The 2023 Major League Baseball season begins today, and we're in for a thrilling ride. For over a century, baseball's Opening Day has been celebrated as a “national holiday”, signifying an opportunity for each team to write a new chapter in their history books. From Babe Ruth's legendary home run in 1920 to the modern-day spectacle of Shohei Ohtani's dual pitching and hitting prowess, Opening Day is always full of surprises and excitement.
To fully appreciate Opening Day, it's important to understand its history. The first recorded Opening Day was in 1876 (Boston defeated Philadelphia), when the National League began its inaugural season. Since then, Opening Day has become a beloved tradition in the United States and beyond.
During the first half of the 20th century, Opening Day was a major event in American culture. Many teams would hold parades and other celebrations to mark the beginning of the season.The Cincinnati Reds still hold a parade every year. The President of the United States would often throw out the first pitch at the Washington Senators' home opener. And baseball writers would cover Opening Day as if it were Christmas combined with the SuperBowl. The significance of Opening Day only grew in the post-World War II era. With the rise of television and the increasing popularity of baseball, the first game of the season became a national event. Fans would tune in from all over the country to watch their favorite teams take the field for the first time.
Today, Opening Day remains one of the biggest events in sports. It's a day when every team has a chance to start fresh and make a run at the PostSeason & World Series. And with the rise of social media, fans can now follow every pitch and every play from anywhere in the world.
Here are 10 facts about Opening Day:
- Cincinnati has the distinction of being “home” to Opening Day in Major League Baseball
- In 1910, William Howard Taft became the first president to throw the first pitch
- The most Opening Day starts by a pitcher is 16, held by Tom Seaver
- Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax only started one season opener, but fittingly, he pitched a shutout to start the 1964 season
- The Cubs' 80 Opening Day wins in MLB play are the most of any team.
- The first night Opening Day game was played in April 1950, between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Ken Griffey Jr. hit eight career homers on Opening Day, tied with Frank Robinson and Adam Dunn for the most in MLB history.
- Randy Johnson had an MLB-record 107 strikeouts on Opening Day (including two 14-K starts for the Mariners)
- Of the Yankees' record 27 World Series championship seasons, 17 began with an Opening Day win
- In 2021, Shohei Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to be the starting pitcher and batting leadoff in the same game on Opening Day.
But while history is important, it's the present that truly excites fans. This year, all eyes will be on superstars like Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Trea Turner as they take the field on Opening Day. Will they live up to the hype, or will a newcomer steal the show? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: Opening Day is always full of surprises and excitement, and this year will be no exception. Go buy Jax Batting Gloves!