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Opening Day introductions at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2007
2009 Opening Day of Dodger Stadium

Opening Day is the beginning of a new Major League Baseball season. It falls around the beginning of April, signaling such a generational feeling of rebirth for some that the writer Thomas Boswell once penned a book titled, Why Time Begins On Opening Day.[1] Many feel that the occasion represents a newness or a chance to forget last season, in that the 30 major league clubs and their millions of fans begin with 0-0 records.

For generations, Opening Day has arrived amid pageantry. In Cincinnati, Ohio, home of the sport's first professional team, an annual parade marks an unofficial "city holiday" with young and old alike taking the day off to cheer on the Reds. For decades, the first pitch of every major league season officially took place in Cincinnati. The past decade has brought the introduction of a Sunday night opening game televised by ESPN, as well as the staging of season-opening series in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan (with the current World Series champion as the "home" team against an opponent in the same league). The ensuing Monday brings Opening Day to numerous major league ballparks and the game that day in Cincinnati (the only team that always opens the season at home) is still observed throughout baseball as the "traditional opener." All games on opening day as well as the home openers are played in the daytime. Opening Day is a state of mind as well, with countless baseball fans known to recognize this unofficial holiday as a good reason to call in sick at work or "play hooky" from school and go out to the ballpark for the first of 162 regular season games. Each team's home opener serve as the only regular season games during the year in which the entire rosters of both teams as well as coaches and clubhouse staff are introduced to the crowd (for the rest of the year, ballparks only introduce the starting lineups).

Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, who played for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, once said: "An opener is not like any other game. There's that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can't lose 'em all."[1]

Opening Day extends throughout the sport of baseball, to hundreds of minor league baseball franchises as well as to college, high school, youth league fields and in areas far beyond North America. Similarly, there are opening-night performances for new Broadway plays.

Prior to Opening Day, the teams' managers have to decide the starting pitchers for the Opening Day game. This spot is usually given to the teams' ace pitchers, and is usually considered an honor for a pitcher to start on Opening Day. In turn, the pitchers who start on Opening Day are usually recognized throughout the baseball world as their teams' best starting pitchers.



President Woodrow Wilson throws out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day. Photo 1916

In 1940 a no-hitter was thrown by Cleveland pitcher Bob Feller. It remains the only no-hitter in Opening Day history.

Twelve United States presidents have thrown the first ball of the season. On April 14, 1910, baseball enthusiast William Howard Taft attended the home opener in Washington D.C., becoming the first U.S. President to throw out the first pitch to start a season. Harry S. Truman threw first pitches with both his right and left arm in 1950.[1] On April 4, 1994, Bill Clinton inaugurated the Cleveland Indians' new ballpark, Jacobs Field, with the first pitch.

The great Ted Williams was a .449 hitter in openers, with three home runs and fourteen runs batted in during fourteen such games and at least one hit in each game.

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves ignited the Opening Day crowd in Cincinnati with his first swing. It resulted in his 714th career home run, tying Babe Ruth on Major League Baseball's all-time list. Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs.

In 14 season openers for the Washington Senators Walter Johnson pitched a record nine shutouts. His two most famous[citation needed] starts include a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia A's in 1910 and a 1-0 marathon victory while battling the A's Eddie Rommel for 15 innings.

On April 4, 2005, Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers hit three home runs in his team's opener against the Kansas City Royals at Detroit's Comerica Park. He became the third major leaguer with three home runs on Opening Day, following the Toronto Blue Jays' George Bell in 1988 and the Chicago Cubs' Tuffy Rhodes in 1994.

The St. Louis Cardinals were the first major league team to open the season with a night game, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on April 18, 1950.

The longest Opening Day game in major league history was a 15-inning game played at Cleveland Stadium on April 19, 1960. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Cleveland Indians 4-2.

On rare occasions, a team has opened its home season with a doubleheader. The first of these came when the Boston Americans hosted the Philadelphia Phillies for two games on April 20, 1903, with Boston winning the first game 9-4 and Philadelphia taking the second game 10-7. The most recent Opening Day doubleheader was played on April 7, 1971, with the Chicago White Sox defeating the host Oakland Athletics in both games (6-5 and 12-4, respectively).

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver has started the most Opening Day games in Major League history, starting the Opener 16 times for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox.


There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness and the National Football League.


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