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A Brief History of Opening Day


As flowers begin to bloom, crickets start to chirp, and the days grow longer, it must mean one thing… Baseball season is finally upon us. While many colleges, high schools, and youth leagues have already begun, the best in the world have packed up their spring training lockers and are getting ready to embark on a 162-game season—30 cities buzz as they prepare to host 81 games for the first time in two years. After a Covid-shortened schedule last year, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the proper return of Major League Baseball. And the most authentic way to do that is a full slate of 15 games on Opening Day. We hope you enjoy the most incredible day of the year.

Opening Day History

If you are looking for Opening Day history, look no further than the town known for serving chili on spaghetti. Cincinnati, the first all-professional team, has always hosted a home game on Opening Day. It’s a city-wide holiday as residents take a day off of work & school to attend the Findlay Market Parade and (those who are lucky enough) the Reds’ first game of the season. This tradition of Opening Day in Cincinnati dates back to the Reds’ first game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1882.

For decades, the Reds were honored with the “first pitch of the major league season” and have hosted a game all but two seasons since 1882 (1966 - Rainout / 1990 - Lockout.) While the Reds are still granted a home series each year to kick off the season, ESPN has recently begun to showcase an Opening Game the night before. The MLB still honors Opening Day as the first day on the calendar with multiple slated games.

Opening Day Facts

  • Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s all-time HR record on Opening Day (April 4, 1974)
  • Jackie Robinson played 1st base in his major league debut (April 15, 1947) at Wrigley Field. 
  • Bob Feller threw the only no-hitter in Opening Day history as the Indians defeated the White Sox 1-0 (April 16, 1940)
  • William H. Taft threw out the first Presidential first pitch from his box seats, not the pitcher’s mound (April 14, 1910)
  • Tom Seaver has the most career Opening Day starts (16) in his career (1968 - 1986)
  • Ted Williams made his major league debut on Opening Day (April 20, 1939) and was surrounded by a cast of legendary players. Lefty Grove, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, Bill Dickey, and Red Ruffing played in the game. Babe Ruth was also there in attendance.
  • The longest Opening Day game was played between the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays (16 innings on April 5, 2012)
  • Frank Robinson, Adam Dunn, and Ken Griffey Jr. are all tied for the most career Opening Day HRs (8)
  • The New York Mets have the highest Opening Day win percentage in MLB history (39-20 --- .661)
  • The Boston Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics played the first game in National League history on April 22, 1876. This is now widely considered the first Opening Day game ever played. Boston won 6-5.
  • Ozzie Smith started a campaign in 2014 to petition the national government to designate Opening Day as a national holiday.
  • The 35 runs combined by the Cleveland Indians (21) and St. Louis Browns (14) are the most runs ever scored in a single Opening day game (April 14, 1925)

What to Know About the 2021 MLB Season

We all know about the craziness that was the 2020 MLB season. The regular 162-game season was impacted by a global pandemic, and we were forced into a late-July “Opening Day” followed by a crowd-less 60-game schedule. It wasn’t the ideal scenario, but we were still fortunate enough to have at least some baseball to enjoy. While things may appear to be normalizing for our sport, there are still some things you might want to know as we roll into the 2021 season.

  • The 162-game regular season will run from April 1 (Opening Day) to October 3
  • The 2021 MLB All-Star Game is on July 13 at Atlanta’s Trust Park
  • The 2021 MLB Draft will be, for the first time, included in the All-Star Game festivities.
  • As of today, the MLB playoffs will return to the 10-team structure (6 division winners + 4 wild card winners) that we saw in 2019
  • Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer signed a 3yr/$102mil contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Other notable signings include: George Springer (Blue Jays) - J.T. Realmuto (Phillies) - D.J. LeMahieu (Yankees) - Marcell Ozuna (Braves)
  • The universal DH employed for the 2020 season will not return for 2021. Pitchers will be hitting in NL ballparks again.
  • Doubleheaders will remain 7 innings in length for the 2021 season.
  • Each half-inning (in extra innings) will begin with a runner on second base.
  • Rosters will remain expanded to 26 players. 
  • The minor league season will not begin until May 4

There you have it. Everything you need to know going into the 2021 season. Opening Day is finally upon us, and we hope you take a moment to rejoice. Summer is coming, baseball is here, and we will never take it for granted again!

Let us know on social media what teams/players you’re excited about this season. And if you’re interested in swinging pro-model wood bats, be sure to check out our full selection of the best wood bats around. We’re JustBats, and we’re with you from Click to Hit!

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