5 unforgettable Opening Days for Red Sox

March 31st, 2021

For the rabid fans that inhabit Red Sox Nation, Opening Day is considered a holiday.

In their history, the Red Sox have had some wild openers. Here is a ranking of the five most memorable Opening Day moments in the rich history of the club.

Dewey makes history: April 7, 1986
Playing at Tiger Stadium in Opening Day of 1986, Dwight Evans was the first batter in MLB to step in the batter's box that season. The Red Sox and Tigers had the honor of getting the earliest start time on Opening Day that year. Eventual Hall of Famer Jack Morris threw the first pitch, and Evans knocked it out of the park for a home run. Veteran Red Sox broadcaster Ned Martin’s voice shook with a combination of excitement and shock as the ball cleared the fence, and it’s understandable. No player in MLB history had ever hit the first pitch of an MLB season over the wall. On March 29, 2018, the Cubs’ Ian Happ joined Evans as the only players in that exclusive club.

Kirk Gibson actually stole the show that day for the Tigers, belting two homers while leading his team to a 6-5 victory. But the most memorable moment of the day belonged to Evans. And it was a sign of the excitement that would come, as the Red Sox won the American League pennant in 1986 – their first since ’75.

Konnichiwa from Tokyo! March 25, 2008
A Red Sox fan typically wakes up restless on Opening Day, ready for the game to start. They didn’t have that problem in 2008. With the Red Sox opening their season in Tokyo for the first time, the game against the Oakland Athletics started at 6 a.m. for those watching back in Boston. It wound up being a thriller. Brandon Moss, who was in the lineup only because J.D. Drew was scratched with an injury just minutes before the first pitch, belted a game-tying, solo shot with one out in the ninth.

Manny Ramirez had the deciding hit, a go-ahead, two-run double in the ninth. As the player of the game, Ramirez earned a $10,000 check from a sponsor. "I think I'll use it for gas money,” quipped the entertaining slugger.

Pedro dazzles in debut: April 1, 1998
Could this Pedro Martinez guy possibly be as great as the hype suggested? It took him one start to answer in the affirmative. On the heels of a blockbuster trade from the Expos and a subsequent, six-year, $75 million contract extension with Boston, Martinez dominated in Oakland in his first star for the Sox. In a tense, 2-0 victory, Martinez allowed but three hits over seven innings and struck out 11. Let the record show that the first batter Martinez faced was the legendary Rickey Henderson, and he got him on a flyout to deep left. This was the first of the 117 victories Martinez would compile for the Red Sox.

Hammerin’ Hank, Tony C and Looie: April 8, 1975
There was a whole lot going on at Fenway to kick off the 1975 season. The legendary Hank Aaron played in Boston for the first time, and batted third as the DH for the Brewers. Hometown hero Tony Conigliaro, who hadn’t played in the Majors in four seasons due to recurring eye issues, was back with the Red Sox. After getting a sustained standing ovation, Conigliaro, who batted cleanup that day, smashed a single in the bottom of the first. He then stole second. It was a perfect start to a nearly perfect season in Boston and fan favorite Luis Tiant went the distance for the win with chants of “Looie, Looie, Looie” serving as the audio backdrop.

Wild comeback in Anaheim: April 2, 1997
Even though Roger Clemens had left for free agency, there was a buzz heading into the 1997 season due to the arrival of an electrifying rookie shortstop named Nomar Garciaparra. It was also the first game for new Boston manager Jimy Williams. However, it seemed as if it would be a forgettable night for the visitors. The Red Sox trailed, 5-2, entering the top of the ninth.

That made it all the more thrilling when they surged back with four in that final frame for a 6-5 victory. Unfathomably, the rally started with two outs and nobody on base. Closer Troy Percival simply imploded, walking Tim Naehring and Wil Cordero to force in runs and then hitting Rudy Pemberton with a pitch to tie the game. It was Troy O’Leary who got the winning run home with an infield, RBI single.