The best Opening Day moments, the ones that become ingrained in baseball culture, are unpredictable. From iconic debuts to dramatic walk-off wins, here is the best Opening Day moment from each of the 30 Major League teams.
Angels: April 1, 2013
Iannetta shines in MLB’s first Interleague opener
Chris Iannetta drove in all three runs for the Angels, hitting a solo home run and delivering a bases-loaded single in the 13th inning to topple the Reds in the first Interleague opener in MLB history. Jered Weaver started for the Halos and became the first AL pitcher to bat on Opening Day since 1972. At four hours and 45 minutes, the Angels’ 3-1 win marked the longest season opener in franchise history.
Astros: March 29, 2018
Springer Dinger, Part 2
Astros fans got a little Opening Day deja vu from their World Series MVP in 2018. Fresh off his amazing Fall Classic performance, George Springer kicked off the reigning champs’ 2018 campaign with a leadoff home run on Opening Day against the Rangers. It was the second straight season he’d done it — yes, Springer also kicked off Houston’s title run in 2017 with an Opening Day leadoff homer. That made him the first player in MLB history to hit leadoff home runs on Opening Day in consecutive seasons.
A’s: April 1, 2003
Durazo drives in all five runs in shutout
New acquisition Erubiel Durazo introduced himself to Oakland by hitting a two-run homer off Seattle’s Freddy Garcia in his first at-bat. He added a three-run double in the fifth inning, accounting for all of the game’s runs. The A’s beat the Mariners, 5-0.
Blue Jays: April 7, 1977
Ault crushes first home run in franchise history
The first game in the Blue Jays’ history provided one of the franchise’s most iconic moments. A snowstorm threw the status of the game into question, but the Jays and White Sox did manage to take the field. In the bottom of the first inning, Doug Ault hit a home run off of White Sox starter Ken Brett. Ault added another home run in the third as the Blue Jays had their first win, 6-5, and their first star. Honorable mention goes to George Bell, who became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs on Opening Day (April 4, 1988).
Indians: April 4, 1994
Kirby’s walk-off single caps big comeback
Hall of Famer Bob Feller’s no-hitter against the White Sox in 1940 remains the only Opening Day no-no in baseball history. The late Feller nearly saw Randy Johnson match the feat in what turned into an incredible opener for the Indians on April 4, 1994. 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 Cleveland to a walk-off win with an 11th-inning single for a wild 4-3 victory.
Orioles: April 12, 1966
Baltimore wins it on a balk in extras
The score remained tied through the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th innings, during which the Orioles and Red Sox combined for only two baserunners. But in the top of the 13th, Bob Johnson singled against Boston reliever Jim Lonborg. He moved to third after a sac bunt and a sac fly. Red Sox manager Billy Herman intentionally walked catcher Vic Roznovsky to get to pitcher Stu Miller. Orioles manager Hank Bauer countered by pinch-hitting Jerry Adair for Miller, loading the bases for Luis Aparicio. Lonborg balked to bring home the winning run.
Mariners: April 6, 2009
Griffey slugs eighth Opening Day home run
In his first game back with the Mariners after nine seasons with the Reds, Ken Griffey Jr. picked up where he’d left off by hitting his eighth Opening Day home run — a fifth-inning solo shot off Francisco Liriano — to tie Frank Robinson for the most Opening Day homers in MLB history. The effort helped make a winner of Felix Hernandez, who gave up one run over eight innings in what was the first of 10 straight Opening Day starts for the King. The Mariners beat the Twins, 6-1.
Rangers: April 8, 1978
Zisk walks off vs. defending champ Yankees
The Yankees were the defending World Series champions, while the Rangers were coming off a 94-win season. The game was on national television and Arlington Stadium was sold out. Texas had signed Richie Zisk to an eight-year, $2.8 million contract in the offseason. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff home run off Hall of Fame reliever Rich Gossage to give the Rangers a walk-off 2-1 victory. Jon Matlack, who had been acquired from the Mets in the offseason, pitched a complete game.
Rays: March 31, 2003
Crawford caps ninth-inning comeback on walk-off homer
The Red Sox opened the season at Tropicana Field against the Devil Rays, and they took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Terry Shumpert hit a two-run homer off Alan Embree, then Chad Fox entered the game with one runner on and got the first and second outs. He walked Marlon Anderson to put the winning run on first, but that didn’t matter as Carl Crawford stepped to the plate and rerouted a Fox offering over the wall in right for a three-run homer to give Tampa Bay the walk-off 6-4 win.
Red Sox: April 7, 1986
Evans homers on first pitch to open thrilling season
Yes, the best Opening Day moment in Red Sox history came in an eventual 6-5 loss to the Tigers. As Dwight Evans stepped to the plate, he was not only the first batter for Boston in 1986, but he was the first in MLB for the entire season. Evans jumped on the first pitch from eventual Hall of Famer Jack Morris and smashed it over the fence in left-center at Tiger Stadium. Red Sox play-by-play man Ned Martin’s voice was shaking as Evans ran around the bases. It was an omen of what would be a thrilling season for Boston, which won the AL pennant for the first time since 1975.
Royals: April 4, 2004
Kansas City carves six-run ninth inning in walk-off win
The Royals were trailing the White Sox by four going into the bottom of the ninth. Two walks and an RBI double by Benito Santiago brought Kansas City within one run. Then light-hitting Mendy Lopez launched a three-run home run, which he later said was the longest ball he had ever hit in his life. A single by Angel Berroa and a walk-off two-run homer by Carlos Beltran gave the Royals a very improbable 9-7 win.
Tigers: April 4, 2005
Young homers thrice, makes history
The anticipation was for Magglio Ordonez in his Tigers debut at Comerica Park, but Dmitri Young stole the show with three home runs, joining George Bell and Tuffy Rhodes as the only Major Leaguers to hit three homers on Opening Day. He earned a curtain call from a raucous crowd in Detroit, where the first-pitch temperature was a balmy 68 degrees in the 11-2 win.
Twins: April 12, 2010
Target Field opener made special by Pavano, Kubel
After playing indoors in the Metrodome for 27 years, the Twins returned to playing in the Minnesota outdoors in the Target Field opener in 2010. They beat the Red Sox, 5-2, behind a strong pitching performance from Carl Pavano and a homer from Jason Kubel. Minnesota went on to win the AL Central title, which is the last time the franchise accomplished the feat.
White Sox: April 5, 2010
Buehrle’s no-look flip goes down in history
The White Sox claimed a season-opening 6-0 victory over the Indians behind home runs from Paul Konerko and Alex Rios. Mark Buehrle threw seven scoreless innings, but it was his defensive effort on a Lou Marson grounder off of his left leg in the fifth that will stand out forever. The left-handed-throwing Buehrle recovered the grounder on the run, as it ricocheted toward the first-base line, and he no-look flipped the ball with his glove between his legs. Konerko made the barehanded catch at first to end one of the top defensive plays in franchise history.
Yankees: April 2, 1996
A young Captain steals the show
Derek Jeter announced his presence on the big league stage en route to winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award, homering off Dennis Martinez and making an acrobatic over-the-shoulder catch as the Yankees rolled to a 7-1 win on Opening Day in Cleveland.
Braves: April 5, 2010
Heyward homers on first career swing
A standing-room only crowd packed Turner Field to celebrate the Major League debut of Jason Heyward, a suburban Atlanta native who stood as baseball’s top prospect. Heyward sent the hometown faithful into a frenzy when he homered on the first swing of his career. The three-run shot off Carlos Zambrano created what is considered to be one of the loudest roars heard during the history of the Braves’ former stadium. The Braves beat the Cubs, 16-5, in their 2010 opener.
Brewers: April 10, 1980
Lezcano gets Opening Day grand slam crown
Sixto Lezcano was a beast on Opening Day. He hit a grand slam in the 1978 opener, and he had already smacked a two-run home run earlier in the Brewers’ ’80 Opening Day game against the Red Sox when he stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dick Drago, the same hurler who had surrendered Hank Aaron’s 755th and final home run at County Stadium four years earlier. Lezcano provided another highlight when he connected for a walk-off grand slam, making him the first Major Leaguer to hit two slams in season openers, en route to the 9-5 win.
Cardinals: April 2, 1998
McGwire sparks historic homer season with grand slam
Mark McGwire’s ascension on Roger Maris’ single-season home run record began in grand style on Opening Day 1998, when McGwire’s fifth-inning grand slam off Ramon Martinez sent the Cardinals to a 6-0 win. It was the swing that started a summer of slugging in St. Louis, and it set up McGwire’s race to Maris’ record against Chicago’s Sammy Sosa. McGwire finished the season with 70 home runs, then the all-time single-season mark.
Cubs: March 29, 2018
Happ opens MLB season with a bang
It wasn’t just Opening Day, it was opening pitch. The 2018 MLB season began with the Cubs facing the Marlins — and Ian Happ crushing a leadoff home run to right field on the first pitch he saw from the Marlins’ Jose Urena. That made Happ the first player to lead off the league year with a homer on the very first pitch since Red Sox slugger Dwight Evans did it against Hall of Famer Jack Morris in 1986.
D-backs: April 1, 2002
Big Unit throws 130-pitch shutout
Before the game, the D-backs unveiled their 2001 World Series banner and manager Bob Brenly carried the World Series trophy out to home plate when he was announced along with the starting lineup. Randy Johnson made sure Arizona came away with the 2-0 win, tossing a six-hit shutout while striking out eight and throwing 130 pitches.
Dodgers: April 15, 1947
Robinson breaks the color barrier
The Dodgers have no shortage of Opening Day highlights in Los Angeles — from the debuts of the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium, to Fernando Valenzuela’s emergency-start shutout in 1981 that launched Fernandomania. But nothing had a greater impact on baseball and American society than Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier when he started at first base for Brooklyn on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers beat the Braves, 5-3.
Giants: April 10, 1962
Mays sets tone with first-inning homer
Willie Mays homered on the first pitch he saw from Warren Spahn with two outs in the first inning. That set the tone for the rest of the afternoon and the rest of the season. Juan Marichal pitched a three-hit 6-0 shutout against the Braves. The same year, the Giants won the NL pennant by defeating the Dodgers in a best-of-three tiebreaker. Mays also homered on the first pitch he saw in 1971, off San Diego’s Tom Phoebus. Marichal pitched a five-hit shutout that night and San Francisco went on to capture the NL West, edging Los Angeles by one game.
Marlins: April 5, 1993
Franchise history starts with a W
To longtime Marlins fans, the inaugural game remains the most memorable Opening Day in franchise history. Charlie Hough, then 45, fluttered his first-pitch knuckleball and got a generous strike call on Jose Offerman. It was that kind of magical day in South Florida as the Marlins beat the Dodgers, 6-3, in front of 42,334 fans.
Mets: April 9, 1985
Carter’s debut a memorable one in Flushing
The Mets appeared ready to take their perch as one of the NL’s best teams when they acquired Expos catcher Gary Carter in a trade at the 1984 Winter Meetings. Four months later, Carter hit a 10th-inning walk-off homer in his debut to lead the Mets to the first of their 98 victories in a 6-5 win over the Cardinals.
Nationals: March 30, 2008
Zim caps win with walk-off homer
The Nationals opened up brand-new Nationals Park on center stage in front of a national television audience with a bang, capped with a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth inning against Braves right-hander Peter Moylan. President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Nats manager Manny Acta, which eventually set the stage for Zimmerman’s heroics en route to the 3-2 win.
Padres: April 8, 2004
Petco Park makes first appearance in dramatic fashion
The Padres unveiled their shiny new ballpark in the East Village with an instant classic. Petco Park’s first Opening Day saw the Giants come to town, and the game lived up to its billing. San Francisco scored two runs in the ninth off Trevor Hoffman to take the lead, but San Diego would tie the game on Sean Burroughs’ RBI single in the bottom of the frame. The Giants would again take the lead in the 10th, before the Friars mounted another rally. Miguel Ojeda’s two-out double tied things up, and Burroughs walked off with a single another batter later, giving San Diego its first Petco Park victory, 4-3.
Phillies: April 5, 2010
Halladay spins gem in Phils debut
In one of the most highly anticipated Opening Days in franchise history, newly acquired ace Roy Halladay allowed just one run in seven innings at Nationals Park. He struck out nine in the 11-1 win. Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco each homered and Jimmy Rollins tripled as the Phillies were on their way to the fourth of five consecutive NL East championships.
Pirates: April 1, 2011
Hometown hero crushes Opening Day slam
The Pirates were down, 2-0, when “Pittsburgh Kid” Neil Walker stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Facing Ryan Dempster with two outs, Walker blasted a full-count pitch out to right field for a grand slam. Andrew McCutchen homered off Dempster in the seventh, and Joel Hanrahan recorded the save to secure the 6-3 victory over the Cubs.
Reds: April 4, 1974
Rose races home from second on wild pitch
Pete Rose went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a walk and three runs while reaching base four times in the 7-6 win. Rose hit an RBI double to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth to force extras. He hit a two-out double in the 11th and scored the winning run by coming home, from second base, on a wild pitch. It was another play for the ages by the future all-time hits leader.
Rockies: April 26, 1995
Rox win wild one in Coors inauguration
The first Opening Day at Coors Field set the tone for what now is decades of wild baseball. On April 26, 1995, the opener with the Mets went well into the night — 14 innings. The Mets took a 9-8 lead in the top of the 14th, but Dante Bichette parked a no-doubt two-run homer off Mike Remlinger in the Rockies’ 11-9 win. Bichette’s fist pump toward his teammates in the dugout — before the ball had even cleared the wall — is considered the first iconic moment at Coors. It was immortalized with a bobblehead.