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This Day in Baseball History
April 4th

39 Fact(s) Found
1911 Hugh Chalmers, an auto manufacturer, introduces and sponsors the Most Valuable Player award. The first winners, selected by a vote of one baseball writer representing each franchise in the league, will be Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb and Cubs pitcher Frank Schulte.

1911 Cubs Outfielder Frank Schulte
American Tobacco Company Card
Library of Congress - Benjamin K. Edwards Collection

1918 The Phillies trade infielder Bert Niehoff (.255, 2, 42) and send cash to the Cardinals for rookie right-hander Mule Watson. Niehoff will play just one more season before retiring, while Watson will pitch two seasons with Philadelphia, posting a 7-11 record before being traded to the Braves.
1948 Before an exhibition game in Orlando, with an ambulance driving the two participants, accompanied by a doctor and a pair of nurses, to the starting line, 84-year-old A's manager Connie Mack challenges Clark Griffith, the 78-year-old owner of the Senators, to a foot race. The sprint from third base to home plate will end in a tie, which Commissioner Happy Chandler, who officiated the affair, describes as "a dead heat."
1966 On the nationally-televised Hullabaloo, a program that showcases rock and roll groups, host Soupy Sales and his two sons, Tony and Hunt, perform Meet the Mets, with the unlikely tune accompanied by go-go dancers halfway through the song. The Sales' children appeared on the program as guest musicians, featuring their rock and roll band, Tony and the Tigers.

1968 Due to today's assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, most major league teams postponed their Opening Day games for five days, resuming after the reverend's funeral in five days. Surprisingly, at first, the Dodgers are the notable exception, even though the Phillies, their opponents on April 9, say they will forfeit rather than play on the national day of mourning.
1971 The Phillies dedicated the newly constructed Veterans Stadium, a name the Philadelphia City Council selected to honor United States veterans of all wars. The new ballpark will be harshly criticized for its upper deck's height and for many of its seats being so distant from the field that it is difficult to enjoy the game without binoculars.

1974 On Opening Day in Cincinnati, Hank Aaron, in front of a crowd of 52,000 at Riverfront Stadium, tied Babe Ruth's all-time home run record of 714 by hitting a first-inning two-run homer off Jack Billingham. The Atlanta front office had considered keeping 'Hammerin' Hank' on the bench during road games so the slugger could try to equal the mark in front of the hometown fans, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the Braves to put the outfielder into the lineup for at least two of the three games against the Reds.

1978 The Expos reveal their new mascot, Souki, an odd-looking character wearing an Expos uniform below a giant baseball head with antennae. The Mr. Met-like figure, whose rights sell for fifty dollars, will be released after one season after proving unpopular with the fans due to his strange looks and quirky behavior.

1988 In a 10-6 victory over the Expos, Kevin McReynolds and Darryl Strawberry each hit a pair of home runs, helping the Mets establish an Opening Day record with six homers. The 'Strawman's' second shot, estimated at 525 feet, hits above the dome's light rim and is believed to be the longest dinger ever stroked at Olympic Stadium.
1988 Blue Jay designated hitter George Bell becomes the first player to hit three home runs on Opening Day, helping Toronto defeat Kansas City at Royals Stadium, 5-3. The second, fourth, and eighth-inning round-trippers are all given up by Bret Saberhagen.

1989 Tommy John ties a record on Opening Day by playing in 26 seasons. The Yankee veteran hurler beats the Twins, 4-2, for his 287th win, putting him 19th overall in career victories.
1994 A total of 56,706 fans attend Opening Day, making it the largest crowd ever at the new Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers do not disappoint the faithful when Jimmy Key beats Kevin Brown and the Rangers, 5-3.
1994 In the inaugural game played at Jacobs Field, President Bill Clinton throws out the first ball, and 'El Presidente' Dennis Martinez throws the first pitch when the Indians defeat the Mariners in 11 innings, 4-3. With Bob Feller, the author of the only Opening Day no-hitter game in major league history, in attendance, Mariner southpaw Randy Johnson holds the Tribe hitless for the first seven innings.

1994 Eddie Murray becomes baseball's all-time leader in games played at first base, covering the bag in 2,369 major league contests to surpass the mark set by Jake Beckley, a Hall of Famer whose career spanned from 1888 to 1907. After the top of the first inning, the 38-year-old Indian infielder carries the bag off the field, keeping it as a souvenir.
1994 On Opening Day at Wrigley Field, in the Cubs' 12-8 loss to New York, Tuffy Rhodes, who had hit only five round-trippers in his first 280 major league at-bats, blasts three home runs on Opening Day, becoming the first player to homer in his first three at-bats of the season. The three solo round-trippers, all off Mets right-hander Dwight Gooden, will account for nearly half of the outfielder's total for the year when he finishes the campaign with only eight round-trippers.

1994 Before the Cubs' 12-8 Opening Day loss to the Mets at Wrigley Field, First Lady Hillary Clinton becomes the first wife of a sitting president to throw the season's ceremonial first pitch. Bill's spouse then joins Harry Caray in the broadcast booth and sings "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" with the beloved announcer during the seventh-inning stretch.

1998 En route to shattering the single-season mark for home runs, Mark McGwire homers in his fourth consecutive game to tie Willie Mays' 1971 mark for most homers to start a season. Big Mac's sixth-inning three-run Busch Stadium blast helps the Cardinals beat the Padres, 8-6.
1999 Opening Day starts in Mexico, making it the first time baseball's first pitch comes outside the U.S. or Canada when the Rockies defeat the National League's defending champs Padres, 8-2. Darryl Kile goes 6â…“ innings to win the Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey contest.
2000 At Safeco Field, Darren Lewis plays right field in Boston's 2-0 victory over Seattle. The 32-year-old outfielder is the 13th different Red Sox player to start in that position on Opening Day for the past thirteen years.
2001 For the first time since June 7, 1995, the Indians do not have a sellout crowd at Jacobs Field. The streak of 455 games of consecutive full houses, a major league record, will be broken by the Boston Red Sox in 2008.
2001 Hideo Nomo, throwing the earliest no-hitter in major league history, blanks the Orioles, 3-0 at Camden Yards in his first start in a Red Sox uniform. Second baseman Mike Lansing makes an outstanding play with one out in the ninth to preserve the Japanese-born hurler's second career no-hitter.

2001 Vinny Castilla launches the longest home run at Tropicana Field when he hits a Joey Hamilton pitch 478 feet over the domed stadium's left-field fence. The Devil Rays' third baseman's third-inning three-run blast isn't enough to overcome the three round-trippers clobbered by Carlos Delgado in the team's 11-8 loss to the Blue Jays.
2003 At Cincinnati's new Great American Ball Park, Sammy Sosa becomes the first Latin American player and the 18th to hit 500 career home runs. 'Slammin' Sammy' reaches the milestone in the seventh inning when he drives a Scott Sullivan 1-2 pitch into the right-field seats.
2003 The Coneheads stage a reunion at Shea Stadium as David Cone returns to the mound after taking a year off and hurls an impressive five innings of shutout ball in the Mets' 4-0 victory over the Expos. In memory of one of the founders of this unique group, started in 1988 based on an SNL skit, the group hangs a banner featuring a picture of Scott Saber, killed during the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, wearing his Conehead.

2005 Dmitri Young becomes the third major leaguer to hit three home runs on Opening Day, joining George Bell (Blue Jays, 1988) and Tuffy Rhodes (Cubs, 1994). The 31-year-old Tiger DH's hat trick contributes to the team's 11-2 rout of the Royals at Comerica Park.

2006 Rain postpones a Padres home game for the first time since May 12, 1998, a span of 635 consecutive home games, mostly played at Qualcomm Stadium. The 16th rainout in the franchise's 38-year history becomes the first washout at the club's new home, Petco Park, which opened two seasons ago.
2006 Kansas City voters approve a $250 million proposal to renovate Kauffman Stadium. The facelift of the 35-year-old home of the Royals will include the addition of dugout suites, new clubhouses, an exclusive restaurant, and the replacement of the orange seats throughout the stadium with new blue ones.
2007 Tuffy Rhodes becomes the first non-Japanese player in Nippon Pro Baseball history to drive in a thousand runs. Only two of the 28 players who have reached the milestone have accomplished the feat in fewer games.
2008 Carried by his momentum trying to avoid the pitch, Astros catcher J.R. Towles does a handstand at home plate after getting hit above the knee during the second inning in Houston's 4-3 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. In his next at-bat, the 24-year-old-backstop from Crosby (TX) hits a two-run homer, a feat he accomplishes standing on his feet.
2008 Before their home opener, the Blue Jays announce reaching agreements with outfielder Alex Rios (.297, 24, 85) and second baseman Aaron Hill (.291, 17, 78). With the contract extension that begins next season, the 26-year-old Toronto fly-catcher will earn nearly $70 million over the next seven years, the second richest deal in franchise history, and the club's newly signed infielder, also 26, inks a four-year contract worth $12 million.
2008 With fans chanting "Robbie, Robbie" before the home opener against Boston, the Blue Jays honor Roberto Alomar by inducting their former All-Star second baseman into the Toronto Level of Excellence. After the team plays a video montage of his career highlights in a darkened Rogers Centre, the dramatic pregame ceremony continues when a spotlight shines on second base, revealing the honoree.
2012 Joey Votto and the Reds agree to the longest guaranteed contract in major league history, a $251.5 million, 12-year deal. Second, only to A-Rod's $275 million and $252 million pacts with the Rangers and Yankees, the dollar amount easily surpasses Ken Griffey Jr.'s nine-year, $116.5 million deal signed in 2000 as the richest in franchise history.
2014 Charlie Blackmon ties a team record established by Andres Galarraga in 1995, collecting six hits in the Rockies' 12-2 rout of Arizona in the team's home opener at Coors Field. The 27-year-old platoon outfielder is the first major leaguer to collect three doubles, two singles, and a home run in a major league game.
2016 The Dodgers hand the Padres the worst Opening Day shutout loss since at least 1913, and most likely in the game's history, blanking the Friars at Petco Park, 15-0. The contest marked both skippers' managerial debut, with LA's Dave Roberts and San Diego's Padres Andy Green piloting their first major league game.
2016 Although Felix Hernandez limits the Rangers to just one hit, the Mariner right-hander loses for the first time on Opening Day, snapping a streak of six victories to start his team's season. Seattle had the opportunity to become the first franchise in modern baseball history to win ten consecutive season openers, but sloppy defense allowed three fifth-inning runs in the club's 3-2 defeat to Texas at Globe Life Park.
2016 Trevor Story becomes the first player to hit two home runs in his first regular-season game on Opening Day and the fifth rookie to accomplish the feat in his major league debut. The 23-year-old Rockies shortstop hit both round-trippers off Diamondbacks' ace Zack Greinke, a three-run home run in the third and a solo shot in the following frame of the team's 10-5 victory over Arizona at Chase Field.
2017 Stephen Piscotty's dangerous journey around the base paths ends when he crosses the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring the Cardinals' only run in the team's 2-1 loss to the Cubs at Busch Stadium. After reaching first due to being hit by a pitch, the outfielder, attempting to take second on a wild pitch, gets nailed in the elbow by the catcher's throw, and he is struck on the helmet, sliding into home plate with an errant throw by the second baseman. (Our thanks to J. Mahon for suggesting this entry.)

2021 In his major league debut, southpaw-swinging Akil Baddoo hits the first pitch he sees for a home run, becoming the ninth player in Tiger history to homer in his first at-bat. The 22-year-old rookie outfielder joins Hack Miller (1944), Sam Vico (1948), Gates Brown (1963), Bill Rowan (1964), Gene Lamont (1970), Reggie Sanders (1974), Daniel Norris (2015), and Sergio Alcantara (2020), with only Vico also going deep on the first pitch to accomplish the feat.
2021 Angels' right-hander Shohei Ohtani hits and pitches in the same game for the first time in his major league career, striking out seven White Sox players over 4.2 innings and blasting a 451-foot home run on the first pitch he sees in the opening frame. The 25-year-old Oshu (JP) native, the first hurler to bat second in the lineup since 1903, becomes the first starter to go yard against an American League opponent since the final day of the 1972 season, the Junior Circuit's last day without a designated hitter.

39 Fact(s) Found