At Brooklyn’s Washington Park, Boston Beaneater rookie Johnny Bates becomes the first modern player to homer in his first major league at-bat. The 23-year-old outfielder connects off Harry McIntire in the top of the second inning in the team’s 2-0 Opening Day victory over the Superbas.
The 61-year history of Shibe Park begins with the A's defeating the Red Sox, 8-1. The Philadelphia stadium, renamed to honor Connie Mack in 1953, is the first concrete and steel ballpark in major league history.
Shibe Park (1909)
Library of Congress - George Grantham Bain Collection
On Opening Day, the Giants begin the season with a 5-4 loss to the Phillies at the Baker Bowl. The game marks the debut of New York's new purple plaid uniforms, fortunately, a trend that will last only a year.
Giants' first baseman Bill Terry becomes the first major leaguer to hit a grand slam on Opening Day. The New York infielder's four-run round-tripper comes off Phillies' right-hander Hal Carlson in the fifth inning of the team's 15-7 victory at Baker Bowl.
Former Cubs pilot Joe McCarthy debuts as the Yankee manager, beating Boston at the Bronx ballpark, 6-3. The future Hall of Fame manager, the team's all-time leader in managerial wins with 1460, guides the club to eight pennants and seven World Championships during his 16-year tenure in the Bronx.
The Yankees name Lou Gehrig to be the fifth captain in team history. The 33-year-old first baseman joins Hal Chase (1912), Roger Peckinpaugh (1914-1921), Babe Ruth (six days in 1922), and Everett Scott (1922-1925) to receive the honor as a player.
(Our thanks to Howard W. Rosenberg of www.capanson.com for calling attention to the entry's incorrect date, commonly mistaken for April 21st).
During an exhibition game in Brooklyn, the Ebbets Field PA announcer informs the crowd, including the new dad, when he approaches home plate to bat, "Mickey doesn't know it yet, but he has just become the father of an eight-pound, twelve-ounce baby boy." Mickey Mantle Jr., whose middle name is Elven in memory of the Yankee slugger's recently deceased dad, is the first of four children, all sons, with his wife, Merlyn.
Pinch-hitting for Braves' southpaw Warren Spahn, Chuck Tanner, who becomes better known for his managerial skills, hits a home run on the first pitch he sees in the major leagues. The 26-year-old outfielder's eighth-inning round-tripper off Gerry Staley ties the score in Milwaukee's eventual 4-2 victory over Cincinnati at County Stadium.
At Municipal Stadium, the recently arrived Athletics beat the Tigers, 6-2, in their first game in Kansas City. At first, the Missouri fans will warmly receive the franchise's shift from Philadelphia as the A's draw 1,393,054 patrons to the ballpark in their first season, second only to the Yankees in the American League.
In front of a standing-room crowd of 32,147 at Kansas City's Municipal Stadium, 70-year-old former US president Harry Truman throws out the ceremonial first pitch as a southpaw before the A's take the field in their first home game in the City of Fountains. The enthusiastic fans support the transplanted team from Philadelphia with a large civic parade before the newcomers take a 6-2 decision from the Tigers.
In the first game ever played at San Francisco's Candlestick Park, after Vice President Richard Nixon throws out the ceremonial first pitch, Giants' starter Sam Jones three-hits the Cardinals, 3-1. During the third inning, the umpires noticed that both foul poles were positioned well inside fair territory, necessitating improvising a new ground rule until the team corrects the problem.
The Indians trade Norm Cash to the Tigers in exchange for Steve Demeter. The Tribe, who acquired Cash in the off-season from the White Sox, will regret the move, giving away a future American League batting champ, who will hit 373 homers during his 15 years in Detroit, in exchange for a third baseman who plays only four games with the franchise.
In front of 40,000 fans, the expansion Mets are honored with a ticker-tape parade up lower Broadway. The players, wearing their brand new home uniforms, broadcasters, and other officials ride in open convertibles, throwing plastic baseballs to the enthusiastic crowd as they drive by.
Making his major league debut, Pete Richert emerges from the bullpen and strikes out the first six batters he faces, a major league record. The rookie southpaw fans four in the third inning in LA's 11-7 comeback victory over the Reds at Dodger Stadium.
Joe Torre hits two home runs in Milwaukee's 4-2 Opening Day victory at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. Next season on the same date, the Braves catcher will do it again, joining teammate Eddie Mathews as the only major leaguers to hit two round-trippers twice in games played on Opening Day.
At the Astrodome, the Astros lose the first regular-season indoor game to the Phillies 2-0. Houston third baseman Bob Aspromonte, who collected the first Houston hit in Colt Stadium in 1962, also gets the first hit in the Astrodome, and Dick Allen of the Phillies blasts the first National League homer in the 'Eighth Wonder of the World.'
The A's mascot Charlie-O the Mule, chosen to spotlight the role Missouri mules played in the Allies' victory in World War I by lugging ammunition and supplies through the mud and snow of France, makes his debut on Opening Night at Kansas City's Municipal Stadium. In a pregame ceremony, Warren Hearnes, the governor of Missouri, presents the 1,400-pound animal to team owner Charlie O. Finley, who rides his namesake much to the delight of the 18,109 fans attending the game against the Tigers.
Atlanta's first-ever major league game goes overtime when Pittsburgh beats the hometown Braves, 3-2. With the game deadlocked at 1-1 in the top of the thirteenth inning, starter Tony Cloninger, who will go the distance, gives up a two-run homer to Willie Stargell.
On Opening Day, Jim Lonborg's 13th-inning balk plates Bob Johnson with the deciding run in Baltimore's 5-4 victory. The Red Sox reliever's miscue on the mound occurs with two outs and the bases loaded at Fenway Park.
On Opening Day at Boston's Fenway Park, the Red Sox attract only 8,324 fans to watch the team beat Chicago, 5-4. The eventual American League champs finished last season in ninth place with a 72-90 record.
Phil Roof, followed by Hank Aaron and Felipe Alou, becomes the first of only three major leaguers to play for the Milwaukee Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers, scoring three runs in the team's 16-2 rout of Chicago at White Sox Park. In 1960, the catcher made his major league debut with the Braves, appearing in three games before being traded to the Angels in 1964.
The first players' strike in baseball history ends when the owners agree to add salary arbitration to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and a $500,000 increase in pension fund payments. The owners will cancel the 86 games missed during the 13-day strike, refusing to compensate the players for their lost time during the work stoppage.
Rain postpones the game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium, marking only the second rainout in the 14-year history of the ballpark. The washout ends a streak that started in April 1967, covering a span of 724 straight contests, with subsequent postponements coming much sooner when inclement weather cancels two consecutive home dates in September.
On Opening Day, fans attending the Comiskey Park contest receive a foam ball with the idea of having the first pitch of the White Sox season thrown by everybody in the stands. The concept is the brainchild of Rudie Schaffer, team owner Bill Veeck's right-hand man, also credited with the Bat Day promotion and the innovative exploding scoreboard.
In a humiliating 9–8 extra-inning loss against the Phillies, the Mets blow a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, thanks, in part, to Keith Hernandez's error allowing the leadoff batter to reach base, opening the floodgates to Philadelphia's comeback. Six years later, the New York first baseman's Veterans Stadium miscue (albeit placed on the wrong date and season in a different venue) becomes the background of a conspiracy theory detailed in an hour-long Seinfeld episode, The Boyfriend.
Frank Robinson replaces Cal Ripken Sr. as the Orioles' manager after the team gets off to a 0-6 start. The new skipper, who has previously managed the Indians and Giants, will be winless in his first 15 games in the Baltimore dugout.
Bobby Witt ties an American League record, committing four balks in the Rangers' 4-1 loss in Detroit. The major league record for the most balks in one game is five, established in 1963 by Braves' right-hander Bob Shaw, which included three in the third inning of the team's 7-5 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Brett Butler walks five times in the Giants' 13-4 win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The speedy outfielder will score four times after being issued a free pass.
In a doubleheader at Cleveland, the Indians are no-hit by Red Sox hurler Matt Young in the first game but win, 2-1, and in the nightcap, the Tribe gets only two safeties off Roger Clemens to set a major league record for fewest hits (2) in a twin bill.
Barry Bonds, who signed a six-year, $43 million deal as a free agent, the richest contract in baseball history, delights the crowd of 56,689 at Candlestick Park by homering in his first at-bat in front of the hometown fans. The clean-up hitter's second-inning drive to deep right field off Chris Hammond proves to be the difference in the Giants' 4-3 extra-inning victory over Florida.
Scott Cooper hits for the cycle, the first Red Sox player since Mike Greenwell to accomplish the feat since 1988, driving in five runs to help the team rout the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, 22-11. The third baseman's fifth-inning triple is the result of being thrown out at the plate trying to stretch the three-bagger into an inside-the-park home run.
The Blue Jays postpone the game against the Royals when SkyDome's retractable dome gets jammed during a routine test opening, sending chunks of the roof, some as big as eight feet by six feet, crashing onto the field below. The gaping hole in the dome is visible from the outside of the ballpark, making the damage easy to spot by the city's commuters on a nearby expressway.
The combat-ready Padres, wearing camouflage jerseys and green caps, finally win the battle against the Giants after five consecutive losses to the black and orange, 8-3. San Diego donned the uniforms to honor the area's significant military population.
In front of 48,244 loud and enthusiastic fans at the Metrodome, their first sellout since winning the World Series in 1991, the Twins beat the Tigers in the home opener, 4-2. The MLB had considered eliminating the Minnesota franchise under its contraction plan proposed during the off-season.
Barry Bonds, with his 574th career round-tripper, passes former Twin first baseman Harmon Killebrew on the all-time home run list. The Giants' left fielder hit his milestone homer, which ranks him sixth overall, in the first inning off Nelson Figueroa in the Giants' 3-2 victory over Milwaukee.
Fenway's Green Monster, the left-field wall in the major league's smallest park, has a new look. In the place of a net that the team used to collect home run balls that cleared the wall, the fans now occupy the space, sitting 310 feet away and 40 feet above the field, as they watch Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez give up ten runs in 4.1 innings in a 13-6 loss to the Orioles.
With a 5-2 victory over the Indians at Cleveland's Jacobs Field, the Royals set a franchise record for victories at the start of the season, winning their ninth consecutive game since Opening Day. In 1977, Kansas City won 16 straight from August 31st through September 15th for the overall team's mark for consecutive wins.
At the Giants' home opener at SBC Park, the passing of the torch occurs both literally and figuratively when Barry Bonds hit his 660th career homer to tie his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the all-time home run list. The 72-year-old Hall of Famer Mays greets his godson at home plate with a torch studded with $18,000 of diamonds forming the numbers 660, 25 (Barry's number), and 1 (the number of round-trippers needed to move ahead).
In front of a sellout crowd of 41,626 fans, the Phillies play their first game in their $458 million Pattison Avenue ballpark. On a cloudy day, the Citizens Bank Park history begins with a 4-1 loss to the Reds, with right fielder Bobby Abreu hitting the park's first homer, accounting for Philadelphia's only run.
The Phillies unveiled a ten-foot bronze statue of Richie Ashburn at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies' new home. Zenos Frudakis's work of the five-time All-Star is located behind centerfield in Ashburn Alley, in the team's Walk of Fame.
Twenty-two-year-old college senior Jeffrey Maier hits a third-inning two-bagger against Bates to become the all-time career hits leader at Wesleyan, with 169, surpassing the 2003 mark set by Bill Robinson. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound third baseman gained national notoriety a decade ago as a 12-year-old fan when he leaned over the Yankee Stadium fence to snag Derek Jeter's fly ball 'homer,' which prevented Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco from catching the ball during the 1996 ALCS.
The Charleston RiverDogs, a Class-A minor league affiliate of the Yankees, commemorate the first visit of Benedict XVI to the United States with a Pope on a Rope Night promotion. The first 1,000 fans attending the South Atlantic League game against Rome at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park receive a soap figurine bearing a likeness of the Holy Father.
With runners taking off from first and second base, Pirates' shortstop Jack Wilson turns Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion's soft liner into a triple play. The triple killing is the Bucs' first since 1993 and the team's first on the road in 41 years.
A pair of tickets for the Mets home opener at Citi Field, with a face value of $525 apiece, is auctioned off for $7,500 on eBay. The ducats belonged to Bernard Madoff, who is in jail after pleading guilty last month to defrauding investors, including Mets owner Fred Wilpon, in a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
On an unusually warm spring day, the hometown Twins beat Boston, 5-2, in the first regular-season game at Target Field. Minnesota DH Jason Kubel hits the ballpark's first home run, a seventh-inning shot into the right-field seats.
With 9,129 fans in attendance, the smallest crowd in the 19-year history of the ballpark, the Orioles lose to Tampa Bay at Camden Yards, 5-1. The club, off to a 1-6 start in the new season, has scored only three runs in their last three games.
The Rakuten Eagles, unable to use their stadium due to the extensive damage caused by last month's massive earthquake and tsunami, beat the Chiba Lotte Marines at QVC Marine Field, 6-4, in Japan's Pacific League opener. The crowd of 22,525 attending the game is not disturbed after feeling an aftershock at the ballpark caused by an earthquake in Chiba earlier in the day.
Paulo Orlando becomes the first major leaguer to have each of his first three career hits be a triple when he bangs out his second three-bagger in the Royals' 9-2 victory over Los Angeles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Three days ago, the 29-year-old rookie outfielder also legged out a three-bag base hit off White Sox left-hander John Danks after being walked in his big-league debut at the plate.
Alyssa Nakken replaces Antoan Richardson after the Giants' first base coach was ejected during the team's eventual 13-2 victory over San Diego at Oracle Park, becoming the first woman on-field coach in MLB history. The assistant coach for manager Gabe Kapler, a member of San Francisco's front office since 2014, is greeted with a handshake from Padres' first baseman Eric Hosmer.
(Ed. Note: The baseball pioneer plans to donate the bright orange helmet she wore to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. - LP)