The 1923 season was special for the Yankees. It ended with the Yanks winning the first of what has become a record 27 World Series championships.And it began, on April 15, with the grand opening of the original Yankee Stadium. And it was grand, thanks in no small part to
The 1923 season was special for the Yankees. It ended with the Yanks winning the first of what has become a record 27 World Series championships.
And it began, on April 15, with the grand opening of the original Yankee Stadium. And it was grand, thanks in no small part to the grand man himself, Babe Ruth.
In the moments leading up to the opener, Ruth admitted, "I'd give a year of my life if I could hit a home run on opening day of this great new park."
In the third inning and in his second plate appearance of the game, Ruth unloaded a three-run shot into the right-field bleachers that proved to be the difference in a 4-1 season-opening victory against the Red Sox, the team that sold Ruth to the Yankees the day after Christmas in 1919.
It's one of those moments that has become ingrained in baseball culture, and it ranks among the Top 10 moments in Opening Day history.
Whether another one of those memories will unfold in the coming days when Major League Baseball opens the 2017 season with three games on Sunday and 12 more on Monday remains to be seen, but the grading scale is high.
Here are nine other unforgettable Opening Day moments:
April 14, 1910
President William Howard Taft became the first president to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day at the Washington Senators' game against the Philadelphia A's. Twelve presidents have continued that tradition. In 1950, Harry S. Truman became the first president to handle the honors by throwing a pitch both left-handed and right-handed. In 1984, Ronald Reagan became the first president to deliver the pitch from the mound.
April 16, 1940
Bob Feller, 21 years old and in his fifth big league season, pitched a 1-0 no-hitter against the White Sox at Comiskey Park for the first of what would be a career-best 27 wins by the Hall of Famer. He walked five and struck out eight. Rollie Hemsley's two-out triple in the fourth inning drove in Jeff Heath with the game's only run.
April 15, 1947
A crowd of 25,623 filled Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, many wearing "I'm for Jackie Robinson" buttons, to witness the Major League debut of Robinson. It was a moment bigger than a game, which the Dodgers won, 5-3, against the Boston Braves, with Robinson going 0-for-3 while drawing a walk and scoring a run. It is considered by many to be one of the most significant moments in the civil rights movement of the United States.
April 15, 1958
Major League Baseball debuted on the West Coast with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had moved during the offseason from Brooklyn. The Dodgers traveled to San Francisco to meet the Giants, who had moved the previous winter from New York. Ruben Gomez pitched a six-hitter and the host Giants beat the Dodgers, 8-0, at Seals Stadium.
April 12, 1965
Baseball moved indoors with the regular-season opener of the Astrodome. The Astros lost the game, 2-0, to the Phillies thanks to a two-run Dick Allen home run. The game was slightly overshadowed by an exhibition visit the previous weekend when the Yankees came to Houston, and 47,879 paid their way into what was known as the 8th Wonder of the World. President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the First Lady were among the spectators.
April 4, 1974
In his second at-bat of the season, Braves outfielder Hank Aaron unloaded the 714th home run of his career off Reds starter Jack Billingham at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, equaling Ruth's record. Four days later, in the Braves' home opener, Aaron connected off Al Downing of the Dodgers for the record-setting home run.
April 8, 1975
Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in the big leagues, leading the Cleveland Indians. He also hit himself second, as the DH, and after falling behind 0-2 in the count against Doc Medich, he fouled off a slider in on his hands, and then homered in a 5-3 victory against the Yankees. "I thought," Robinson said, "'This SOB is trying to strike me out on three pitches on my day. He's trying to embarrass me.'"
April 2, 1996
Seven pitches into the Reds' scheduled opener against the Montreal Expos, umpire John McSherry suffered a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead. Major League Baseball ordered the game postponed a day. "Snow in the morning and now this," said Reds owner Marge Schott. "I don't believe it. I feel cheated." A day later, the Reds opened with a 4-1 victory.
April 4, 1999
Major League Baseball made its debut in a foreign country other than Canada when the Rockies and Padres played in Monterrey, Mexico. The Rockies won the game, 8-2, with Dante Bichette driving in four runs.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.