Opening Day

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Opening Day
Dodger Stadium Opening Day 2009.jpg
2009 Opening Day at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles
Observed byUnited States, Canada
2020 dateMarch 26
2021 dateApril 1

Opening Day is the day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season. For Major League Baseball and most of the minor leagues, this day typically falls during the first week of April, although in recent years it has fallen in the last week of March. In Nippon Professional Baseball, this day typically falls in the last week of March.

Baseball team sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objective of the offensive team is to hit the ball into the field of play, allowing it to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901, respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the major league clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Minor League Baseball hierarchy of professional baseball leagues affiliated with Major League Baseball

Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for the major leagues. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent baseball leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.


For baseball fans, Opening Day serves as a symbol of rebirth; writer Thomas Boswell once penned a book titled, Why Time Begins on Opening Day. [1] Many feel that the occasion represents a newness or a chance to forget last season, in that all 30 of the major league clubs and their millions of fans begin with 0–0 records. [1]

Thomas M. Boswell is an American sports columnist.

Opening Day festivities extend throughout the sport of baseball, from hundreds of Minor League Baseball franchises to college, high school, and youth leagues in North America and beyond. Since Major League Baseball generally starts their season first among professional leagues, their Opening Day is the one most commonly recognized by the general public. Most of the minor leagues start a few days later, but within the same week; the short season Class A and Rookie leagues are exceptions, since they begin play in June. (College, high school and youth baseball seasons vary widely depending on location and weather conditions.) Opening Day ignores the exhibition games played during spring training in the month leading up to Opening Day.

College baseball Baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education

College baseball is baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education. In comparison to football and basketball, college competition in the United States plays a smaller role in developing professional players, as baseball's professional minor leagues are more extensive, with a greater history of supplying players to the top professional league. Moving directly from high school to the professional level is more common in baseball than in football or basketball. However, if players do opt to enroll at a four-year college to play baseball, they must complete three years to regain professional eligibility, unless they reach age 21 before starting their third year of college. Players who enroll at junior colleges regain eligibility after one year at that level. In the most recently completed 2017 season, there were 298 NCAA Division I teams in the United States.

Exhibition game Sporting event wherein the result has no external impact

An exhibition game is a sporting event whose prize money and impact on the player's or the team's rankings is either zero or otherwise greatly reduced. In team sports, matches of this type are often used to help coaches and managers select and condition players for the competitive matches of a league season or tournament. If the players usually play in different teams in other leagues, exhibition games offer an opportunity for the players to learn to work with each other. The games can be held between separate teams or between parts of the same team.

Spring training training during the spring season, in baseball

In Major League Baseball (MLB), spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives established players practice time prior to competitive play. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warm climates of Arizona and Florida to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many US college students.


The Findlay Market Parade at Fountain Square in Downtown Cincinnati in 2015. The parade has been held annually since 1920 to celebrate Opening Day in Cincinnati. FindlayMarketParade.jpg
The Findlay Market Parade at Fountain Square in Downtown Cincinnati in 2015. The parade has been held annually since 1920 to celebrate Opening Day in Cincinnati.

For generations, Opening Day has arrived amid pageantry. In Cincinnati, home of the sport's first professional team, the annual Findlay Market Parade marks an official "city holiday" with young and old alike taking the day off to cheer on the Reds. For decades, the first pitch of every major league season officially took place in Cincinnati, and the Reds remain the only major league team to always open the season with a home game (save for 1966, when they started the season at Philadelphia after rain washed out the opening series in Cincinnati; and 1990, when due to a lockout affecting the schedule they opened the season at Houston). [2] The Chicago Cubs have been the Reds' most common Opening Day opponent, visiting Cincinnati 36 times on Opening Day, most recently in 2007. The Pittsburgh Pirates, whom the current Reds organization played their first Opening Day against in 1882, is a close second with 32, most recently in 2019; no other team has more than 19 (by the St. Louis Cardinals, most recently in 2014), largely due to the Cubs and Pirates rotating as the Opening Day opponents from 1899 to 1916, then the two teams and the Cardinals rotated from 1917 to 1952. [3] Fittingly, the Reds were also the first team to host an Interleague game on Opening Day when the team hosted the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first year of year-round Interleague play in 2013. [4]

Cincinnati City in Ohio

Cincinnati is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and is the government seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers, the latter of which marks the state line with Kentucky. The city is the economic and cultural hub of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, the fastest growing economic power in the Midwestern United States based on increase of economic output, which had a population of 2,190,209 as of the 2018 census estimates. This makes it Ohio's largest metropolitan area and the nation's 28th-largest. With a city population estimated at 302,605, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and 65th in the United States. Cincinnati is also within a day's drive of 49.70% of the United States populace, the most of any city in the United States.

The Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 were baseball's first openly all-professional team, with ten salaried players. The Cincinnati Base Ball Club formed in 1866 and fielded competitive teams in the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) 1867–1870, a time of a transition that ambitious Cincinnati, Ohio businessmen and English-born ballplayer Harry Wright shaped as much as anyone. Major League Baseball recognized those events officially by sponsoring a centennial of professional baseball in 1969.

Findlay Market United States historic place

Findlay Market in historic Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio, is the state's oldest continuously operated public market. The Findlay Market Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on June 5, 1972. The market is the last remaining of the nine that once served Cincinnati.

Since 1994 ESPN has televised a regular-season game the night before "Opening Day" and recent years have seen the staging of season-opening series in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, and Australia. While these are technically "opening games", Major League Baseball still reserves the title "Opening Day" for the first day in which multiple games are played. (For the first time ever, three televised games were played on Sunday, April 3, 2016, before the traditional "Opening Day" slate of games on Monday, April 4.) [5] [6] [7]

<i>ESPN Major League Baseball</i> promotion of Major League Baseball on ESPN

ESPN Major League Baseball is a presentation of Major League Baseball on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN's MLB coverage debuted on April 9, 1990 with three Opening Day telecasts. ESPN Major League Baseball is guaranteed to remain on air until 2021. Starting in 2014, ESPN will return to broadcasting postseason baseball. ESPN has rights to any potential tiebreaker games and one of the two wild card games.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometers (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 129 million people, Mexico is the tenth most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states plus Mexico City (CDMX), which is the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the country include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana, and León.

Puerto Rico Unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

A home opener is a team's first game of the season on their home field.

Opening Day introductions at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2007
Opening Day introductions at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2007

Opening Day is a state of mind as well, with countless baseball fans known to recognize this unofficial holiday as a good reason to call in sick at work or be truant from school (as most teams typically play their home opener in the afternoon) and go out to the ballpark for the first of 162 regular season games. Teams' home openers serve as the only regular season games during the year in which the entire rosters of both teams as well as coaches and clubhouse staff are introduced to the crowd prior to the games; for the rest of the year, ballparks only introduce the starting lineups (including the designated hitter in American League ballparks) and the team's manager. Some teams, among them the New York Mets, have had their broadcasters as the master of pre-game ceremonies for their home openers, which also typically feature appearances by retired players, local celebrities or media personalities, politicians, and other dignitaries.

Truancy unexcused absence from school

Truancy is any intentional, unjustified, unauthorized, or illegal absence from compulsory education. It is a deliberate abscense by a student's own free will and usually does not refer to legitimate excused absences, such as ones related to medical conditions. Truancy is usually explicitly defined in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. Some children whose parents claim to homeschool have also been found truant in the United States. Other terms for truancy include playing hooky, skiving off, and bunking. Attending school but not going to class is called skipping class, cutting class, or, more formally, internal truancy. Recent estimates in the United States suggest that approximately 11% of adolescents have skipped school during the past month.

Designated hitter offensive position in baseball and softball

In baseball, the designated hitter rule is the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 5.11, adopted by the American League in 1973. The rule allows teams to have one player, known as the designated hitter, to bat in place of the pitcher. Since 1973, most collegiate, amateur, and professional leagues have adopted the rule or some variant. MLB's National League and Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League are the most prominent professional leagues that do not use a designated hitter.

American League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.

Prior to Opening Day, the teams' managers have to decide the starting pitchers for the game, an assignment typically given to the ace of each team's staff. [8] For a pitcher to start on Opening Day is considered an honor, regardless of whether they are on the home or visitor team. [9] Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, who played for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, once said: "An opener is not like any other game. There's that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can't lose 'em all." [1]

In 2014, Ozzie Smith, with the support of Anheuser-Busch, began a campaign using the We the People site on to petition the U.S. government to make Opening Day an official national holiday. [10] [11]

Memorable moments

President Woodrow Wilson throws out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day in 1916 Wilson opening day 1916.jpg
President Woodrow Wilson throws out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day in 1916

In 1907, the New York Giants forfeited their game at the Polo Grounds to the Philadelphia Phillies, 9–0, after rowdy fans made and threw snowballs. Without police available to restore order, umpire Bill Klem awarded the game to the Phillies. [12]

In 1940, Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller threw a no-hitter to open the season against the Chicago White Sox. It remains the only no-hitter in Opening Day history. [13]

Twelve U.S. Presidents have thrown the first ball of the season. On April 14, 1910, baseball enthusiast William Howard Taft attended the home opener in Washington, D.C., becoming the first U.S. President to throw out the first pitch to start a season. [14] Harry S. Truman threw first pitches with both his right and left arm in 1950. [1] On April 4, 1994, Bill Clinton inaugurated the Cleveland Indians' new ballpark, then known as Jacobs Field and now as Progressive Field, with the first pitch. [15]

Ted Williams was a .449 hitter in openers, with three home runs and fourteen runs batted in during fourteen such games and at least one hit in each game. [16]

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 714th career home run on Opening Day at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, tying Babe Ruth on Major League Baseball's all-time list. [1] Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs.

In 14 season openers for the Washington Senators, Walter Johnson pitched a record nine shutouts. Two of his more famous starts include a 3–0 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics in 1910 and a 1–0 marathon victory while battling the A's Eddie Rommel for 15 innings.

On March 29, 2018, Matt Davidson of the Chicago White Sox hit three home runs in his team's opener against the Kansas City Royals at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. He became the fourth major leaguer with three home runs on Opening Day, following the Toronto Blue Jays' George Bell in 1988, Chicago Cubs' Tuffy Rhodes in 1994 and the Detroit Tigers' Dmitri Young in 2005.

The St. Louis Cardinals were the first major league team to open their home season with a night game, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4–2 at Sportsman's Park on April 18, 1950. [17]

The longest Opening Day game in major league history was played on April 5, 2012 between the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays. The game, played at Cleveland's Progressive Field, ended with the Blue Jays beating the Indians, 7–4, in 16 innings. [18] The previous record for longest Opening Day game was on April 19, 1960, again at Cleveland. That game, lasting 15 innings, also saw the Indians in a losing effort, 4–2, versus the Detroit Tigers. The Philadelphia Athletics and Washington Senators also played a 15-inning season opener on April 13, 1926, with Washington winning, 1–0, at home.

On rare occasions, predominantly in the early 20th century, a team would open its home season with a doubleheader. The first of these came when the Boston Americans hosted the Philadelphia Athletics for two games on April 20, 1903, with Boston winning the first game, 9–4, and Philadelphia taking the second game, 10–7. [19] The most recent Opening Day doubleheader in the major leagues came on April 7, 1971, with the Chicago White Sox defeating the host Oakland Athletics in both games (6–5 and 12–4, respectively). [20]

In 1968, Greg Washburn, a pitcher in the California Angels organization, pitched two Opening Day games in the same year—first for the San Jose Bees of the California League, and then for the Quad City Angels of the Midwest League. Washburn won both openers 2–0. This is the only record of a pitcher pitching two openers in the same year in professional baseball.

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver has been a starting pitcher for the most Opening Day games in Major League history, doing the honors 16 times for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox. [21]

Recent Opening Days

Major League Baseball had most of its teams open the 2011 season on a Thursday (March 31) or Friday (April 1) rather than the traditional Monday, in order to prevent the World Series from extending into November. [22] Similarly, most teams opened the 2012 season on Thursday (April 5) or Friday (April 6). However, subsequent seasons through 2017 returned to Monday openers for most teams. For the 2018 season, all 30 teams were scheduled to open the season on Thursday, March 29 (the earliest domestic start for a regular season in MLB history, and the first time since 1968 that all major league teams were scheduled to start the season on the same day, although two games were subsequently rained out and postponed to Friday, March 30). [23] In 2019, MLB scheduled an even earlier opening day for most teams on Thursday, March 28; this excludes a two-game series on March 20 and 21 between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. [24]

International Opening Games

SeasonCityVenueGuest TeamScoreHome TeamRef
1999 Flag of Mexico.svg Monterrey Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey Colorado Rockies 8–2 San Diego Padres [25]
2000 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo Tokyo Dome Chicago Cubs 5–3 New York Mets [26]
New York Mets 5–1 Chicago Cubs [27]
2001 Flag of Puerto Rico.svg San Juan Hiram Bithorn Stadium Texas Rangers 0–9 Toronto Blue Jays [28]
2004 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo Tokyo Dome New York Yankees 3–8 Tampa Bay Devil Rays [29]
New York Yankees 12–1 Tampa Bay Devil Rays [30]
2008 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo Tokyo Dome Boston Red Sox 6–5 Oakland Athletics [31]
Boston Red Sox 1–5 Oakland Athletics [32]
2012 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo Tokyo Dome Seattle Mariners 3–1 Oakland Athletics [33]
Seattle Mariners 1–4 Oakland Athletics [34]
2014 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Sydney Sydney Cricket Ground Los Angeles Dodgers 3–1 Arizona Diamondbacks [35]
Los Angeles Dodgers 7–5 Arizona Diamondbacks [36]
2019 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo Tokyo Dome Seattle Mariners 9–7 Oakland Athletics [37]
Seattle Mariners 5–4 (12) Oakland Athletics [38]


In the beginning, there was no baseball. But ever since, there have been few beginnings as good as the start of a new baseball season. It is the most splendid time in sport, in part because baseball is about the only sport left—now that football players report to training camp before the Fourth of July, and hockey players start skating in Indian summer—that still has a time and is true to it.

There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness and the National Football League.

You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.

A home opener is always exciting, no matter if it's home or on the road.

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