Guardians' top 5 Opening Day moments

November 23rd, 2021

CLEVELAND -- Opening Day can be treated like it's a holiday by many baseball fans around the world, and there is nothing more exciting than when your favorite team gives you a reason to celebrate as soon as the season begins.

Cleveland has made a handful of special memories during home openers, including walk-offs by Jim Thome and Michael Brantley, but what are some of the club's top moments on the very first game of the season?

Let’s take a look:

1. Feller’s no-no
April, 16, 1940

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.

2. Kirby’s walk-off single christens new ballpark
April 4, 1994

The late Feller nearly saw Randy Johnson match his feat in what turned into an incredible opener for Cleveland in ‘94. In the inaugural game at Progressive Field (then Jacobs Field), where President Bill Clinton threw out the first pitch, Johnson carried a no-hitter into the eighth for Seattle. Feller celebrated in the press box when Sandy Alomar Jr.'s single ended The Big Unit's bid for history, and then watched Wayne Kirby send the team to a walk-off 4-3 win with an 11th-inning single.

3. Franchise record for most homers on Opening Day
April 27, 1995

It had been 40 seasons since the Guardians made the playoffs, and the ’95 squad set the tone in what would become a magical year. In an 11-6 victory over the Rangers in Arlington, the club launched five homers and recorded 13 hits. Paul Sorrento started the fireworks with a two-run homer in the second before Albert Belle and Eddie Murray went back-to-back in the third. Manny Ramirez joined in the fun in the fifth with a solo shot to left field, and Carlos Baerga capped off the day with a homer in the ninth.

4. Bieber sets Opening Day strikeout record
July 24, 2020

Cleveland had just traded Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber over the past year. Carlos Carrasco was returning to his starting role after battling leukemia, and Mike Clevinger was bouncing back from ACL surgery. It was up to Shane Bieber to prove that he was ready to be the ace of the rotation, and he did that and more. Bieber set the franchise Opening Day strikeout record (and the second most in MLB history) by fanning 14 batters; he allowed just four hits in six innings against the Royals in the 2-0 victory.

5. The most innings in an Opening Day game in MLB history
April 5, 2012

Maybe Cleveland didn’t walk away victorious on this Opening Day, but the club certainly left a lasting memory. After putting up four runs in the second inning with the help of a three-run blast by Jack Hannahan, the Tribe held a three-run lead over the Blue Jays until the ninth, when Toronto scored three off Chris Perez to knot the score at 4.

The game ended up lasting five hours and 14 minutes, which set an Opening Day record at the time. In 2018, the Tigers and Pirates took that title with a five-hour, 27-minute performance. However, 2012’s 16-inning marathon still stands as the most innings played in an Opening Day game in MLB history. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it was the Blue Jays who scored last, as J.P. Arencibia launched a three-run homer off Jairo Asencio to secure the victory.

Honorable mention

April 14, 1953: Bob Lemon tossed a one-hitter in a 6-0 win against the White Sox with four walks and three strikeouts.