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Phillies' notable first Opening Days

Philadelphia Phillies

Four Phillies regulars will be playing in their first Opening Day in the Majors: Jorge Alfaro, J.P. Crawford, Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams. Each made their Major League debut late last season. For third-base coach Dusty Wathan, this will be his first Opening Day in the Majors after 24 consecutive seasons in the Minors. First-base coach Jose Flores is in his 18th year of pro ball, and this will be his first in the Majors.

So how did some Alumni fare on their first Opening Day?

Four Phillies regulars will be playing in their first Opening Day in the Majors: Jorge Alfaro, J.P. Crawford, Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams. Each made their Major League debut late last season. For third-base coach Dusty Wathan, this will be his first Opening Day in the Majors after 24 consecutive seasons in the Minors. First-base coach Jose Flores is in his 18th year of pro ball, and this will be his first in the Majors.

So how did some Alumni fare on their first Opening Day?

Larry Andersen
Andersen's first season opener came with the Mariners in 1981 despite pitching on and off in the Majors in 1975, '77 and '79 for Cleveland. He wasn't on the Opening Day roster in those seasons. So on April 9 in the Kingdome, Andersen came out of the bullpen in the ninth inning of a 6-2 loss to the California Angels. He struck out Bobby Grich, hit Butch Hobson, picked off pinch-runner Bert Campaneris at first base and got Rod Carew on a grounder to short.

Richie Ashburn
"Whitey" started in the first big league game he played in on April 20, 1948, when the Phillies hosted the Boston Braves at Shibe Park. A future Hall of Fame center fielder, Ashburn started in left field. Defending National League batting champion Harry "The Hat" Walker was in center. Ashburn's first hit was a single to center against Johnny Sain in his second at-bat, with one out in the third inning.

Larry Bowa
Leading off and playing shortstop, Bowa's first season opener was April 7, 1970. It was the last season opener in the history of Shibe Park. He grounded out three times before drawing an eighth-inning walk in a 2-0 loss to the Cubs. Bowa popped to the shortstop against Fergie Jenkins in his first at-bat.

Ryan Howard
Howard made his debut in September 2004, and he was in the Minors when the next season began. His first season opener in the Majors was in '06, and he went 1-for-5 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Howard's first hit was a sixth-inning home run off Chris Carpenter, who coasted to a 13-5 win.

John Kruk
Kruk's first Opening Day was April 7, 1986, his rookie season. He was a left fielder, but he didn't start the opener against the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela at Los Angeles. However, Kruk did get in the game: he was caught stealing in the ninth inning as a pinch-runner for Steve Garvey, as the Dodgers won, 2-1.

Greg Luzinski
"The Bull" made his Major League debut as a 19-year-old first baseman on Sept. 9, 1970. Luzinski spent most of the 1971 season in the Minors. His first Opening Day was on April 15, 1972, when he batted fifth and played left field at Wrigley Field. Luzinski's first hit of that season came in his second at-bat (fourth inning) -- a home run off future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. Phillies, 4; Cubs, 2.

Jimmy Rollins
Rollins made his debut in September 2000, so his first season opener was April 7, 2001, at Miami's Pro Player Stadium. Batting second and playing shortstop, he was 0-5 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt. The Phillies won, 6-5, in 13 innings.

Mike Schmidt
Schmidt was on the roster in 1973, but he remained in Clearwater, Fla., for treatment for a sore right shoulder. So his first opener was '74, and it was a memorable one. Batting eighth and playing third base against the Mets at Veterans Stadium on April 6, Schmidt was 0-for-3 until the bottom of the ninth. With a runner on second base, he hit a one-out, two-run walk-off home run off his future buddy, Tug McGraw. Phillies, 4; Mets, 3. Schmidt wound up playing a career-high 162 games that season.

Chase Utley
Utley was on the bench on March 31, 2003, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, and he did not play in an 8-5 win over the Marlins.

Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies.

Philadelphia Phillies