Monday, April 06, 2015

Opening Day Stories

Baseball's Opening Day, when the season of renewal meets the sport of never ending Spring.

The Greatests
Ted Williams (l) was always ready to go from day one. He never failed to get at least one hit and batted .449 in his fourteen opening day games. Bob Feller (r) probably had the best single opening day in history. On April 16, 1940, Feller pitched the first of his three no-hitters. On opening day in 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run, tying Babe Ruth for the most in history.

Not So Greats
The New York Mets lost their opening day contests in each of their first eight years. They didn't record a win in a season's first game until 1970. They won the World Series before they won an opening day. 

My home team, the San Diego Padres, is the second worst team in baseball history (.462 win/loss percentage, slightly better than Tampa Bay) yet they won their first ever game. They beat the Houston Astros in 1969 using a lead-off batter, Rafael Robles, who hit .100 for the season. Their catcher (Chris Cannizzaro) and pitcher (Dick Selma) were both New York Met outcasts.

Absolute Worst
Ron Karkovice inherited the Chicago White Sox catching job when Carlton Fisk got too old to do a full season of squats. Ron wasn't much of a hitter (.221 career batting average) but on March 31, 1996 he hit bottom. Facing Randy Johnson in an opening day game, Ron struck out five times in five at bats. There is no record if he cried.

Play Ball!

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