In the coming days, stadiums from east to west will be jam packed, as fans celebrating opening day will be in full-force for the 2013 MLB Season. Tailgating traditions, family outings; a reason to celebrate: as every team at this point, has a chance to be great and entrench themselves into a legacy that goes far and beyond. Why is opening day so special? Plain and simple a fresh start: the beginning of a long intense 162-game journey that carries through the long endless days of summer, gets more intense and competitive as the cold nights begin to loom and hits full stride during the month of October. Every ball player starts out on an equal platform as multi-million dollar stars, rising youngsters and players fresh off injury/poor performances get ready to prove them selves once again, post numbers and hit their own personal “zone” in order to contribute for the good of the team. Through endless travel, critique, fierce pitching, a multitude of environments and the mental anguish of hot and cold streaks once again, it is going to be fun to watch the drama unfold and the unexpected happen. Baseball has stood the testament of time, and has become ingrained into the fabric of the cities and fans that make this country great. Whether you’re a baseball person or not; appreciation has to be given to a game, that symbolizes such an array of history; and for so many old and young, means so much personally and for the city they call home. Baseball is special, and in a society which sometimes needs to take a step back and approach things from a more calming perspective, with all the chaos in the news and other forms of media; baseball the slow game that it is at times, will be an outlet, a joyous part of the day where we can sit back and relax and enjoy a beer. Through it all, baseball once again will bring excitement, and suspense for those who choose to take the seemingly endless journey. For this reason: get ready. Baseball is Back.
Some Facts via Baseball Almanac:
Ted Williams was a .449 hitter in openers, with three home runs and fourteen runs batted in during fourteen games. “Teddy Ballgame” also boasted at least one hit in every Opening Day game he appeared in. Williams’ first Opening Day (April 20, 1939) was especially noteworthy as he faced the rival New York Yankees and Lou Gehrig, who was playing in his 2,123rd consecutive game.
Opening Day 1940 witnessed one of the most famous pitching events as Cleveland ace Bob Feller and White Sox hurler Eddie Smith went head-to-head. Smith blinked, but Feller remained in control and tossed the only Opening Day no-hitter in Major League history.
Hammerin’ Hank Aaron ignited the crowd at Riverfront Stadium on his first swing of the 1974 season when he tagged Cincinnati Reds for his 714th career home run to tie Babe Ruth on the all-time list.
Facts via History.com
Snowball Fight – On Opening Day in 1907, the New York Giants faced off against the Phillies at New York City’s Polo Grounds after a heavy snowstorm. When the Giants fell behind, disgruntled fans began flinging snowballs onto the field, forcing the umpire to call a forfeit in the Phillies’ favor.
Presidential Pitches – On the first day of the 1910 season, William Howard Taft became the first president to throw the ceremonial first pitch. Since then, every president besides Jimmy Carter has thrown at least one ceremonial first ball for Opening Day, the All-Star Game or the World Series.
Rival Rio – t Brooklyn’s Washington Park was the scene of an Opening Day riot on April 11, 1912. With the Brooklyn Dodgers down 18-3 to their rival, the New York Giants, fans stormed the field and delayed the game, which was eventually called on account of darkness in the sixth inning.
Lucky Feller – There has only been one no-hitter in Opening Day history. Cleveland pitcher Bob Feller, then just 21 years old, threw it against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park on April 16, 1940.
Red-Handed – Boston Braves fans sat down to an unpleasant surprise on Opening Day in 1946. The outfield stands had recently received a fresh coat of red paint, but cold, damp weather had prevented it from drying. Hundreds of angry, paint-stained spectators marched to the Braves’ offices. The team agreed to pay their cleaning bills and made a public apology in a newspaper ad.
Making History – Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier on Opening Day in 1947, becoming the first African American to play for a Major League team. The 28-year-old made his debut at Ebbets Field, playing first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Switch Pitcher – Harry Truman was the only president to throw out left-handed and right-handed first pitches on Opening Day. He showcased his ambidextrous talents on April 18, 1950.
Out of the Park – Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 714th home run on Opening Day in 1974, tying Babe Ruth for most career homers. He beat Ruth’s record later that week and reached 755 by the end of this career. Aaron’s record was not eclipsed until Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run in 2007.
Opening Streak – On Opening Day in 1974, several naked fans rushed onto the field at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, disrupting the game and inciting violence in the stands.
Famous Firsts – Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey Jr. share the record for most career home runs on the first day of the season, with eight Opening Day homers each.
Star Starter – Hall of Famer Tom Seaver has started the most Opening Day games in history—11 for the Mets, three for the Reds and two for the White Sox.