual‚ as the Yanks win easily 10-4. Yogi Berra goes 4-for-4 with a double and homer and 5 RBIs to ease the way for winner Don Larsen. Pascual takes the loss. Karl Olson has two homers for Washington (the only time in history a Senator went deep twice on opening day)‚ and rookie Dick Tettelbach hits another‚ his only major league round tripper. All but Mantle take advantage of the new shortened dimensions of Griffith Stadium. For the third consecutive opener‚ President Dwight D. Eisenhower throws out the first ball and stays a full 9 innings.
1945: Steady rain holds the crowd at Yankee Stadium to 13‚923 as Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia throws out the first ball for the Opener against the Red Sox.
The Yanks’ lone score until the 7th inning is a homer by rookie Russ Derry in the 3rd off Rex Cecil. Meanwhile the Red Sox jump on Atley Donald for three runs in the 1st inning and another in the 7th on Ben Steiner’s solo homer. But helped by four Boston errors‚ and another homer by Russ Derry – this one a grand slam‚ New York push across seven runs in the 7th frame to finish the scoring at 8-4. Sox first baseman George Metkovich makes a ML record 3 errors in the inning on a missed tag‚ an errant throw‚ and a fumble. Forty-one-year old Jim Turner pitches the last two innings for New York.
1936: Lefty Grove and the Red Sox roll over the Yankees in the pinstripers’ home opener‚ 8-0. A shivering crowd of 22‚256 are on hand for the debacle. Grove pitches a masterful 2-hitter‚ with a pair of Lou Gehrig singles as the only safeties for the home side.
1934: At Shibe Park‚ a crowd of fewer than 10‚000 watch the A’s open against the Yankees. New York score first with two runs in the 5th inning off starter Merritt ‘Sugar’ Cain. The A’s take the lead in the 6th on Eric McNair’s two-run homer off Lefty Gomez into the upper deck in left‚ but the Yankees pull ahead 5-3 in the 8th. The A’s answer with one in the 8th‚ another in the 9th‚ and then‚ with two outs‚ a pinch single by Bing Miller provides the winning run. Rookie Joe Cascarella‚ a native Philadelphian‚ is the winner‚ while Harry Smythe is the losing pitcher.
Meanwhile, at the rebuilt Fenway Park‚ the Red Sox unveil the Green Monster‚ the 18-foot concrete wall that replaces “Duffy’s Cliff‚” the 10-foot-incline named after early Boston star Hugh Duffy. Gone are the wooden bleachers and wooden fences‚ and a warning track is in place for the outfielders. (Editor’s note – this is important in Yankee history because it gave Bucky Dent something to hit a home run over!)
1929: Babe Ruth and actress Claire Hodgson are married at 5 A.M. to avoid crowds. The Yankee home opener with the Red Sox is again rained out so the wedding party continues uninterrupted. It is the Bambino’s second marriage.
1927: At the Stadium, Lou Gehrig has 2 homers and a single to drive in 6 runs as the Yankees roll over the Red Sox‚ 14-2. Jack Tobin homers off winner Waite Hoyt.
1925: With the newspaper headlines continuing to blare ‘The bellyache heard round the world’‚ Babe Ruth undergoes surgery for an intestinal abscess.
1915: In a 9-1 Yankee win over Philadelphia‚ Fritz Maisel steals second, third, and home‚ though not in the same inning.
The Cleveland Indians will spoil the party, however, by administering a 10-2 drubbing to the hosts, including a 9-run 7th inning after the departure of C.C. Sabathia. Cliff Lee, who will return in another uniform to bedevil the Yanks in the World Series, gets the win, while
Damaso Marte takes the loss for the Bombers.
1984: Future blogger & podcaster, fervent Yankee fan, oil industry titan, graduate student and all-around goddess Hiba Thamer (@GoGetMyCoffee on Twitter) is born in the Bronx.
It’s always a comfort to know that she’s out there sharing with me the late-night airwaves that are the life of the displaced Yankee fan…
Happy birthday, Hibs!
1967: The Yankees play the longest regular season game in their history. At the Stadium, the Yanks and the Red Sox struggle for 18 innings before New York wins it‚ 7-6‚ in a game that lasts 5 hours and 50 minutes. Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro each have 5 hits for the Sox‚ but it is Joe Pepitone’s two-out single that beats Lee Stange. Al Downing is the winner.
On other 16ths of April…
2010: Boone Logan is recalled from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
2009: Newly injured right fielder Xavier Nady is placed on the 15-Day disabled list retroactive to April 15, with right elbow pain that will not effectively subside. To fill the opening on the roster, David Robertson is recalled from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, marking the beginning of a season when the young reliever moves from the lower reaches of the depth chart to the eventual status of reliable postseason performer.
2004: The Bombers get off to a rough start at Fenway, making two 1st inning errors to match the equally dubious pitching of Javier Vazquez, who gives up homers in the frame, to Bill Mueller and Manny Ramirez. Quickly up 4-0, the Red Sox roll to a 6-2 win.
1982: At Detroit‚ the Yankees Roy Smalley makes all three outs – in the 3rd inning as the Bombers score 5 times.
Smalley strikes out to start the frame‚ and ends it by lining into a double play. Ron Guidry coasts to his first win of the year‚ 10-2.
1977: Sparky Lyle will have a 13-5, 26-save Cy Young Award-winning season this year, but today is not one of his better days, as the reliever gives up a two-run game tying HR to Cecil Cooper at Milwaukee. A subsequent triple by Sal Bando and a walkoff single by Steve Brye put the game in the win column for the Brewers.
1972: With a rainout yesterday‚ the Orioles and Yankees decide to open the season in Baltimore with a doubleheader. But rain wipes out the nitecap and the O’s win the rain-shortened opener before just 11‚995 fans‚ 3-1. There is one out in the bottom of the 7th when the game is called. The O’s score an unearned run in the 2nd and Brooks Robinson knocks in two more to back Pat Dobson’s pitching. After a long rain delay‚ Doyle Alexander pitched the 7th for the O’s.
1964: At the Stadium‚ Whitey Ford pitches 11 innings in losing to the Red Sox‚ 4-3. Bob Tillman‚ with three singles‚ triples in the 11th‚ and pinch runner Roman Mejias scores on wild pitch. Mickey Heffner pitches the bottom of the 11th‚ with Dick Radatz getting the win.
1962: The Yankees release Robin Roberts‚ signed in the off-season. The Orioles will sign the veteran on May 21st.
1957: At the Stadium‚ Andy Carey’s bases-loaded fly ball single in the 9th gives the Yankees a 2-1 win over the Senators‚ as Whitey Ford bests Chuck Stobbs. Yogi Berra accounts for the other Yankee run with a 7th inning homer. The 0-2 Senators will lose 16 of their next 20.
1946: At Shibe Park‚ Spud Chandler‚ 38‚ allows just 5 hits as the Yankees beat the A’s‚ 5-0.
Chandler spent most of 1944-45 in the Army and appeared in just 5 games in two years. Joe DiMaggio has a two-run homer and Tommy Henrich a two-run double to pace the offense. A’s starter Russ Christopher allows all the runs in his six innings of work.
1945: Former Yankee bench player Chick Fewster dies at the age of 49. After being traded to the Red Sox, Fewster also got the first hit in Yankee Stadium history, a single on the ballpark’s inaugural day of April 18, 1923.
1944: Jack Hand of the Associated Press names the Yankees as the favourite to win the AL pennant. Like most observers‚ he picks the St. Louis Browns to finish last.
1940: Before 20‚187 at Shibe Park‚ Chubby Dean outlasts Red Ruffing as the A’s defeat the defending champion Yankees‚ 2-1‚ in ten innings.
It is Dean’s first complete game in the majors. New York’s only run is unearned in the 3rd inning‚ but the A’s tie it up on a Bob Johnson solo homer. Chubby Dean’s long sac fly in the 10th off Ruffing drives in the winning run.
1937: Joe DiMaggio‚ who has suffered from a lame throwing arm recently‚ has his tonsils and adenoids removed at Lenox Hill hospital. He will miss his second straight Opener.
1935: The Yankees open at the Stadium‚ losing 1-0‚ to the Red Sox. New York get just two hits off winning pitcher Wes Ferrell‚ but also make two throwing errors in the 6th inning‚ one by pitcher Lefty Gomez‚ to allow Bill Werber to score the game’s only run.
Before going on to the Yankees, let fans of every team in baseball take a moment to remember Jackie Robinson, who made his Major League debut on this day in 1947. Until his retirement t the end of last year, Mariano Rivera was the only player in the majors still wearing Jackie’s old no. 42.
…and now… the red-letter day -
1976: Newly remodeled Yankee Stadium is jammed with 52‚613 fans for Opening Day. The 1923 Yankee team are honored‚ and Bob Shawkey‚ winner of the ’23 Stadium opener‚ throws out the first ball. Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and the widows of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth also take part in pre-game ceremonies at the Stadium, which had been closed for the 1974 and ’75 seasons. The Yankees beat the Twins 11-4 on 14 hits‚ but the only home run is hit by Minnesota’s Dan Ford.
On other 15ths of April…
2011: Matt Harrison is helped by some clutch defense as the Rangers defeat the Yankees, 5 – 3, in New York. Harrison’s teammates tie an American League record by turning six double plays behind him, to move his record to 3-0 on the year; the pitcher starts two of the twin killings himself.
2010: Curtis Granderson triples in back-to-back innings in a 6-2 victory at the Stadium over t the Angels. Robninson Cano goes him one better, homering twice..Phil Hughes puts in 5 strong innings five for the win, Derek Jeter goes long, and has two base hits as well, while Marcus Thames makes himself known with two hits in the DH spot. The game is the fifth multi-triple affair in Granderson’s career.
2007: A regrettably familiar refrain sounds, as Carl Pavano is placed on the 15-day disabled list. Fellow righty starter Mike Mussina is also sidelined with hamstring miseries, so Chris Britton is recalled from AAA Scranton to (hopefully) take some of the unfilled innings.
1998: The first-ever interleague doubleheader ends up a good day for New York. The Yankees were forced to come to Shea Stadium after a beam fell into the stands at the Stadium on April 13. The Yanks earn their first victory in Queens in 22 years as they defeat the Angels 6-3. Former Mets star Darryl Strawberry, the all-time home run leader at Shea, adds to his total with a shot into the left field bleachers. In the regularly-scheduled night game, the Mets beat the Cubs 2-1. The Yankees, who played at Shea in 1974-75 while Yankee Stadium was renovated, drew a crowd of 40,743, a dramatic contrast to the gathering of 16,012 who showed up for the Mets game at night.
1980: The White Sox edge the Yankees‚ 4-3‚ in 14 innings‚ scoring the unearned run off Jim Kaat.
ich Wortham is the winner with 4.2 innings of work. The 2 teams strand 25 base runners.
1961: Nick Cullop, who posted an 18-15 record in 40 starts with the 1916-17 Yankees, dies at the age of 73.
1958: In the opener at Fenway Park‚ 35‚223 – the largest crowd ever for a Red Sox season inaugural – watch Don Larsen and the Yankees win‚ 3-0. Governor Foster Furcolo tosses out the first ball. Yogi Berra’s two run homer in the 7th is the first score for New York off Russ Nixon‚ and the catcher’s 4th successive opening day homer. This one is a 302-foot drive down the right field foul line.
1954: In a ceremony at the Stadium before the home opener with the Philadelphia A’s, the Yankees dedicated a plaque to former GM Ed Barrow, who was elected to the Hall of Fame the previous year. The former Red Sox field manager (who piloted the team to its last Word Series title in the 20th century) was responsible for the switch of Babe Ruth from the mound to everyday service in the outfield, raided his former club for stars like Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock, and was in the Yankee front office for the organization’s first 10 title seasons.
In the game that follows, Tom Morgan blanks the visitors 3-0.
1952: At Shibe Park‚ Hank Bauer and Mickey Mantle lead a 14-hit attack against Alex Kellner and Carl Scheib as the Yankees beat the A’s‚ 8-1. Vic Raschi allows two hits in 8 innings and wins his 2nd opener in a row. Bauer has two hits and a homer‚ while Mantle collects three hits‚ two RBIs‚ and a stolen base.
1947: With yesterday’s opener in Washington rained out‚ the A’s open at Yankee Stadium before 39‚344. Under new manager Bucky Harris (below)‚ the Yanks manage just six hits off Phil Marchildon as the A’s win‚ 6-1. Eddie Joost and Elmer Valo pull off a double steal in the 5th when the A’s increase their lead to 3-0. Joost scores on the swipe of home. Former A’s vet George McQuillan‚ playing at first for Nick Etten‚ scores New York’s only run. Spud Chandler takes the loss.
1942: Following a training accident at Jefferson Barracks‚ Missouri‚ Johnny Sturm has two fingers on his right hand amputated‚ an operation that finishes his baseball career. Sturm‚ who started at first base for the Yanks in 1941, his rookie year‚ hit .239 with 4 homers
1938: The Yankees sell outfielder Ernie Koy to the Dodgers.
1930: Weather curtails the AL Opening Day schedule‚ but at Shibe Park the matchup between the A’s and the Yankees features nine future Hall of Famers in the lineups‚ and three more – Herb Pennock‚ Waite Hoyt and Lefty Gomez – on the New York bench.
Minutes before the game‚ Al Simmons ends his holdout‚ signs a contract‚ and homers in his first at bat as the A’s and Lefty Grove defeat the Yankees’ George Pipgras 6-2. Babe Ruth’s clout in the 3rd inning strikes a loudspeaker in deep right center and bounds back onto the field. The tree of amplifiers juts about 5 feet over the playing field and the umps rule it a ground rule double. The Yankees argue that it should be a two-run homer‚ but to no avail‚ though both Mark Koenig and Ruth score when Grove is slow covering first and Jimmie Foxx’s throw misses him.
1928: In Baltimore‚ the Yankees beat the International League Orioles 5-2. Babe Ruth plays first base‚ while Lou Gehrig‚ in right field‚
bangs a homer. Bill Dickey also homers off former Brownie Bob Bolen.
1927: Babe Ruth belts the first of the 60 homers that he will hit this year‚ off Howard Ehmke in the 1st. New York notch a 6-3 victory over the visiting Athletics, Herb Pennock going the distance for the win.
1924: The opener at Fenway Park draws 25‚000 (23‚856 paid) but the Red Sox lose a heartbreaker to the Yankees‚ 2-1. The Sox lead 1-0 after 8 innings‚ with Howard Ehmke driving in the lone run. But two 9th-inning errors by second sacker Bill Wambsganss allow two unearned runs and pin the loss on Ehmke. Bob Shawkey pitches 8 innings and is replaced by Waite Hoyt‚ who registers the win.
1920: The Yanks rally for 4 runs in the last 3 innings to top the A’s‚ 4-1. Jack Quinn gets the win for the visiting New Yorkers, as Babe Ruth goes hitless in 5 at bats.
1918: In the opener in Washington‚ pre-game ceremonies include a biplane scattering thousands of liberty loan cards for the war effort. The Yankees‚ under new manager Miller Huggins‚ rap 11 hits to beat Walter Johnson‚ 6-3. Starter George Mogridge gets the win despite pitching just 3 1/3 innings. Allan Russell relieves and allows just one hit in 5 1/3 innings to save the victory. Johnson strikes out two while allowing 11 hits and will lose again in the 3-game series with New York.
1912: At Hilltop Park, Walter Johnson outduels Highlander ace Jack Quinn for a 1-0 victory.
1886: Len ‘King’ Cole, who was on the mound when Yankee catcher Les Nunamaker became the only catcher in MLB history to throw out three runners on the basepaths in the same inning, in 1914, is born.
The red-letter days:
1955: Elston Howard becomes the first black player to wear the Yankee uniform in a regular season game. He singles in his first at bat‚ against the Red Sox at Fenway‚ as the visitors lose‚ 8-4.
1933: At the Stadium‚ Yankee pitcher Red Ruffing breaks a 2-2 tie with the Red Sox by belting a game-ending grand slam in the 9th inning. It is the first walk-off grand slam in modern major league history (the one previous 9th inning grand slam winner- by Jack Stivett on June 10‚ 1890 – occurred in the top of the inning‚ even though his team was playing at home).
1920: Babe Ruth makes his Yankee debut.
At Shibe Park‚ the Babe laces two hits‚ but drops an easy fly in center that allows two runs to score in the 8th. Scott Perry of the A’s is the beneficiary of Babe’s error‚ winning 3-1 over Bob Shawkey. Each allows 7 hits‚ one homer‚ and a walk. Wally Pipp hits a homer for New York‚ while Cy Perkins connects for the A’s. New York leave its ace pitcher Carl Mays back in New York‚ since there is still a warrant out for his arrest in Philly.
On other 14ths of April…
2011: At a news conference in which he announces that pitcher Pedro Feliciano is lost for the season because of impending shoulder surgery, Yankees GM Brian Cashman lashes out at former manager Joe Torre for his handling of pitchers. He blames Torre for chronically overusing relievers such as Scott Proctor, thereby ruining their careers. Feliciano led the NL in games pitched three consecutive years while with the Mets prior to joining the Yankees, although Torre had nothing to do with that.
2008: Alex Rodriguez moves up to a tie for 15th on the all-time Major League home run leader list, drawing even with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey. A-Rod hits his 521st career homer as part of a 4-for-5 day; Andy Sonnanstine allows the shot. The Yankees top the Rays 8 – 7.
2004: The Yankees defeat the Devil Rays‚ 5-1‚ as Kevin Brown wins the 200th game of his ML career. Together with Mike Mussina‚ they become the first teammates to reach the milestone in the same season‚ doing so in consecutive games.
2000: Ricky Ledee is the man of the match, doubling twice, walking three times, scoring two runs and knocking one in. Roger Clemens survives the 7-5 win over the Royals, while Jorge Posada gets the Yanks going with a two-run blast in the 2nd inning.
1999: The Yankees defeat the Orioles‚ 14-7‚ as Chuck Knoblauch gets 5 hits‚ including his 1st homer of the year‚ for the winners.
Off the field, Darryl Strawberry is arrested in Tampa on charges of soliciting a prostitute and possession of cocaine. Strawberry has been at the Yankees’ extended training camp while he works himself back into shape following colon cancer surgery last October 3.
1978: Former Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon dies at age 63. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2008.
1974: Graig Nettles blasts 4 homers – 2 in each game – during a doubleheader split with his former team‚ the Indians. The Yanks win 9-5‚ then lose 9-6. Bobby Murcer has a homer in each game while Dave Duncan swats a pair in game two. Nettles will go on to tie the MLB record with 11 dingers in the month of April.
1968: New York suffers a 4-3 loss to Minnesota and lose Joe Pepitone, who fractures his left elbow running into an outfield wall.
1967: At the Stadium‚ Red Sox rookie Bill Rohr makes his major league debut, and startles everyone by taking a no-hitter into the 9th inning. But Elston Howard lines a 3-2 pitch for a single to right-center with two outs. Carl Yastrzemski had kept the no-hitter alive with a spectacular grab of a Tom Tresh drive to deep left to open the frame. The Red Sox win 3-0‚ beating Whitey Ford‚ who allows a lead off homer to Reggie Smith and a two-run homer to Joe Foy.
1966: David Justice, outfielder/DH for the 2000-01 Yankees, is born, Happy 48th, DJ!
1947: The Yankees release two veterans‚ relief ace Johnny Murphy and first baseman Nick Etten. Murphy will be signed by the Red Sox while Etten‚ the AL home run leader in 1944 and RBI leader in 1945‚ will catch on briefly with the Phillies.
1942: In D.C., Vice President Henry Wallace fills in for FDR and tosses out the first ball. Then Red Ruffing makes his 5th and final Opening Day start for the Yankees‚ holding the Senators to 3 singles as the Yanks win‚ 7-0. The Yankees tally 3 runs in the 2nd inning off the Senators young righty Sid Hudson for all the scoring they need. For Ruffing‚ it is his 245th career victory‚ tying him with Ted Lyons for most wins by an active pitcher. Helping to keep order at the park are 80 auxiliary police from DC’s 13th precinct- ’40 whites and 40 negroes’ as reported by the Washington Post.
1941: With the only game scheduled in sweltering Washington‚ writers for The Sporting News are picking Cincinnati to repeat in the NL race and Cleveland to win the AL pennant. FDR tosses out the first ball‚ and then the Yankees score single runs in the 1st‚ 4th‚ and 5th innings off Dutch Leonard to win‚ 3-0.
Mario Russo allows three hits and drives in a run with a double to win. Phil Rizzuto‚ like Russo a graduate of New York’s Richmond Hills High School‚ is hitless in his debut‚ but fields flawlessly.
1937: Judge Landis declares minor leaguer Tommy Henrich a free agent‚ voiding his Cleveland contract.
This is another of the cover-up situations Landis hated‚ and the balance of the scale for letting Cleveland keep Bob Feller. In 4 days‚ Henrich will sign with the Yankees for $25‚000.
1936: At Griffith Stadium‚ Vice-President James Garner makes the march to the flagpole for the President.
Then, to a standing ovation from 31‚000, FDR tosses out the first ball (but misses the catcher emtirely) in the Senators opener against the Yankees. Nats starter Bobo Newsom pitches a masterful game‚ surviving a 5th inning beaning when he is hit by a throw to first by third baseman Ossie Bluege‚ to shut out the Yankees 1-0 on 4 hits. Lefty Gomez loses his second straight 1-0 Opener. The President stays till the final out‚ munching peanuts and keeping his own scorecard.
1931: Under new managers ~ Shano Collins for Boston‚ and Joe McCarthy for New York ~ the Yankees open at the Stadium with a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox.
Red Ruffing gives up a leadoff triple and a run in the first‚ but the Yankees respond with two runs in the 2nd off Wilcy Moore. New York’s last score is a 7th-inning solo shot by Babe Ruth‚ off reliever Ed Durham. Boston threaten in the 8th‚ getting a two-run pinch homer from Tom Winsett in his first major league at bat. Winsett is the first player to take advantage of the new fair/foul rule
regarding HRs. He hits a ball that curves foul after leaving the playing field‚ but in the judgment of the umps was a fair ball at the
time it left the field. After the next two batters get on‚ Red Ruffing induces Earl Webb to ground into a 3rd out.
1925: With Ben Paschal filling in for the ailing Babe Ruth in right‚ the Yankees defeat the Senators 5-1 before 45‚000 at the Stadium. Paschal fills the Babe’s shoes by contributing a two-run homer and an RBI single. Urban Shocker (below)‚ back with New York after 7 years‚ is the starter and winner for New York. Because of the cold weather‚ the Nats go with George Mogridge‚ instead of Walter Johnson‚ and he allows 9 hits in 7 innings while taking the loss.
1915: With government offices closed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination‚ many federal employees, including President Woodrow Wilson‚ are among the 15‚556 fans on hand for the Washington Opener against the Yankees. Wilson throws out the first ball and the rest is all Walter Johnson‚ who allows just two singles and issues three walks‚ all to Andy High. High adds two steals. The Senators score 7 runs against Yankee starter Jack Warhop to coast to a shutout win.
1914: Before 22‚000 at the Polo Grounds‚ the Yankees rock the World Champion Athletics‚ 8-2‚ driving Joe Bush from the mound after two innings. With only one starter‚ Roy Hartzell‚ back from last year’s opening lineup‚ New York score 4 in the first and would have scored another in the second but for Jeff Sweeney falling as he rounds third base. When the burly catcher is helped to his feet by coach and manager Frank Chance‚ he is declared out by Billy Evans: a new rule prohibits coaches from helping runners. Sweeney redeems himself when he and pitcher Marty McHale pull off a double steal. New York have seven steals‚ including two by Sweeney and Fritz Maisel‚ who steals second and third in the 4th inning. Maisel will swipe 74 bases on the year (which will stand as the club season record until Rickey Henderson)‚ while Sweeney will pick up 19‚ still tops for Yankee catchers.
1910: In the season opener before 25‚000 at New York’s Hilltop Park‚ the Red Sox‚ sport laced collars (they are the last major league team to wear collars of any kind). Boston send the Highlanders into extra innings before the game is called at the end of the fourteenth with the score knotted at 4. Ed Cicotte starts for Boston‚ with Joe Wood relieving in the 8th inning. Jumbo Jim Vaughn goes all the way for New York‚ retiring the side in the 4th and 12th innings on four pitches each. He needs just three in the 10th.
1908: At Hilltop Park‚ Slow Joe Doyle scatters four hits in edging the A’s‚ 1-0 in 12 innings. The first hit is by A’s left fielder Topsy Hartsell‚ who has his nose broken by an errant pitch during pre-game warmups. Nick Carter‚ making his major-league debut‚ matches Doyle for 11 innings‚ but in the 12th‚ a ground rule double into the crowd and a single put runners at the corners. A line drive to right fielder Jack Coombs then scores Red Kleinow with the winner.
1906: At Hilltop Park‚ former player John Montgomery Ward (below) throws out the first ball before the start of the Highlanders-Boston Americans opener. Veterans Jack Chesbro and Cy Young struggle to a 1-1 standoff through eleven innings before New York push across an unearned run in the 12th.
1904: At chilly Hilltop Park‚ each spectator is given a small American flag as (s)he enters the park for the Highlanders-Boston game. Ex-Judge Olcott tosses out the first ball and then Jack Chesbro (below) pitches and bats New York to an 8-2 victory. He scatters six hits and scores two runs on two hits‚ including a home run. Both Boston runs come on inside the park homers‚ by Buck Freeman in the 7th‚ and in the 9th by Freddie Parent. New York score 5 in the first inning off Cy Young to put the game away.
2010: On Opening Day at the Stadium, Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth sings the National Anthem and the team collect their 2009 World Series rings, while fan favourite and not quite retired Yankee Bernie Williams throws out the ceremonial first pitch.
In the game that follows, Andy Pettitte earns the win with a strong six-inning stint. David Robertson struggles in a four-run 9th and has to be rescued by Mariano Rivera, who saves the 7-5 victory. Jorge Posada passes Mickey Mantle on the all-time Yankees doubles list in the 7th with his 344th career two-bagger, one of his 3 safeties in the game. In the ‘Promise that will remain unfulfilled’ department, Nick Johnson (who raises eyebrows by selecting the Miley Cyrus hit ‘Party in the USA’ as his coming to bat music) connects for a 1st-inning home run and scores three times. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez drive in two runs apiece.
1999: Jorge makes ‘em pay. After the Yankees take a 3-2 lead against the Orioles on a Tino Martinez 8th-inning double, Baltimore’s Arthur Rhodes intentionally walks Chili Davis to get to the Yankee catcher. Posada fouls off four pitches before powering an opposite-field 3-run homer. Ramiro Mendoza gets the start for the Yanks but leaves after six with the score tied at 2. The Bombers finish on top 6-3, with Jeff Nelson getting the win and Mariano Rivera the save.
1998: A steel joint weighing several hundred pounds falls through a roof panel at Yankee Stadium‚ destroying a seat located between third base and home plate. Luckily‚ the Yankees are scheduled to play a night game‚ and no fans are in the stadium at the time. Emergency inspections are scheduled‚ and the game against the Angels is canceled. The final game of the series will be played at Shea Stadium‚ while next week’s series against the Tigers is switched to Detroit.
1992: The Yankees (5-0) and Blue Jays (6-0)‚ meet‚ marking only the 3rd time this century that 2 unbeaten teams had met so late in the season. The Yanks win by a score of 5-2. Danny Tartabull’s 9th inning home run will put the visiting Bombers ahead to stay.
1978: The Yankees defeat the White Sox 4-2 in their home opener on ‘Reggie!’ Candy Bar Day. Jackson connects for a 3-run homer in the first inning‚ and the field is showered with candy bars which were given out free to the fans at the game.
1955: In their home opener‚ the Yanks rout the Senators 19-1. Winner Whitey Ford gets 3 hits and only allows 2‚ as he knocks in 4 runs. Mickey Mantle and Bob Cerv also drive home 4 runs. Mantle‚ Mantle‚ Yogi Berra‚ and Bill Skowron crack homers‚ while Cerv and Andy Carey add triples. Mickey McDermott‚ in 3+ innings of work‚ is the loser‚ as the Yanks register the biggest margin of victory in an opener in MLB history. The most runs in an opener were notched by the Indians in a 21-14 win over the Browns in 1925.
1954: In the presidential opener in Washington‚ President Dwight D. Eisenhower is thrilled by Mickey Vernon’s 10th inning 2-run game-ending homer off Allie Reynolds which beats the Yankees 5-3. Ike skipped last year’s opener‚ which was rained out‚ and the political hue and cry was so great he made sure he tossed out the first ball today. Chuck Stobbs and Whitey Ford start the game‚ but the winning Nats pitcher is reliever Sonny Dixon. Hank Bauer‚ with two singles‚ drives in all three Yankee runs.
1952:Babe Ruth’s widow Claire unveils the plaque commemorating the Fayetteville, North Carolina site of her late husband’s first professional home run.
1941: In the final pre-season tune-up game with Brooklyn‚ the Yankees win their third in a row at Ebbets Field‚ 3-0‚ on Sunday afternoon. The Dodgers had come into the series with an 11-game winning streak‚ including 4 with the Yanks on their way north.
1933: Delayed a day because of a spring storm‚ the Yankees open against the Red Sox in front of 36‚221 at the Stadium. Lou Gehrig jump-starts the offense with a three-run homer in the first‚ off former Yank Ivy Andrews‚ and the New Yorkers score one more in the 4th to win‚ 4-3. Lefty Gomez is the winner‚ but as in last year’s opener‚ he needs help getting the last out.
1928: At Philadelphia‚ the Yankees edge the Athletics‚ 8-7‚ on a double by Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig hits a long drive off Eddie Rommel that goes through an open window on 20th Street. Cy Moore allows just 2 hits through 5 innings for New York before weakening‚ but picks up the win. Joe Hauser‚ returning to the A’s after a year in the minors‚ collects two homers and a triple.
1926: At a frigid Fenway Park‚ the hitting is hot as the Yankees and Red Sox combine for 29 hits in the Opener. The Yankees score 4 runs in the 1st inning off Howard Ehmke‚ the first of six Boston hurlers. Rudy Sommers‚ making his first ML appearance in 12 years‚ takes over for Ehmke in the 5th. He gives up 3 runs on doubles by Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth‚ and New York stretch their lead to 11-1. A 5-run Boston outburst in the 6th sends New York starter Bob Shawkey to the showers‚ but New York hang on to beat the Red Sox‚ 12-11. Ruth and Joe Dugan have three hits apiece for New York‚ while Ira Flagstead has 4 hits for Boston. Ehmke is the loser for the Sox.
1921: In the season opener for the Yankees‚ warm weather and Babe Ruth contribute to 37‚000 fans crowding the Polo Grounds. After New York mayor John Hylan tosses out the first ball‚ the Yankees tear into the A’s‚ beating them 11-1 as every New Yorker scores at least a run. The Yanks lead is only 2-1 into the bottom of the 7th‚ but then they unload against Scott Perry. Bob Hasty gives up the last 6 New York runs. Ruth is 5-for-5‚ with two doubles‚ and Carl Mays collects as many hits -3- as he allows. He has now won 11 straight against the A’s.
1875: Kid Elberfeld is born. Acquired in a swap with the Detroit Tigers on the 10th of June, 1903 (making him the first trade acquisition in franchise history) for Highlander utility infielders Ernie Courtney and Herman Long, he would anchor the New York infield at shortstop for 8 seasons, including 1908, when he also piloted the team. Relieved of managerial duties after the club finished in last place, Elberfeld would play one more year in Manhattan at 3rd base before being sold to the Washington Senators.
The red-letter day:
1927: The ‘Murderers’ Row’ Yankees open their campaign.
After Mayor Jimmy Walker tosses out the first ball in New York‚ the biggest Opening Day crowd in Yankee Stadium history – 65‚000 – watch the Yankees batter Philadelphia’s Lefty Grove 8-3. After four runless innings‚ the Yanks score four in the 5th frame and four more in the 6th. In the 6th inning Ben Paschal pinch hits for Babe Ruth and singles against Grove‚ then goes out to right field. Paschal pinch hit for Gehrig on several occasions this year. Ruth‚ with 2 strikeouts and a pop up in 3 at bats against Grove‚ will later say he did not feel well. Waite Hoyt goes all the way for New York‚ walking three and allowing eight hits‚ including a 9th inning pinch single by Zack Wheat‚ longtime Brooklyn favourite. The Yankees will share or hold first place from the first day of the race to the last, a feat unmatched in the AL until the 1984 Tigers.
On other 12ths of April…
1990: The Yankees open the season in New York in front of 50,114 with Billy Martin’s son Billy jr. throwing out the first ball. The Yanks win 6-4 win over the Indians, scoring twice in the 8th inning to break a 4-4 tie. Luis Polonia’s hit breaks the tie and the Pinstripers score another run on an error. Eric Plunk is the winner over Jesse Orosco. Polonia will be rewarded for his hit by being sent to the Angels in two weeks for Claudell Washington.
1970: Plaques honouring Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle are dedicated at Yankee Stadium (They will later be upgraded to monuments). The Bombers split with the Indians in the doubleheader that follows, with Mel Stottlemyre falling 2-1 to ‘Sudden’ Sam McDowell game one, and Jack Aker getting the nightcap win 5-4 when Ron Hansen walks in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded.
1969: At Detroit‚ the Yanks’ Mel Stottlemyre allows just one hit – a 4th inning double by Bill Northrup – in beating Denny McLain and the Tigers‚ 4-0. For the 3rd time in 2 years‚ Northrup saves the Tigers from being the victims of a no hitter.
1966: At the Stadium‚ 40‚006 fans watch the Tigers edge the Yankees‚ 2-1. The Yankees only score is Joe Pepitone’s 5th inning homer off Mickey Lolich‚ who strikes out 10 Yankees. Lolich‚ with a career average of .075‚ leads off the 9th with a single‚ which opens the door for the Tigers’ winning run off Whitey Ford.
1959: After two rainouts‚ the Yankees and Red Sox open at the Stadium before 22‚559‚ as the 42°F temperature threatens a third postponement. Bob Turley allows just two Sox hits and Norm Siebern’s 8th inning homer provides a 3-2 New York victory. Siebern’s hit is his 3rd of the game off Tom Brewer.
1949: Joe DiMaggio returns to Johns Hopkins hospital because of continuing pain in his heel. A bone spur is diagnosed and he will miss 65 games this coming season.
1948: The Yankees give veteran Spud Chandler his release. Chandler won 109 games in 11 seasons as a Yank‚ the only ML team he played for. He was 9-5 last season‚ and finishes his ML career with a winning percentage of .717 (109-43).
1932: At Shibe Park‚ bitter cold and the Depression limit the crowd to 16‚000 for the Opener with the Yankees‚ a 12-6 slugfest won by New York. New York rack up five home runs-two each by Babe Ruth and Sammy Byrd‚ and another by Lou Gehrig. Gehrig adds a triple and single‚ as the Yankees score ten runs and hit four homers off ace George Earnshaw. Ruth clouts a three-run shot in the first that lands on a roof across 20th street and a two-run homer in the 4th that travels even farther. The longest round-tripper of the day‚ however‚ is Jimmie Foxx’s blast to center in the 7th. Jack Saltzgaver and the A’s Max Bishop each walk four times and Gehrig‚ with an 11-4 lead in the 9th‚ steals home with Ben Chapman swiping second. Al Simmons answers with a two-run homer‚ the 7th of the game‚ off Lefty Gomez. With the bases full of A’s‚ Red Ruffing gets the last out.
1922: President Warren G. Harding throws out the first ball in Washington‚ and the Senators beat the Yankees 6-5.
Former Yank George Mogridge starts for the Nats against Sad Sam Jones‚ making his Yankee debut‚ as rookie manager Clyde Milan passes over Walter Johnson as starting pitcher. The Nats star has been ill most of the spring. Both Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel are out of the Yankee lineup‚ suspended by the league for barnstorming‚ and the Babe watches the game from the presidential box. Washington outhit New York‚ 15-9‚ and comes from behind to win in the 8th.
1916: Before 20‚000 at the Polo Grounds‚ the Yankees and Senators battle 11 innings before the Nats push across an unearned run against starter Ray Caldwell to win 3-2. Walter Johnson strikes out 10 and walks none in the win. Frank Baker‚ after sitting out last season in a salary protest‚ has two of the five hits for New York‚ while Clyde Milan homers for Washington.
1912: At Hilltop Park‚ the Red Sox send Buck O’Brien‚ 5-1 last year after leading the Western League in strikeouts‚ against the Highlanders’ Russ Ford and the Sox prevail‚ 5-2 Buck allows 6 hits as he heads towards 20 victories.
1909: At Washington‚ the Highlanders open the season under new manager George Stallings (below)‚ losing to the Senators‚ 4-1.
The Nationals score three runs in the first off journeyman Doc Newton to pave the way for Charlie Smith. Smith allows just 4 hits and strikes out 10.
The red-letter day ~
1912: Playing the Red Sox in the season opener at Hilltop Park‚ the New York Highlanders wear pinstripes for the first time.
Boston score a run in the first against Ray Caldwell (above)‚ and the home team respond with two runs in the bottom against Joe Wood. That is all the scoring until the ninth‚ when the Sox push across four runs‚ including two on a Smoky Joe single. Boston win‚ 5-3‚ on Wood’s seven hitter.
On other 11ths of April…
2006: In the Yankees home opener, the Bronx Bombers use a 5-run 8th to upend the Royals, 9-7. Derek Jeter’s 3-run homer is the big blow in the frame. Jason Giambi hits a 3-run homer in the 1st to start the Yankee scoring. Yankee Stadium public address man Bob Sheppard misses the game due to a hip injury – it’s the first time that the announcer has missed an opener since he began his gig in the PA booth in 1951, a period of 55 years or 20,083 days.
2004: Mike Mussina records his 200th career victory as the Yankees defeat the White Sox 5-4 at home.
1999: The Yanks show once again just how formidable the one-two punch at the top of their order is, as both Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter reach safely in four of five ABs in their club’s 11-2 savaging of the Tigers. Jeter doubles, homers, and plates three in support of winner Orlando ‘El Duque’ Hernandez.
1998: Andy Pettitte pitches the Yankees to a 3-1 win against the A’s‚ to put the team over the .500 mark for the first time in the season. Pettitte earned his 1st win of the year‚ beating Tom Candiotti. Derek Jeter has 2 hits‚ 2 runs‚ and 2 steals.
1982: At the Stadium‚ the Yankees finally open, with a 7-6 loss to Chicago in 12 innings followed by a 2-0 defeat in the nitecap. The groundskeepers are feted because of their efforts in getting the snow-covered field ready‚ and crew chief Walt Esposito tosses out the first ball. Jerry Koosman and Ron Guidry are the starters but Koosman gives up 6 runs in 5 2/3 innings and Guidry 4 runs in 4 innings to earn showers. Goose Gossage‚ the last of 4 pitchers‚ gives up a leadoff triple to Bill Almon in the 12th and Ron LeFlore drives him home with one of his 3 hits on the day. Kevin Hickey wins with an inning of relief.
1980: Mark Teixeira is born. Happy 34th, Tex!
1961: At the Stadium‚ longtime Yankee player and coach Ralph Houk gets off to a rocky start, as his club are shut out by Minnesota’s Pedro Ramos‚ 6-0. Ramos contributes to his own cause with a two-run single,oand allows just base hits in beating Whitey Ford. The Chairman of the Board, however‚ will finish the season at 25-4.
1954: The Yanks obtain veteran Enos Slaughter in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Redbirds, who are making room for promising rookie outfielder Wally Moon, also give up 4 players to be named later. In what turns out to be a good deal for both teams‚ the Cards get center fielder Bill Virdon‚ pitcher Mel Wright, and outfielder Emil Tellinger in return. Virdon will become the NL Rookie of the Year in 1955‚ following Wally Moon‚ and Slaughter will help the Yankees to win 103 games.
Enos Slaughter in the 1946 World Series
1928: 25‚000 fans are on hand for the coldest Opener ever in Philadelphia as the A’s drop an 8-3 decision to the Yankees. Starter Herb Pennock drives in the first two New York runs against Lefty Grove in the 2nd‚ and the Yanks score three more in the 3rd to knock Grove out of the game. Babe Ruth has a triple and scores three runs‚ while Bing Miller goes 3-for-3 for the A’s.
1917: In pregame drills before Opening Day at the Polo Grounds‚ the Yankees impress General Leonard Wood by marching in drills. The visiting Red Sox‚ who haven’t practiced‚ decline‚ but then drill New York 10-3 in the game. Boston break a 3-3 tie with four runs in the 7th‚ three coming home on round tripper by Dick Hoblitzell. Tilly Walker adds a double‚ two triples and 4 RBIs for Boston‚ while Babe Ruth allows just three hits‚ all singles‚ in beating Ray Caldwell.
General Leonard Wood
1910: Against Princeton University‚ 22-year-old Jumbo Vaughn strikes out eight Tigers in six innings‚ and impresses Highlander manager George Stallings enough to give Jumbo the starting assignment on Opening Day.
1907: At Washington‚ a record crowd of 12‚902 watch the Highlanders’ Al Orth (below) beats his old team‚ the Nationals‚ 3-2. ‘Long Tom’ Hughes, one of the players New York traded for Orth‚ is the losing pitcher. Hal Chase skips the opener because of a salary disagreement‚ and George Moriarty fills in at first base for the New Yorkers.