Best Opening Day moment for every team

March 31st, 2021

Opening Day is finally here again, and what a welcome sight it will be to see Major League Baseball being played in April.

All 30 teams kick off the 2021 season on April 1 with the first of their 162 games -- a nice return to normalcy after last year's July Opening Day and 60-game season. But no matter the year, and no matter the circumstances, Opening Day always brings thrilling games, superstar performances, emotional moments, iconic debuts, dramatic endings and plenty of unpredictability.

Here's the best Opening Day moment for every MLB team.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Angels: April 1, 2013
Iannetta shines in MLB's first Interleague opener

Chris Iannetta drove in all three runs for the Angels, hitting a solo home run and delivering a bases-loaded single in the 13th inning to topple the Reds in the first Interleague opener in MLB history. Jered Weaver started for the Halos and became the first AL pitcher to bat on Opening Day since 1972. At four hours and 45 minutes, the Angels' 3-1 win marked the longest season opener in franchise history. Angels Top 5 >

Astros: March 29, 2018
Springer Dinger, Part 2

Astros fans got a little Opening Day deja vu from their World Series MVP in 2018. Fresh off his amazing Fall Classic performance, George Springer kicked off the reigning champs' 2018 campaign with a leadoff home run on Opening Day against the Rangers. It was the second straight season he'd done it -- yes, Springer also kicked off Houston's title run in 2017 with an Opening Day leadoff homer. That made him the first player in MLB history to hit leadoff home runs on Opening Day in consecutive seasons. Astros Top 5 >

Athletics: July 24, 2020
Olson walks it off with a slam

Matt Olson unloaded on a first-pitch slider from Angels reliever Hoby Milner and crushed a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning at the Coliseum to send the A's home with a win on Opening Day 2020. Olson’s feat marked the first time a player hit a walk-off grand slam on Opening Day since Jim Presley of the Mariners in 1986. A's Top 5 >

Blue Jays: April 7, 1977
Ault crushes first home run in Jays history

The first game in Blue Jays history provided one of the franchise's most iconic moments. A snowstorm threw the status of the game into question, but the Jays and White Sox did manage to take the field. In the bottom of the first inning, Doug Ault hit a home run off of White Sox starter Ken Brett for the first homer in Toronto franchise history. Ault added another home run in the third as the Blue Jays had their first win, 6-5, and their first star. Honorable mention goes to George Bell, who became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs on Opening Day in 1988. Blue Jays Top 5 >

Indians: April 16, 1940
Feller's no-hitter

It’s a feat that has never been done by anyone other than Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Feller toed the rubber at Comiskey Park in front of 14,000 fans and navigated around five walks and one error to toss the first and only Opening Day no-hitter in Major League history. Feller racked up eight strikeouts in nine innings, as the Tribe squeaked out a 1-0 victory, thanks to an RBI triple by Rollie Hemsley off White Sox starter Eddie Smith in the fourth. Indians Top 5 >

Orioles: April 12, 1966
Baltimore's first World Series run begins

The 1966 Orioles may not have been the single best team in franchise history, but they are probably the most important. Their story truly started with the acquisition of Frank Robinson the winter before and ended with the franchise’s first World Series championship. The regular season itself opened dramatically: Locked in a 4-4 tie with the Red Sox, the O’s rallied in the 13th before Boston reliever Jim Lonborg balked home the winning run. The O’s won, 5-4. Orioles Top 5 >

Mariners: April 6, 2009
The Kid is back

In his first game back with the Mariners after nine seasons with the Reds, Ken Griffey Jr. picked up where he'd left off by hitting his eighth Opening Day home run -- a fifth-inning solo shot off Francisco Liriano -- to tie Frank Robinson for the most Opening Day homers in MLB history. The effort helped make a winner of Félix Hernández, who gave up one run over eight innings in what was the first of 10 straight Opening Day starts for the King. Mariners Top 5 >

Rangers: April 21, 1972
Rangers arrive in Texas

The Rangers' first home game after moving to Texas had to wait a little longer than expected due to the 1972 players strike, but the team finally opened at home on April 21 at Arlington Stadium. There, 20,105 fans watched the Rangers hold on for a 7-6 victory over the Angels. Frank Howard, who was the marquee player when the team was the Washington Senators, celebrated the arrival of baseball in Texas with a first-inning home run. Rangers Top 5 >

Rays: April 6, 2012
Peña downs the Yankees

Carlos Peña established himself as the franchise’s premier first baseman from 2007-10. After spending 2011 with the Cubs, Peña was welcomed back like a hero on Opening Day 2012. And he returned to the Rays in style. In the bottom of the first, he got the Tropicana Field crowd of 34,078 rocking with a two-out grand slam off CC Sabathia, and in the ninth, he drove a walk-off single to the wall off Mariano Rivera to cap a wild homecoming victory. Rays Top 5 >

Red Sox: April 7, 1986
Evans homers on first pitch to open thrilling season

Yes, the best Opening Day moment in Red Sox history came in an eventual 6-5 loss to the Tigers. As Dwight Evans stepped to the plate, he was not only the first batter for Boston in 1986, but he was the first in MLB for the entire season. Evans jumped on the first pitch from eventual Hall of Famer Jack Morris and smashed it over the fence in left-center at Tiger Stadium. Red Sox play-by-play man Ned Martin's voice was shaking as Evans ran around the bases. It was an omen of what would be a thrilling season for Boston, which won the AL pennant for the first time since 1975. Red Sox Top 5 >

Royals: April 4, 2004
Kansas City carves six-run ninth inning in walk-off win

The Royals were trailing the White Sox by four going into the bottom of the ninth on Opening Day 2004. But two walks and an RBI double by Benito Santiago brought Kansas City within one run. Then light-hitting Mendy Lopez launched a three-run home run, which he later said was the longest ball he had ever hit in his life. A single by Angel Berroa and a walk-off two-run homer by Carlos Beltrán gave the Royals a very improbable 9-7 win. Royals >

Tigers: April 4, 2005
Young homers thrice, makes history

The anticipation was for Magglio Ordonez in his Tigers debut at Comerica Park, but Dmitri Young stole the show with three home runs, joining George Bell and Tuffy Rhodes as the only Major Leaguers to hit three homers on Opening Day (Matt Davidson has since joined that group). Young earned a curtain call from a raucous crowd in Detroit, where the first-pitch temperature was a balmy 68 degrees in the 11-2 win. Tigers Top 5 >

Twins: April 11, 1961
Ramos blanks Yanks in first game in Twins history

Relocation brought Major League Baseball to Minnesota in 1961, but the newly formed Twins began that chapter on the road at the old Yankee Stadium against Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Whitey Ford. On Opening Day, Harmon Killebrew knocked the first hit in Twins history with a single in the fourth, and Bob Allison finally broke a scoreless tie in the seventh with a solo blast down the left-field line. All the while, Minnesota starter Pedro Ramos dominated the Bronx Bombers' lineup to secure the first win in club history. Twins Top 5 >

White Sox: April 5, 2010
Buehrle's no-look flip goes down in history

Mark Buehrle threw seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory, but it was his defensive effort on a Lou Marson grounder off of his left leg in the fifth inning that will stand out forever. The left-handed Buehrle recovered the grounder on the run as it ricocheted toward the first-base line, and he no-look flipped the ball with his glove between his legs. Paul Konerko made the barehanded catch at first base to complete one of the top defensive plays in franchise history. White Sox Top 5 >

Yankees: April 18, 1923
The House that Ruth Built

In the first game at Yankee Stadium, the paint was likely still drying in the grand cathedral at the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue when Babe Ruth stepped to the plate in the fourth inning and stared down Red Sox right-hander Howard Ehmke. With a mammoth cut, the Great Bambino christened his new home, pouncing on a 2-2 curveball to launch a three-run homer into the right-field seats. A crowd of 74,200 was said to have witnessed the game.

A close second: a rookie Derek Jeter stealing the show with his first career home run on Opening Day 1996. Yankees Top 5 >

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Braves: April 5, 2010
Heyward homers on first big league swing

A standing-room-only crowd packed Turner Field to celebrate the Major League debut of Jason Heyward, a suburban Atlanta native who stood as baseball's top prospect. Heyward sent the hometown faithful into a frenzy when he homered on the first swing of his career. The three-run shot off Carlos Zambrano created what is considered to be one of the loudest roars heard during the history of the Braves' former stadium. Braves Top 5 >

Brewers: April 10, 1980
Sixto's walk-off slam

Sixto Lezcano capped one of the most memorable openers in franchise history with his second Opening Day grand slam in three years. He first hit one in an opening win over the Orioles in 1978, and when he did it again with two outs in the ninth inning off Boston’s Dick Drago -- the same pitcher who’d served up Hank Aaron’s 755th and final home run four years earlier -- Lezcano was the first man in baseball history to hit slams on multiple Opening Days. A crowd of 53,313 went wild as Lezcano raised his arms over his head around first base.

Honorable mention: Lorenzo Cain's "walk-off" home run robbery against the Cardinals on Opening Day 2019. Brewers Top 5 >

Cardinals: March 31, 1998
McGwire sparks historic season with grand slam

Mark McGwire's pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home run record began in grand style on Opening Day 1998, when his fifth-inning grand slam off Ramon Martinez sent the Cardinals to a 6-0 win. It was the swing that started a summer of slugging in St. Louis, and it set up McGwire's race to Maris' record against Chicago's Sammy Sosa. McGwire won the race, finishing the season with 70 home runs to set a new all-time single-season mark. Cardinals Top 5 >

Cubs: April 4, 1994
Tuffy's hat trick

On Opening Day 1994, Tuffy Rhodes was slotted into the Cubs' leadoff spot against Mets ace Dwight Gooden, and he drilled three home runs off Gooden that day. After the third blast, the Wrigley Field faithful began tossing hats out of the stands and bleachers, forcing a 10-minute delay to clear the playing field. Only four players have smacked three homers on Opening Day in MLB history, and Rhodes is one. Cubs Top 5 >

D-backs: April 1, 2002
Big Unit throws trophy day shutout

Before the game, the D-backs unveiled their 2001 World Series banner, and manager Bob Brenly carried the World Series trophy out to home plate when he was announced along with the starting lineup. Randy Johnson made sure Arizona came away with the 2-0 win, tossing a six-hit shutout while striking out eight and throwing 130 pitches. D-backs Top 5 >

Dodgers: April 15, 1947
Robinson breaks the color barrier

The Dodgers have no shortage of Opening Day highlights in Los Angeles -- from the debuts of the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium, to Fernando Valenzuela's emergency-start shutout in 1981 that launched Fernandomania. But nothing had a greater impact on baseball and American society than Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier when he started at first base for Brooklyn on April 15, 1947. Dodgers Top 5 >

Giants: April 10, 1962
Mays sets tone with first-inning homer

Willie Mays' homer on the first pitch he saw from fellow Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in the first inning set the tone for the rest of the afternoon and the rest of the season. Juan Marichal pitched a three-hit 6-0 shutout against the Braves on Opening Day, and the Giants went on to win the NL pennant by defeating the Dodgers in a best-of-three tiebreaker, their first since moving to San Francisco. Giants Top 5 >

Marlins: April 5, 1993
Baseball in the sunshine

To longtime Marlins fans, the inaugural game remains the most memorable Opening Day in franchise history. It started when Charlie Hough, then 45, fluttered his first-pitch knuckleball and got a generous strike call on Jose Offerman. It was that kind of magical day in South Florida, as Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine went 4-for-4 and the Marlins beat the Dodgers in front of 42,334 fans at Joe Robbie Stadium. Marlins Top 5 >

Mets: April 9, 1985
Carter's debut a memorable one in Flushing

With Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden already in place to form the most potent core in franchise history, the Mets appeared ready to take their place as one of baseball’s best teams when they acquired Expos catcher Gary Carter in a trade at the 1984 Winter Meetings. Four months later, Carter hit a 10th-inning walk-off homer in his debut to lead the Mets to the first of 98 victories in a 6-5 win over the Cardinals. Mets Top 5 >

Nationals: March 30, 2008
Zim caps win with walk-off homer

The Nationals opened brand-new Nationals Park on center stage in front of a national television audience, and Ryan Zimmerman capped off Opening Day with a walk-off home run in the ninth inning off Braves right-hander Peter Moylan. President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Nats manager Manny Acta. Nationals Top 5 >

Padres: April 8, 2004
Petco Park opens in style

The Padres unveiled their shiny new ballpark in the East Village with an instant classic. Petco Park's first Opening Day saw the Giants come to town, and the game lived up to its billing. San Francisco scored two runs in the ninth off Trevor Hoffman to take the lead, but San Diego tied the game on Sean Burroughs' RBI single in the bottom of the frame. The Giants took the lead again in the 10th before the Friars mounted another rally. Miguel Ojeda's two-out double tied things up, and Burroughs walked off with a single to give San Diego its first Petco Park victory. Padres Top 5 >

Phillies: April 5, 2010
Halladay spins gem in Phils debut

In one of the most highly anticipated Opening Days in franchise history, newly acquired ace Roy Halladay allowed just one run in seven innings at Nationals Park. Doc struck out nine in the 11-1 win. Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco each homered, Jimmy Rollins tripled, and the Phillies were on their way to their fourth of five consecutive NL East championships. Phillies Top 5 >

Pirates: April 6, 1973
A tribute and a triumph

How does a team begin a season after the death of one of its greatest icons? After Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash during an international aid trip, the Pirates were faced with this harsh reality. During the pregame ceremonies on Opening Day at Three Rivers Stadium in 1973, the club honored and retired the famous No. 21 in front of a crowd of 51,695. In the game itself, the Pirates rallied late against Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and won, 7-5. Pirates Top 5 >

Reds: April 4, 1974
Rose races home from second on wild pitch

Pete Rose went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a walk and three runs while reaching base four times in the Reds' 7-6 win on Opening Day 1974. Rose hit an RBI double to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth to force extras, then added a two-out double in the 11th and scored the winning run by coming home -- from second base -- on a wild pitch. It was another play for the ages by the future all-time hits leader. Reds Top 5 >

Rockies: April 26, 1995
Rox win wild one in Coors inauguration

The first Opening Day at Coors Field set the tone for what now is decades of wild baseball. On April 26, 1995, the Rockies' opener against the Mets lasted 14 innings. The Mets took a 9-8 lead in the top of the 14th, but Dante Bichette parked a no-doubt two-run homer off Mike Remlinger to give the Rockies an 11-9 win. Bichette's fist pump toward his teammates in the dugout -- before the ball had even cleared the wall -- is considered the first iconic moment at Coors. Rockies Top 5 >