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.
The red-letter days…
1998: The largest regular season crowd ever at the post-renovation original Stadium (56,717) look on as Tino Martinez leads the Yankees to an historic 17-13 win over the A’s. Martinez had 3 hits‚ including a double and HR‚ 5 RBI‚ and 4 runs. The teams combine for a Yankee Stadium record with 30 runs‚ topping the old record of 28 set on June 3‚ 1933. The Yankees’ 17 runs are the most in a home opener since 1955.
1913: President Woodrow Wilson‚ who receives a gold pass from Ban Johnson‚ throws out the first ball at Washington’s home opener at National Park against New York. Under new manager Frank Chance‚ the New Yorkers are playing their first regular season game as Yankees.
New York starter George McConnell‚ 8-12 last year as a 35-year-old rookie‚ allows just 6 hits but loses to Walter Johnson 2-1. Danny Moeller drives in both Nat runs with a single. After giving up an unearned run in the first‚ Johnson begins a string of shutout innings that will reach a record 55 2/3 before the St. Louis Browns score in the 4th on May 14th. Johnson scatters 8 hits today‚ including one by 1B Charlie Sterrett. Regular first sacker Hal Chase‚ though left-handed‚ fills in at second base for injured player/manager Frank Chance.
On other 10ths of April…
2011: In the nationally-televised Sunday-night game, the Red Sox shut out the Yankees at Fenway 4-0, thanks to a dominating performance by Josh Beckett, who gives up only 2 hits in 8 innings while striking out 10. The Red Sox strand 16 baserunners but manage to scratch out a run off CC Sabathia on Mike Cameron’s infield single in the 3rd, before tacking on a few insurance runs late in the game. Beckett and Jonathan Pabelbon combine to retire the final 17 New York batters in order.
2010: CC Sabathia flirts with a no-hit bid, before giving up a two-out single to the Rays’ Kelly Shoppach in the 8th inning. Having reached his pitch count limit, he then exits the game, but is credited with the Yanks’ 10-0 win.
2005: The Orioles contribute to the Yankees’ poor start with a 7-2 victory at the Stadium. Carl ‘American Idle’ Pavano, making one of his few starts in pinstripes, allows six singles over 8 innings, as well as a homer to Brian Roberts. Rodrigo Lopez gets the win for the Birds.
1991: Scott Sanderson hurls 8 no-hit innings against the Tigers in his first appearance as a Yankee. He surrenders a wind-blown double to Tony Phillips on his first pitch of the 9th‚ and is replaced by Greg Cadaret‚ who finishes the 1-hitter for a 4-0 Bomber victory.
1989:The Yankees are victims of Dave Stieb’s third one-hitter in his last four starts (dating back to the previous September) as they fall to the Blue Jays, 8-0. Jamie Quirk’s 5th inning single is the Bombers’ only safety.
1982: The Yankees trade relief pitcher Ron Davis and minor leaguers Paul Boris and Greg Gagne to the Twins for veteran infielder Roy Smalley. Gagne hit .270 and .297 over the past two seasons at Greensboro.
1980: At Arlington Stadium‚ Jon Matlack and Ron Guidry both pitch shutout ball for 9 innings before being lifted. In the 12th‚ Goose Gossage relieves with Mickey Rivers on 3rd and Richie Zisk at the plate. His first pitch is wild, allowing Rivers to score the game’s only run. Gossage also lost the ’78 Opener when Zisk took him deep in the 9th. Each team manages just 4 hits in the contest with Bob Watson and Bob Sundberg each collecting three of them
1976: Having failed to hear the time-out call of 1st baseman Chris Chambliss, Yankee reliever Dave Pagan delivers a 9th-inning pitch to the Brewers’ Don Money, who hits it for a grand slam and an apparent Milwaukee 10-9 walkoff win. The time-out nullifies the homer, Money hits a sac fly on the subsequent pitch, and the visitors will prevail 9-7.
1969: Frank Howard bangs a pair of homers‚ giving him 4 in 3 games‚ in the Senators 9-6 win over the Yankees. Fritz Peterson gives up 10 hits and 6 runs in taking the loss. For the Yanks‚ Frank Fernandez hits a pair of homers‚ one a grand slam.
1968: In New York‚ just 15‚744 Yankee faithful show up for the home opener with California. Poet Marianne Moore tosses out the first ball and rookie catcher Frank Fernandez catches it.
Fernandez then belts a home run off George Brunet for the margin of victory, as Mel Stottlemyre gets the win‚ 1-0. Fernandez has one of three hits off Brunet‚ while Stottlemyre allows just four hits. This is one of four shutouts (out of ten games) pitched on Opening Day.
1963: The Yankees follow an 8-2 opening day victory yesterday with a 5-3 win today at Kansas City. The 45*F weather takes its toll‚ as Yankee starter Bill Stafford leaves in the 7th inning with a twinge in his right arm‚ and will never be quite the same. Mickey Mantle homers but pulls a muscle in his last at bat that he will re-injure on the 13th‚ sidelining him for 2 weeks.
1962: At the Stadium‚ Mickey Mantle‚ Roger Maris‚ and Moose Skowron‚ the three Yankees who combined for 143 homers last season‚ hit Opening Day blasts to propel New York to a come-from-behind 7-6 win over Baltimore. Moose’s shot is a two-run job to dead center that he legs out for an inside-the -park homer‚ while Mantle hits his in the 8th inning to tie the game‚ Maris hits a 3-run shot in the 5th. Johnny Temple‚ in his first game for the O’s‚ has three hits‚ including a homer. Starters Billy Hoeft and Whitey Ford are gone after six innings‚ and the win goes to Ralph Terry‚ while Hal Brown takes the loss.
1946: Bob Watson, 1b-DH for the 1980-81 Yankees, and general manager of the team in 1996-97, is born. Happy 68th, Bob!
1940: In an exhibition game in Ashland‚ KY‚ the Yankees collect only 2 hits off Max Macon and Newt Kimball but beat the Dodgers‚ 7-6. The scoring comes in the 4th on a Red Rolfe (below) single‚ 4 walks‚ and 2 errors‚ and in the 6th on Babe Dahlgren’s solo home run. The Yanks do lose Jake Powell‚ who suffers a cerebral concussion in an outfield collision. Powell will play just 12 games this season.
1934: Author and historian David Halberstam is born. Halberstam was also a lifelong Yankee fan who penned excellent accounts of the 1949 pennant race (‘Summer of ’49) and the 1964 World Series (October, 1964). He died in 2007, age 73.
1928: The Brooklyn Robins beat the Yankees‚ 7-2‚ to earn a split in their 4 game series. The World Champions end their exhibition season with a 6-14 record‚ going 3-10 against major-league competition.
2004: The Yankees and Joe Torre agree to a three-year contract extension. The contract also includes an additional six-year deal in which the 62-year old manager will serve as an advisor to the team through the 2013 season. That adjunct to the deal will never be implemented.
1996: Before an estimated crowd of 50‚000 for the home opener with Kansas City‚ the Yankees snowball the Royals‚ 7-3‚ behind Andy Pettitte. The final tally is 7 runs‚ 10 hits‚ and 2 inches – of snow. The day will have a second highlight when the Yankee front office offer a free ticket to one of three upcoming games to all who had suffered through the conditions. (Some cynics will draw attention to the fact that the tickets are offered only to games against opponents not expected to draw well in the Bronx).
1990: After weeks of sometimes tense negotiations, Don Mattingly signs a five-year deal for almost $20 million. It will be his last player contract.
1989: Rickey Henderson steals his 800th career base, though the Yankees fall 4-3 to the the Indians.
1985: David Robertson is born. Happy 29th to D-Rob!
1981: Before 55‚123 at the Stadium‚ the Yankees gun down the Rangers‚ 10-3. Bucky Dent and Bobby Murcer hit homers‚ with Randolph following Murcer’s blow with a triple. Dave Winfield‚ in his New York debut‚ has two hits and two walks‚ and Tommy John scatters 7 hits in 8 innings to win over Jon Matlack.
1971: The A’s trade outfielder/first baseman Felipe Alou to the Yankees for pitchers Rob Gardner and Ron Klimkowski. Klimkowski will come back to the Yankees next year and Gardner will return in 6 weeks.
1967: Graeme Lloyd is born. Thanks for the ’96 October magic, Graeme, and happy 47th!
1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson joins 47‚878 fans for the opening of Harris County Domed Stadium (better known as the Astrodome). The Astros win an exhibition with the Yankees 2-1 in 12 innings on a Nellie Fox single. Mickey Mantle hits the first home run in the new park.
1963: In the Opener at Kansas City‚ Ralph Terry pitches a complete game 8-2 win for the Yankees. Led by Joe Pepitone’s two homers and a double‚ New York collect 13 hits. Elston Howard adds a homer off A’s starter Diego Segui.
1953: In an exhibition game at Forbes Field‚ Mickey Mantle gets all of a Bill MacDonald curve and hits it over the right field roof‚ joining Babe Ruth and Ted Beard as the only hitters to accomplish that since the upper deck was added in 1925. Ruth’s homer over the structure was the 714th and last of his career.
1947: Commissioner Happy Chandler suspends Brooklyn Dodgers’ manager Leo Durocher for the entire season for incidents detrimental to baseball. Larry MacPhail and the Dodger organization are fined $2‚000 each‚ and Yankee coach Charley Dressen is sent down for 30 days. A feud involving Durocher‚ MacPhail‚ and Dodger officials rocked the training season. The Yankees’ signing of Dressen and Red Corriden‚ longtime Brooklyn coaches‚ charges of consorting with Cuban gamblers against MacPhail‚ and charges and counter charges that Durocher had sought – or been offered – the Yankee managerial post were included in the hearing
1916: The Yankees turn down an offer by the Red Sox to trade Tris Speaker for cash and Fritz Maisel (below). Boston will ultimately swap the star outfielder, who did not take well to the notion of his salary being cut‚ to Cleveland, for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas and $50‚000. Speaker will hold out for $10‚000 of the purchase price: AL President Ban Johnson will finally intervene and Speaker will collect.
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.