MLB Opening Day 2021: Ranking the 21 Best Opening Days of the Last 100 Years
It’s something magical on Opening Day, right?
It’s the start of a new season. Hope is eternal. The excitement of what might happen is intoxicating. We’re waiting to be amazed, and if we don’t focus on a particular laser band, we rarely give up.
So to kick off the 2021 season, let’s take a look at the 21 most spectacular individual performances of baseball’s Opening Day in the last 100 years.
A quick note: This list is about general performances, not moments. If historical importance was a key factor if it were about a few moments, the list would start with these three …
1. Jackie Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier in 1947
2. Hank Aaron associated Babe Ruth with her 714th homer in 1974
3. Babe Ruth opened Yankee Stadium in 1923 with Homer
But that’s for another list.
For this, both home runs are better than one, and 10 out of 10 of 10 points, we’ve given it a bit of added weight for performances that have helped a team of one player win a close game, especially dramas at the end of innings. I mean, we had to have a way to differentiate between 16 players who had six RBIs on Opening Day. Speaking of which, I would like to apologize to Eric Hosmer for not making this list after six RBI days to kick off 2020; his Fathers won five runs.
21. Randy Johnson, Mariners, 1993
Why it’s here: Here’s a moving / non-moving statistic: Only five times in MLB history has a starting pitcher thrown at least 14 batels on Opening Day, and Randy Johnson has two of those 14K games. He made it to 1993 for the first time, impressing with 14 innings, while admitting seven hits and one run. In ’96, Johnson pulled out 14 of seven innings, allowing three hits and two runs.
20. Matt Davidson, White Sox, 2018
Why it’s here: Due to three home runs, he hit Royal. Davidson was the fourth player in MLB history to pull out three home runs on Opening Day. We will not ruin the list by naming others here.
19. Carlton Fisk, Red Sox, 1973
Why it’s here: In his first three years as AL Rookie of the Year in 1972, Fisk got a homer, a double and a homer, in that order. The first return was a two-run shot, and the second was a big boat, helping the Red Sox escape the Yankees when they beat Boston 15-5.
18. Brant Alyea, Twins, 1970
Why it’s here: This, folks, makes a good first impression. Alyea moved from Senators to Twins on March 21, 1970. Less than three weeks later, in his first game of the regular season with the club, Alyea became the first player in MLB history to record seven RBIs on Opening Day. He had an RBI single in the first, a three-run homer in the fifth and another three runs in the seventh.
17. Sam Horn, Orioles, 1990
Why it’s here: Remember how Sam Horn had high hopes that all Red Sox fans would explode in the stands of Fenway 50 home a year? That never materialized, and Boston cut it off after the 1989 season. Starting the 1990 campaign with rival AL East Baltimore, Red Sox fans had to ask if their team had made a huge mistake. Oriolarra was in that first game, going Horn 4 and 5 with two home runs (three including his first pull in his first AB) and six RBIs. He scored the second three times in the eighth inning, tying the competition 6-6. Baltimore eventually won 7-7 in 11 innings.
16. Tom Glavine, Braves, 1992
Why it’s here: Glavin won the Cy Young Award for the NL in 1991 and the 1992 season began as he decided to win another (spoiler: Greg Maddux took second place to future teammate). In his 92nd debut, Glavine gave up one single in the first and another in the second and then didn’t give up another game in the rest of the game. Glavin gave up a couple of walks and pulled out nine in a 103-yard effort.
15. Dmitri Young, Tigers, 2005
Why it’s here: Young had five plate appearances on Inauguration Day and reached the base five times to safety. He hit home runs in the second and third innings, and then hit the fifth field. In the seventh, he played solo and in the eighth, he took his third home game. Last numbers in the box score: 4 AB, 4 R, 4 H, 5 RBI. Not very mediocre.
14. Sixto Lezcano, Brewers, 1980
Why it’s here: Lezcano would arrive a great year for beers; He hit .321 with 28 home runs, 101 RBI and 5.6 bWARs, all of which were the best careers. After this opening day performance, he had an even better year at the pace. Lezcano tied the game in the fourth with Dennis Eckersley’s two knockouts. Milwaukee took a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning when the Red Sox tied the game in the individual draws of Carl Yastrzemski and Butch Hobson. With two exits and the bases loaded at the bottom of the ninth, Lezkano climbed up and hit a big line on the right field, the first grand slam session in MLB Opening Day history.
13. George Bell, Blue Jays, 1988
Why it’s here: Ding, ding, ding! No one ever hit three houses until Bell got the feat on Opening Day, the first game he was named in the 1987 AL MVP. Even more spectacular: all three came out with Bret Saberhagen, who won the AL Cy Young Award in 1985 to the right of KC, which he would do again in 1989. The third homer, in the eighth inning, drew 3-3 in a match that Blue Jays won 5-3.
12. Don Drysdale, Dodgers, 1960
Why it’s here: Drysdale was only 23 years old in the 1960 season, but this was already his third opening day for the Dodgers. The first two didn’t come out so well; he allowed 11 races to win in 8 2/3 combined innings. In this one, however, he only allowed two races in 11 innings. Lots of numbers, though? That day he aired 14 cubs.
11. Minnie Minoso, White Sox, 1960
Why it’s here: Minoso did his part to keep the White Sox from playing dramatic late inings, running with a fly sacrifice at the second inning and breaking a big slam in the fourth. That put Chicago, 9-2, but Ak backed down, tying the game at the top of the ninth inning. Minoso corrected the bottom half of that frame and tidied up the first field he saw on the fence to beat the ChiSox 10-9.
10. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 2013
Why it’s here: Kershaw took out a Maddux and a MadBum in the same game, and made it to the opening day! He only needed 94 pitches to knock out the Giants in four strokes and seven strokes (any under-100 pitch is “Maddux”), and in the eighth inning he made a home run (like MadBum) in the first run. of the ball game. Bravo.
9. Camilo Pascual, Senators, 1960
Why it’s here: I think there was something about the opening of the 1960 season. We’ve already talked about Drysdale and Minoso, and now about this: Pascual was at least battered at each entrance. He made two hits in the sixth and eighth innings and three in the second and fourth innings. All of Boston’s beginners hit at least once, with Pete Runnels (who averaged .320 averaging the AL that year) and Ted Williams, who went 1-2 with the home side. If Pascual repeatedly hit Williams, he might be No. 1 on this list.
8. Raul Mondesi, Dodgers, 1999
Why it’s here: Mondesi makes the list because of his latest heroes, but let’s not forget Randy Johnson’s RBI single in the first AB of the season. When Mondesi reached the plate at the bottom of the ninth, two came out and two came in, behind their Dodgers, 6-3. With the score at 3-0, Mondesi made an offer to Gregg Olson and parked it on the wall in the left line. Draw game. Additional tickets. On the 11th, Mondesi’s turn came again with two playoffs, and he delivered again, with a two-run homer to beat the Dodgers 8-6. Final count: four hits, two home runs, six RBI.
7. Shane Bieber, Indians, 2020
Why it’s here: After a long delay in the coronavirus pandemic until the start of the 2020 season, we all had to see something amazing as soon as baseball started again and Bieber delivered. He made six “only” innings, threw 97 pitches, but on that day, July 24, he pulled out 14 of the 23 Kansas City battalions he faced.
6. Tuffy Rhodes, Cubs, 1994
Why it’s here: Maybe there’s a little personal bias that affects this ranking. It happened when I was 18, and I was amazed that a guy named Tuffy Rhodes could hit three houses against Dwight Gooden on opening day. My love of baseball didn’t need cement at that point in my life, but something like that was something I loved about the idea of what could happen on any random day in this wonderful sport.
5. Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 1967
Why it’s here: In the 1967 season he gave up about five balls, while Gibson made five attacks. Pretty impressive, even more so considering that two of those five were Willie Mays and Willie McCovey Hall of Fame (yes, huge young fans, they gave their name to what was once San Francisco Creek). Gibson eventually gave permission for the contact and also achieved some success, but in a five-stroke outing he pulled out 13 bats, outscoring his classmate Juan Marichal in the Hall of Fame.
4. Jim Presley, Mariners, 1986
Why it’s here: All the drama of Mondesi, but with a spectacular cherry on top. Like Mondesi, Presley equalized in his ninth home game (a two-run shot) to send in extra games. And like Mondesi, Presley won the game with a home run. This, though? It was a grand slam walk, with the opening day of six two-homer RBIs.
3. Gee Walker, Tigers, 1937
Why it’s here: I did a feat where to put this feat. It’s a cycle, so it’s cool, but not necessarily weird (330 MLB history, none in the short 2020 season). The cycle mattered – his Tigers beat Cleveland 4-3. So how about this nugget: It’s one of 10 reverse natural cycles in MLB history. What is that? Walker got a homer on his first AB, a triple up for the second time, a double on his third trip to the plate and closed out his day with a single seventh inning. That’s why it’s in the top five.
2. Walter Johnson, Senator, 1926
Why it’s here: For a moment, imagine how Baseball Twitter would react to a pitcher who threw 15 basketballs on opening day. That would be almost as much fun as seeing The Big Train dominate the beatings against opponents. Take it.
1. Bob Feller, Indians, 1940
Why it’s here: I mean, he doesn’t play any. I’ve looked at a couple of other similar lists and none of them were Feller’s no-hitter No. 1. It’s Opening Day, Opening Day. On April 25, 1940, The Sporting News magazine photographed Feller with his parents and sister, having dinner at a restaurant after the achievement. TSN directed a story, including this episode:
“Three times earlier, Iowa’s youthful pride was part of a success with that goal, and it finally flourished in the home game to be the first pitcher in the first century and only in the second. The history of the two major leagues was different. The performance added a touch of drama to the parents. and because their sister was there to witness the achievement ”.