The red-letter days:
2003: Hideki Matsui makes a spectacular debut in pinstripes.
After delaying their home opener by a day because of impending snow‚ the Yankees beat the Twins‚ 7-3‚ with a Matsui grand slam the key blow in the game. The new arrival from Japan becomes the first Yankee in history to hit a slam in his first game in the Stadium. He also becomes the first to hit his first Yankee homer with the bases loaded since Horace Clarke did so in 1965. The loss puts the Twins below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000 season‚ a club-record span of 328 consecutive games.
1985: At Fenway‚ 46-year-old Phil Niekro gets the ball for the Yankees‚ making him the oldest pitcher in American league history to start an Opener (Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers set the MLB record, for Brooklyn in 1931, at age 47). Boston chase Niekro after 4 innings and behind the pitching of Oil Can Boyd coast to a 9-2 win. Niekro walks 4 in the 3rd inning‚ including two with the bases loaded‚ to lose his 7th Opener in a row (6 with Atlanta)‚ the worst opening day record ever. Tony Armas‚ Dwight Evans‚ and Jim Rice stroke homers for Boston.
On other 8ths of April…
2004: Javier Vazquez makes his Yankee Stadium debut, in the home opener. Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford get things off to a festive start by tossing ceremonial first pitches to Jorge Posada, John Flaherty and Bubba Crosby respectively, and Paul Cartier becomes the new answer to the question, ‘Who plays the Stadium organ?’, keyboard stalwart Eddie Layton having recently retired. Gary Sheffield singles in one run and scores anotheron on a Posada sac fly in the home 1st, and Vazquez makes it stand up in a 3-1 win for the pinstriped hosts over Scott Schoenweiss and the ChiSox.
2002: The Yankees pound out 22 hits in clobbering the Blue Jays‚ 16-3. Alfonso Soriano collects 5 hits for NY‚ including a double and a three-run homer‚ while Robin Ventura (below) drives across 6 runs.
2001: In the Yankees 16-5 win over Toronto at the Stadium‚ Yankee pinch hitter Scott Seabol becomes the lowest-drafted player (in the 88th round in 1996) to ever appear in a major league game. Former Royals star Al Cowens‚ picked on the 75th round in 1969‚ was the previous record holder. This distinction will last just 11 days before Travis Phelps – the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ selection in the 89th round‚ also in 1996 – makes his debut on April 19. Roger Clemens is the winner as batterymate Jorge Posada belts his first grand slam‚ one of 20 Yankee hits. The fact that the first five Toronto batters to come to the plate in the 4th also come around to score will be scarcely noticed by the hometown crowd, since the Bombers entered the inning with a 12-run lead.
1993: The Yanks are on the losing end of an historic event when Indians second sacker Carlos Baerga becomes the first player in major league annals to homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning‚ connecting in the 7th frame (off Steve Howe and Steve Barr, respectively) of Cleveland’s 15-5 win over the visiting New Yorkers.
1986: The Kansas City Royals are the first defending champions – other than the Bronx Bombers themselves – since the 1925 Washington Senators to open at Yankee Stadium‚ and they start the season on the wrong foot by losing‚ 4-2. New York score all 4 runs off starter Bud Black‚ who gives up a three-run homer to Butch Wynegar in the 2nd. Hal McRae accounts for both KC runs with a two-run homer off starter Ron Guidry‚ one of two hits Guidry gives up in 5 innings. Guidry wins his first Opener with relief help from Rod Scurry and Dave Righetti.
1978: Highly touted off-season acquisition Goose Gossage gets off to a rocky start with the Yankees.
At the season opener in Arlington‚ the Rangers edge the Yanks 2-1 behind newcomers Richie Zisk and Jon Matlack. Matlack scatters 8 hits in winning‚ while Zisk delivers a 9th inning solo walkoff shot against the Goose. Ron Guidry, embarking on one of the greatest single seasons for any pitcher in major League annals, goes 7 innings for New York, scattering six singles – after this no-decision‚ he will win 13 straight games.
1976: At County Stadium‚ the Brewers open against the Yankees with Hank Aaron starting what will prove to be his final Major League campaign by driving in 3 runs to back Jim Slaton’s 4-hit 5-0 win.
Five days later‚ Slaton will shut out the Tigers. Catfish Hunter is the loser‚ allowing 5 runs in 7 innings. Later‚ both he and reliever Sparky Lyle complain about the flatness of the mound.
1975: The Yankees are participants in history again as they take the field in Cleveland. After Rachel Robinson‚ widow of Jackie‚ tosses out the first ball, Frank Robinson‚ in his opening game as the first black manager in the majors, adds a dramatic touch by homering in his first at bat (as a DH).
The blow will be the catalyst for a 5-3 win over the visiting Bombers. For player-manager Robinson‚ it is his 8th Opening Day homer, setting an MLB record. Starter Doc Medich is the loser‚ going 5 innings and giving up all 5 runs. Gaylord Perry goes all the way to win for the Tribe‚ while Boog Powell backs him with a 3-for-3 outing, including a double and homer.
1946: Catfish Hunter is born.
Hunter was the highest paid pitcher in baseball when he signed with the Yankees in 1975. He got off to a rough start, going 0-3 in his first four outings. He settled down after that, ultimately winning more than 20 games and was also named to the All-Star team for the seventh time. In 1976 Hunter won 17 games, led the Yankeees in complete games and innings pitched, and was again named to the All-Star team. The Yankees won three straight pennants with Hunter from 1976 to 1978. However, the years of arm strain and the effects of diabetes had begun to toll on the pitcher and in 1979, Hunter retired from baseball. Hunter was an effective pitcher, not because he overpowered batters with his speed, but because of the precision of his location. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. At the time a player was allowed to choose which cap would be memorialized on his Hall of Fame Plaque. Before and after his induction, Hunter spoke highly of his experiences with both the A’s and Yankees and his appreciation for both team owners, Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner. For this reason, he refused to choose a team and thus the plaque depicts him without an insignia on his cap.
Hunter died at his home in Hertford, North Carolina in 1999 after he took a fall down the stairs at his home. He had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in an advanced stage at the time.
1930: In Memphis‚ the Chicks beat the Yankees in an exhibtion game‚ 3-1. Babe Ruth‚ hobbling from an injury incurred 2 days ago in Dallas‚ bashes a homer for the vistors’ only run. In his next at bat he hits the top of the signboard at Russwood Park as Ruth ambles to 1B for single. Sam Byrd pinch runs.
1909: While at spring training in Hialeah, FL‚ Hal Chase contracts smallpox. The entire Highlander team is vaccinated and will be quarantined while travelling back to New York.
2011: Barely a week into his major league career, Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka suffers a broken fibula in a collision with a sliding Nick Swisher of the Yankees, who is trying to break up a double play. The Yankees win the game, 4 – 3. A.J. Burnett is the winner, benefiting from a three-run rally in the 4th inning.
2010: New Yankee centerfielder Curtis Granderson quickly makes his presence felt with the Bronx Bombers. After homering in his first at-bat for the team on Opening Day on April 4th, he hits a game-winning long ball off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon in the 10th inning of today’s game, which started as a pitching duel between Andy Pettitte and John Lackey, giving the Yankees a 3 – 1 victory. Chan Ho Park redeems his poor Opening Day performance with three innings of one-hit ball in relief to earn his first win in pinstripes, while Mariano Rivera picks up his second save in as many days.
2008: Mike Mussina makes his second start of the year, and allows just two hits in six innings of a 6-1 victory over the Tampa (no longer Devil) Rays. Bobby Abreu leads the offense, with a two-run bomb in the 1st along with a triple, a single, a walk, three runs scored, and two RBI. Nursing a sore hand after being hit by a pitch a few days earlier, Derek Jeter leaves the game in the 3rd, with first baseman Wilson Betemit moving over to short and leaving his position to Morgan Ensberg. New Jersey Devils players Zach Parise and Travis Zajac advance the home games-left counter down from 75 to 74 in the fifth inning.
2002: Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada all double in a three-run first inning in a 7-2 win over the Devil Rays. Both Jeter and Soriano add two singles apiece, and the Captain collects 3 RBI, varrying Roger Clemens to the win. The Bombers jump on future Yankee Tanyon Sturtze for an early barrage. The only earned Devil Rays run is driven in by catcher John Flaherty, who signed with TB over the winter after a two-year stint as Posada’s backup in New York. This is also the day that the Yankee players are presented with their 2001 American League Championship rings.
1977: Before a crowd of 43‚785 in the season opener at the Stadium‚ Reggie Jackson makes his first start as a Yankee.
Catfish Hunter holds the Brewers to five hits‚ three by Von Joshua‚ as the Yankees win 3-0.
Von’s last hit strikes Catfish in the instep and the hurler leaves after 7 innings of work. Sparky Lyle pitches the last two innings. Jim Wynn has two hits for New York‚ including a homer in his first Yankee at-bat. Reggie Jackson‚ in his first start as a Yankee‚ also has two hits and two runs‚ one on a suicide squeeze by Willie Randolph. With the recent addition of Bucky Dent to the lineup‚ the Yankees start an all-star at every position (Catfish Hunter‚ Thurman Munson‚ Chris Chambliss‚ Willie Randolph‚ Dent‚ Graig Nettles‚ Roy White‚ Mickey Rivers‚ Reggie Jackson and Jimmy Wynn). They will duplicate this on Opening Day 2005.
1970: At the Stadium‚ Mel Stottlemyre makes his 4th straight Opening Day start‚ joining Lefty Gomez and Jack Chesbro as the only Yankee pitchers to take a first day bow that many times. The Red Sox counter with newly acquired Gary Peters‚ who allowed no earned runs in 32 spring training innings. Boston jump out to a 4-0 lead by the fifth inning‚ but the Yanks score 3 in the 6th to chase Peters. That’s all the scoring, though, as Boston win‚ 4-3.
(Editor’s note: In the ‘How times have changed’ department, the game took 2:19 to play, with 21,379 in attendance… Can you imagine a game against the Red Sox taking less than 3 hours to play, or the Stadium less than half full on opening day?…)
1969: The Yankees begin their year on the road, as the guests of the Washington Senators for the RFK Stadium home opener, as well as Ted Williams’ managerial debut. The visitors spoil the party, handing the Nats and starter Camilo Pascual an 8-4 loss. Jerry Kenney and Bobby Murcer hit back-to-back homers off Pascual in the 3rd, and Mel Stottlemyre goes the distance for the Yanks.
1874: John Ganzel, who hit the first home run in the history of the Yankee franchise (as a first baseman for the Highlanders on the 16th of May, 1903) is born.
The red-letter day:
1973: At Fenway Park, the Yankees’ Ron Blomberg becomes the first official Major League designated hitter.
The first ball is thrown out by Ed Folger‚ a Red Sox farm hand who had his legs amputated last September following an accident.
In the top of the first, Blomberg takes his place in history when he faces righthander Luis Tiant. Blomberg walks with the bases loaded and winds up 1-for-3 in the 15-5 loss to Boston. Sox DH Orlando Cepeda goes 0-for-6‚ but Carlton Fisk strokes two homers‚ one a grand slam‚ in the 20-hit Boston barrage. 2nd baseman Doug Griffin notches four hits for Boston‚ who overcome a 3-0 deficit by scoring eight runs to chase Mel Stottlemyre by the third inning. The Yanks record eight hits off Tiant‚ five by the Alou brothers, Matty and Felipe
On other 6ths of April…
2012: Carlos Pena is the hero as the Rays defeat the Yankees 7 – 6 on Opening Day. Pena hits a grand slam off C.C. Sabathia in the 1st, and gets the game-winning hit, again with the bases loaded, off Mariano Rivera. Trailing 6 – 5 heading into the bottom of the 9th at Tropicana Field, the Rays stage a rally against the great Yankee closer when Desmond Jennings leads off with a single and Ben Zobrist triples him in; Rivera issues intentional passes to the next two batters to load the bases, but after striking out Sean Rodriguez, he gives up Pena’s game-ending hit to the base of the right field wall.
2009: Marquee free agents C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixera have a rough time in their Yankee debut. Sabathia gives up 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings and Teixeira goes 0 for 4 as the Orioles double up the Yanks 10-5 at Camden Yards. Cesar Izturis hits a 2-run homer and Aubrey Huff a 2-bagger for the Birds as Jeremy Guthrie picks up the win.
2008: The first Sunday home game in the old Yankee Stadium’s final fills the 50,000-plus in attendance with optimism, as Yankee ace Chien-Ming Wang bests Tampa’s Steve Shields 2-0 in a pitchers’ duel. Offensive heroics go to DH Hideki Matsui, who highlights his 3-for-4 day at the plate with a two-run home run to right center in the 4th. This comes shortly after Wang retired Willy Aybar at the plate on an attempted suicide squeeze by throwing to catcher Jorge Posada. Injuries to the three Yankees featured in this game will go a long way towards spoiling the Bombers’ season. In a rite that continues to feature stars daily, Yogi Berra advances the home-games-left counter from 76 to 75, Joe Pepitone having done the honours the day before.
Off the field, this day marks the first appearance of Hiba Thamer (AKA @GoGetMyCoffee on Twitter) in the life of your editor. Blogger, rising Internet radio personality, brilliant MB candidate and all around good egg, Hiba has become as indispensable as oxygen to anyone who has been fortunate enough to get to know her over the past 6 years in the online Yankee community. Here’s hoping for not only another six years in her delightful company, but another few decades. Cheers!
2003: Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson hit back-to-back homers to start the game as the Yanks beat Tampa Bay‚ 10-5. Roger Clemens notches career victory No. 295.
1982: A foot of snow cancels the Yankees opener with the Rangers at the Stadium. Tomorrow’s game with Texas and the first two with the White Sox will also be canceled because of snow and ice. With 2 games snowed out in Chicago‚ the Red Sox will return tomorrow to Winter Haven‚ FL.
1977: Former Yankee utility infielder Andy Phillips is born, Happy 37th, AP!
1974: The Yankees open their two-year stay at Shea Stadium before a crowd of 20‚744. 12-year-old Teddy Kennedy‚ Jr.‚ flanked by his father and Mayor Abe Beame‚ tosses out the first ball. Missing from the ceremony is George Steinbrenner‚ indicted two days ago for illegal campaign contributions. Graig Nettles’ two-run homer in the 4th off the Indians’ Gaylord Perry opens the scoring and the Yanks score 4 more times to win‚ 6-1. Charlie Spikes scores the only Cleveland run in the 9th following a triple off starter and winner Mel Stottlemyre. Perry‚ who is warned once for an illegal pitch‚ is the loser today‚ but he will win his next 15 decisions.
1954: ’70s Yankee spot starter Ken Clay is born. Though his principal claim to fame is as the only pitcher in franchise history to give up back-to-back inside the park home runs, here’s wishing KC a happy 60th anyway!
The red-letter day:
1913: The Yankees play for the first time under their new name (from 1903 to 1912, the franchise was known as the New York Highlanders). 25,000 fans are on hand in Flatbush to watch them play an exhibition game with the Brooklyn Dodgers (who are also christening Ebbets Field on this day). Brooklyn beat the Yankees, 3-2, with Dodger outfielder and future Yankee manager Casey Stengel hitting the venue’s first home run, an inside-the-parker.
On other 5ths of April…
2005: Carl ‘American Idle’ Pavano appears ready to register his first Yankee win as his teammates take a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning on Hideki Matsui’s two run home run off Matt Clement but Jason Varitek reaches Mariano Rivera for a game-tying homer. Derek Jeter’s lead-off, full-count blast to right center off Keith Foulke in the bottom of the ninth, however sends the crowd home happy.
2001: Paul O’Neill puts his side up 1-0 with a 1st-inning home run off KC’s Dan Reichert, and Mike Mussina holds on to win 1-0 with some closure from Mariano Rivera. This is one of only two games in Yankee history in which the club won 1-0 in a game in which a 1st-inning solo homer was the only scoring (the other occasion was in 1941, with future Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto proving the firepower).
1995: The Yankees acquire closer John Wetteland from the Montreal Expos for Fernando Seguignol and cash. Wetteland will help the Bombers to their first World Championship in 18 years in 1996.
1993: The Yankees provide the opposition in the final Opening Day game at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (AKA the Mistake by the Lake). The out-of-towners spoil the party with a 9-1 pummeling of the Tribe, with Jimmy Key getting the win. The Indians will move into Jacobs Field the following season.
1988: Before 55‚802 at the Stadium‚ the Yankees score 6 runs off Frank Viola in 5 innings to top the Twins 8-0. Rick Rhoden allows 3 hits in 9 innings for the win. Roberto Kelly and Willie Randolph have three hits each, while Jim Pagliarulo and Rickey Henderson belt homers.
1983: At Seattle‚ the Mariners open with a 5-4 win over the Yankees. Gaylord Perry makes his 9th Opening Day start‚ but the win goes to reliever Bryan Clark. Richie Zisk‚ a Yankee Opening Day nemesis‚ hits a two-run homer in Seattle’s 4-run 3rd inning to chase Ron Guidry. New York chases Perry in the 6th with back-to back homers by Dave Winfield and Steve Kemp. Steve Henderson scores the winner in the 7th when he hits his 3rd single‚ steals second‚ takes 3rd on a grounder and scores on a sac fly.
1979: At the Stadium, 52,719 fans see Milwaukee jump on Ron Guidry for four runs in the sixth inning en route to beating the Yankees 5-1. It’s the most runs the Cy Young Award winner has allowed in a game since 1977. New York get singles from their first three hitters, but manage to score just one run, in the first inning off Mike Caldwell.
1977: Over the objections of manager Billy Martin (who is entirely happy with the services of his current starting shortstop Fred ‘Chicken’ Stanley), the Yankees acquire shortstop Bucky Dent from the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Oscar Gamble, pitcher La Marr Hoyt, Bob Polinsky and an estimated $200,000. Dent will solidify New York’s middle infield and help the Yanks reach the World Series in 1977 and ’78. hitting one of the most celebrated home runs in Major League history along the way.
1972: For the first time in MLB history, the regular season fails to open due to the player strike which started on April 1st. 86 games will be lost before the labor dispute is settled.
1934: Babe Ruth, sponsored by Quaker Oats, agrees to do three 15-minute broadcasts a week over NBC. The total of $39,000 for 13 weeks is $4,000 more than his Yankees contract.
1925: ‘The bellyache heard round the world’. At spring training, the Yankees whip the Dodgers, 16-9, but all the headlines are about Babe Ruth. The Bambino collapses in the railroad station in Asheville, NC, and winds up in an NYC hospital. Ruth will undergo an operation for an ulcer on April 17 and will be bedridden until May 26.
1877: William ‘Wid’ Conroy, starting third baseman for the Highlanders’ first six seasons, is born.
2010: Former Yankee reliever Boone Logan is reassigned to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the Yankees and the Red Sox stage a classic battle to open the Major League season at Fenway Park, with the Sox winning, 9 – 7, after trailing 5 – 1 and 7 – 5. Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back homers in the 2nd and Brett Gardner steals home as the Yanks build an early lead against Josh Beckett, but a homer by Dustin Pedroia and three extra-base hits by Kevin Youkilis highlight the home side’s comeback. Chan Ho Park takes the loss in his Yankee debut, while Hideki Okajima is the winner.
2008: Alex Rodriguez (single), Jose Molina (double), Derk Jeter (triple) and Hideki Matsui (home run) combine for a team cycle in scoring four runs off Rays’ starter Andy Sonnanstine. Ian Kennedy’s somewhat less than stellar first season start puts the hosts in a 6-0 hole early on. The Yanks put up 4 runs in the 3rd, but any hopes of them continuing their comeback are dashed when Latroy Hawkins gives up another six in the 8th. John Flaherty advances the games-left counter from 78 to 77 in the fifth inning of the game ultimately won by the tourists 13-4.
1994: 56,706 fans attend Opening Day at the Stadium, making it the largest crowd ever at the Ballyard in the Bronx since its mid-’70s renovation. The throng are treated to a 5-3 win over Texas, with Jimmy Key besting Kevin Brown.
1989: On Opening Day, Yankees pitcher Tommy John ties a major league record by playing in his 26th season. John beats the Minnesota Twins, 4 - 2, for his 287th win, putting him 19th on the overall career win list.
1971: Carl Mays, Yankee ace of the early 1920s, dies at age 79.
Mays was one of the better pitchers of the 1910s and 1920s in the American League, but his reputation has been forever tainted by one
incident: he is the only major league pitcher who ever killed a batter with a pitch. The unfortunate victim was Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman, who was struck in the left temple on August 16, 1920 and died the following morning. Because Mays already had a reputation as a head-hunter and a generally unfriendly man, many blamed him for what he always claimed was an accident.
This trade would turn out to be the first of many cost-cutting moves by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee. The most famous of these would be the sale of Babe Ruth to the same Yankees at the end of the season. American League President Ban Johnson attempted to void the
trade, however, and demanded Mays be suspended for walking out on his team. The Yankees and Red Sox refused to comply. The case threatened to split the League in half, with Chicago siding with the Red Sox and Yankees, and the other five teams supporting Johnson. However, the three minority teams held control over the League’s board of directors and threatened to leave the league and join the National League. Ban Johnson was forced to step back in a move that marked his first major defeat since the creation of the American League in 1901, and Mays was allowed to join the Yankees.
Mays posted an excellent 1.65 ERA for the Yankees over the remainder of the 1919 season, collecting 9 wins in 13 starts, then stepped up as the team’s ace in 1920, winning 26 games. This is when the tragic beaning of the Indians’ Ray Chapman (below) occurred, in the 5th inning of a dark, overcast game at the Polo Grounds on August 16. Eye-witnesses say that Chapman probably never saw the pitch that hit him, as he never moved his head. Mays claimed that the ball was wet and scuffed, causing it to sail inside and high.
Opponents blamed Mays for the accident, with a number of teams petitioning Ban Johnson to have Mays banned from baseball. Mays spent a week in seclusion, the returned to the mound on August 23. He pitched a shutout on his return, and Cleveland went on to win the pennant and the World Series with rookie Joe Sewell taking Chapman’s place in the line-up.
In 1921, Mays went 27-9 in 49 games for the Yankees, as the team won the first American League pennant in its history. He pitched three complete games in the World Series against the cross-town New York Giants, but he was charged with two losses. There were doubts expressed about Mays’ performance in these games, with speculation that he may deliberately have lost these. Similar questions surfaced after Game 4 of the 1922 World Series, in which Mays was on the losing end of a 4-3 decision to Hugh McQuillan of the Giants when the Yankees won a second consecutive pennant in 1922. Mays had fallen to a 13-14 record in 1922, and following his questionable World Series performance, manager Miller Huggins tried unsuccessfully to dump him. When that failed, he stopped using him in 1923 as Mays only went 5-2 with an awful 6.20 ERA in 23 games. The Yankees and the Giants faced each other for the third consecutive year in the World Series, but this time, Mays was left on the bench as the Yankees won their first-ever World Championship. He was sold to the Cincinnati Reds after the season.
After his playing days, Mays was a scout for the Cleveland Indians for many years, as well as with the Kansas City A’s and the Milwaukee Braves.
The red-letter day:
2009: Yankee Stadium II opens for business with an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs.
On other 3rds of April…
2008: Phil Hughes begins what will prove to be a tough year, as he battles Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan to a 2-2 tie through six innings. Hughes strikes out two to close the 4th inning with yet another potential tally standing on third base. Before the game it is announced that Alex Rodriguez has been named the Sporting News Player of the Year, the 9th Yankee so recognized since the honour was first designated in 1936. Bobby Abreu makes up for a poor baserunning play in the 6th (he is gunned down at third on a sac fly that barely scored Derek Jeter) by driving in Melky Cabrera with the eventual winner in the 8th inning. Paul O’Neill advances the games left counter from 79 to 78 in the 5th.
2006: At McAfee Coliseum, the Yankees roll over the A’s 15-2 as Alex Rodriguez has a grand slam and 5 RBI. Hideki Matsui has 4 hits, including a 3-run homer, to drive in 4. Randy Johnson, with 7 IP, is the beneficiary of the offense. A’s starter Barry Zito joins Dave Stewart (1995) and Brad Havens (1983) as the only Opening Day starters since 1945 to give up seven or more runs and record just four outs. The A’s are wearing a right-sleeve arm patch on their home uniforms in memory of Bill King, their lead radio announcer since 1981. The patch features a microphone emblazoned with King’s name and his signature call, “Holy Toledo”.
2005: In his first outing in pinstripes, Randy Johnson allows a run and five hits in six innings as New York open the MLB season with a 9-2 triumph over the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, Hideki Matsui once again warms to the Opening Day spotlight, scoring three times, knocking in three, and collecting three, including a home run.
1984: After rain washed out yesterday’s opener at Royals Stadium, Yul Brynner tosses out the first ball and Kansas City open with a 4-2 win over the Yankees. The threat of snow holds the crowd to just 10,006. Starter Bud Black, with relief help from Dan Quisenberry, tops Ron Guidry, still winless in Openers. Onix Concepción hits Guidry’s first pitch of the year for a home run, while Dave Winfield has a two-run blast for the Yankees.
1969: Charley Stanceu (3rd from the right in the top row), a spot starter on the Yankees’ 1941 championship club, dies of a heart attack at the age of 53.
1929: Art Ditmar, pitcher for the 1958 Yankees championship club and 1957 AL pennant winner, is born – happy 85th, A.D.!
1923: One of the most bizarre off-the-field incidents in the history of the Yankees (or any other club) occurs in Jacksonville, Florida. New York outfielder Ping Bodie competes against an ostrich named Percy in a spaghetti-eating contest.
Bodie wins the competition when Percy passes
out after his 11th plate of pasta.
2001: On Opening Day, Roger Clemens becomes the all-time American
League career strike out leader, passing Walter Johnson. Kansas City
Royals infielder Joe Randa is his 3,509 Junior circuit victim. In
overtaking Johnson, Clemens now moves into the seventh spot on the
all-time major league list.
And on other 2nds of April…
2011: The Commissioner’s office demands that the Yankees stop relaying hand signals from the stands to their hitters at their home park, something which is expressly prohibited by a directive from Major League Baseball. GM Brian Cashman apologizes to Joe Garagiola Jr. and says the team will comply.
2003: Todd Zeile hits a home run in his first at-bat for the Yankees, becoming the only major leaguer to hit a home run for ten different teams. In addition to homering with the Yanks, Zeile had also gone deep for the Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers, Mets, and Rockies. In the game, Mike Mussina gets the 9-7 win for the Bombers.
2008: After a rain-out of the scheduled daytime opener the previous day, the Yankees begin their final campaign in the House that Ruth built with a night game. Reggie Jackson throws out the ceremonial first pitch, George Steinbrenner becomes the first of 81 honorary guests to advance the home games left counter, from 81 to 80, in the fifth inning. The Yanks prevail over Toronto 3-2 in a scintillating pitchers’ duel between Roy Halladay and Chien-Ming Wang. Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera preserve the win in the 8th and 9th inning.
2003: The Yankees defeat the Blue Jays 9-7 as Toronto shortstop Mike Bordick’s record streak for games without an error ends at 110. He boots Bubba Trammel’s grounder in the 3rd inning for his error after 544 chances without a miscue. Andy Pettitte picks up the win for the visiting Bombers.
1999: In one of his less dignified moments, George Steinbrenner flies into a rage when Hideki Irabu fails to cover first on a ground ball hit during an exhibition game‚ and calls the portly pitcher a “fat p***y toad.” Steinbrenner will later apologize to Irabu.
1998: The Angels put together a 4-run rally in the 4th to hand the Yankees a 4-1 opening day loss Matt Walbeck’s 2 run triple is the big hit in the game. Chuck Finley earns the win as he gives up a run on 4 hits and 6 walks in 7 IP‚ with 7 K’s. Chuck Knoblauch enters the record books as he plays his 1000th game at 2B and sets the AL record for highest career fielding percentage.
1996: Snow postpones the Yankee opener in Cleveland
1933: Babe Ruth makes his third appearance in Memphis and like the last 3 opening games‚ the Chicks defeat the Yankees, winning 5-4. Tomrrow the Yanks will win 6-0 behind Lefty Gomez. The Babe goes hitless, getting no good pitches to swing at.
2011: The Yankees have a successful opening day, beating Detroit 6-3 at the Stadium. Curtis Granderson, whose health was a concern before the start of the game because of a strained right oblique muscle, makes a diving catch of a Will Rhymes liner in the 1st, then breaks a 3 – 3 tie with a solo homer off Phil Coke in the 7th. Mark Teixera had earlier hit a three-run blast to tie the score in the 3rd. New Yankee starting catcher Russell Martin scores twice in his debut in pinstripes as Joba Chamberlain picks up the win and Mariano Rivera the save.
2006: The ball that Babe Ruth hit for his last home run at Yankee Stadium is sold for $86,250 at auction. The ball was hit off fellow Hall of Famer Walter Johnson in a war effort fund-raising exhibition game on August 23, 1942.
2004: The Yanks get a win in Tokyo and even their season record at 1-1 with a 12-1 demolition of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Two-run bombs from Tony Clark and local hero Hideki Matsui followed by the first of two Jorge Posada solo homers, stake Kevin Brown to a 6-1 lead.
2003: In the first of two consecutive Opening Day games played outside the United States, Roger Clemens rides a two-run Robin Ventura blast and an Alfonso Soriano grand slam to an 8-4 Yankee win in Toronto. The victory will come at a price, though, as Derek Jeter suffers a badly damaged shoulder in a collision with the knee pads of Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby at third. base. El Capitan will spend six weeks on the bench.
1992: Ken Silvestri, switch-hitting Yankee backup catcher of the ’40s, dies at the age of 75.
1980: Chien-Ming Wang is born. Happy 34th to the former Yankee, and all the best to a man who has had some tough breaks.
On the 29th of March down through the decades…
2005: The Yankees send pitcher Bret Prinz to the Angels in exchange for catcher Will Nieves
1997: The Yankees help the Braves open Turner Field in Atlanta with an exhibition game on falling to the hosts 2-0.
1996: The Yanks and Mets play home-and-home exhibitions in New York for their last two preseason games. The Bombers prevail in the opener today at the Stadium, 7-3.