Opening Day, the Baseball Holiday
Though capital letters weren’t always used to describe Opening Day, Paul Dickson, in his eponymous work, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, says that the term is usually capitalized, as is its counterpart, Opening Night. Many baseball fans fall in line with Smith’s thinking, as it represents an unofficial holiday and an excuse to skip school or call in sick to the office. MLB.com’s style guide concurs with Dickson, and the SABR style guide suggests that the letters only be capitalized when referring to a specific season’s Opening Day. Otherwise, generic opening days, such as those of a series, remain lower case.
However, Opening Day is hardly a generic day or concept. Major League Baseball has produced logos specifically for Opening Day since at least as early as 2002. Topps has created “Opening Day” baseball card sets over the past 16 seasons. As the Reds’ Frank Bancroft discovered at the turn of the previous century, if there is money to be made on Opening Day, individuals will find a way to make it happen.
Yet those who profit on Opening Day are baseball fans throughout the world, for it is an opportunity to begin the season with a sense of renewed hope and optimism. Every team starts the day with a clean slate and an equal chance to win the World Series.
Officially or not, it is every baseball fan’s holiday.
Matt Rothenberg is the manager of the Giamatti Research Center at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
(Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball-Almanac.com and Opening Day: All Major League Baseball Season Opening Games, by Team, 1876-1998, by Don Kerr)
• Most Opening Day Starts (Pitchers): Tom Seaver – 16
• Most Opening Day Grand Slams, Career: Sixto Lezcano – 2 (1978 & 1980)
• Most Opening Day Home Runs, Career: Frank Robinson – 8
• Most Opening Day Shutouts, Career: Walter Johnson – 7
• Fewest Hits Allowed on Opening Day: Bob Feller – 0
• Best Record (Pitcher), Career (minimum two decisions): Jimmy Key – 7-0
• Worst Record (Pitcher), Career (minimum two decisions): Phil Niekro – 0-7
• Hit For The Cycle: Gee Walker, Detroit (1937)
• Most Runs in One Game, Team: 21 – Cleveland (1925)
• Most Strikeouts in One Game (Pitcher): 15 – Camilo Pascual, Washington (1960)
• Most Home Runs in One Game: 3 – George Bell, Toronto (1988), Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes, Chicago Cubs (1994), and Dmitri Young, Detroit (2005)
• Longest Game, Innings: 16 - Toronto at Cleveland (2012)
• Highest Percentage of Opening Day Games Won, Through 2014 Season: 74.2% – Toronto (Highest in National League: 60% - New York Mets)
• Most Opening Day Wins: 78 – New York/San Francisco Giants (National League 1883-date)
• Most Opening Day Losses: 69 - Cincinnati (American Association 1882-1889, National League 1890-date)
• 1975: Cleveland’s Frank Robinson becomes first African American manager in MLB history.
• 1974: Atlanta’s Hank Aaron hits home run #714 in Cincinnati.
• 1947: Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson make his major league debut.
• 1907: New York Giants forfeit opening day to Philadelphia after umpire Bill Klem is hit by a snowball. Due to a snowstorm, large piles of snow were in foul territory. After the Giants fell behind, fans began to throw snowballs onto the field and began to rush the field.