March 2010

Opening Day: T-minus Five

After a winter without baseball, we all look forward to having the game back. You want to take in as much baseball as you can and because there has not been a doubleheader on Opening Day since 1971 (White Sox at Oakland – swept by the visitors) your next best bet is extra innings.

And if you are a Kansas City fan you might want to hope for that because extra innings on Opening Day have been very good to the Royals. There have been four extra innings games in Royals history on Opening Day with the Royals winning 3 of the 4:

 

1969 – April 8 (Municipal Stadium – Kansas City)

Twins

3

 

Royals

4

12 Innings

Joe Keough one-out pinch-hit single scores Joe Foy with the game winner.
 

1972 – April 15 (Municipal Stadium – Kansas City)

White Sox

1

 

Royals

2

11 Innings

John Mayberry two-out single scores Paul Schaal with the game winner.

2008 – March 31 (Comerica Park – Detroit)

Royals

5

 

Tigers

4

11 Innings

Tony Pena Jr two-out single scores John Buck with the go-ahead run.

 

The only Opening Day extra inning loss came on April 9, 1990 at Royals Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles when Cal Ripken scored Joe Orsulak with a single against Mark Davis to give the O’s a 7-6 win in 11 innings.

Did You Know?: The Royals have been rained or snowed out on Opening Day four times – mostly recently last year on April 6, 2009 in Chicago. The only Opening Day game postponed here in Kansas City came on April 2, 1984 when the Royals were set to host the New York Yankees. The season got started the next day when the Royals beat the Yankees 4-2 starting Kansas City to a surprising 1984 American League Western Division Championship.

(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)

Opening Day: T-minus Six

Opening Day 2009.JPGWe are less than a week away from Opening Day and the winter seems to have finally faded away – though here in Kansas City we got one last blast of snow less than two weeks ago. No matter now, as the grass at Kauffman Stadium is green; workers are all busy getting the ballpark ready (including putting the finishing touches on the new Strouds location adjacent to the Royals Hall of Fame – Mmmmmm cinnamon rolls); and the boys in blue are finishing up down in Surprise.

For baseball fans Opening Day is one of the most anticipated events of the year. In some cases it has nearly become a local holiday which is true in Kansas City at least back to 1985 when Opening Day sellout crowds have become an annual tradition (with the one exception of 1995). The 2010 season continues that line and, if the forecast holds, it looks to be a spectacular spring day for 40,000 fans to welcome home the Royals for another year of Major League Baseball in Kansas City.

To get you ready here are some Kansas City Royals Opening Day facts, notes and oddities as we countdown to Monday, April 5 vs Detroit at 3:10 here at Kauffman Stadium:

 

Overall Record on Opening Day (First Game of Season):

15-26

Record for Opening Day at Home:

10-11 

Record for Home Openers (First Game at Home):

21-20

Pitcher with Most Opening Day Starts:

Kevin Appier (7)

Position Player with Most Opening Day Starts:

Frank White (15)

Current Player with Most Consecutive Opening Day Starts:

David DeJesus (5)

1969 Royals Opening Day Lineup:

Order

Name

Position

Number

1

Lou Piniella

CF

9

2

Jerry Adair

2B

14

3

Ed Kirkpatrick

LF

8

4

Joy Foy

3B

1

5

Chuck Harrison

1B

7

6

Bob Oliver

RF

33

7

Ellie Rodriguez

C

11

8

Jackie Hernandez

SS

24

9

Wally Bunker

SP

27

Managed by 2009 National Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Gordon (who wore #6)

Trivia Question(s): Three parter here – if you get the trifecta you are truly a Royals expert. What year did George Brett make his first Opening Day start? Where in the order did he bat? Who hit just in front of him?

 

Did You Know?: Only three times in Major League Baseball history has a player recorded three (3) home runs on Opening Day. Unfortunately on two of those ocassions it was against the Royals.

Reigning American League MVP George Bell of the Toronto Blue Jays had three against Bret Saberhagen at Royals Stadium on April 4, 1988. The Royals lost 5-3. (Very bad day for me – later that night the Jayhawks beat my Sooners for the NCAA Basketball Championship and it still hurts 22 years later).

On April 4, 2005 Dmitri Young of the Tigers had three against the Royals at Commerica Park in Detroit – two aginst Jose Lima and a third off Mike MacDougal. The only time the feat has happened in the National League also has a Royals connection. Former Kansas City farmhand Karl ‘Tuffy’ Rhodes blasted three home runs off Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets on April 4, 1994 – but his Cubs still lost the game 12-8 at Wrigley Field in Chicago (its must have been a windy day at the friendly confines).

 

Trivia Answer(s): George was in the Royals Opening Day Lineup for the first time on April 7, 1975 against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium. He batted sixth and went 1-3 in the Royals tough 3-2 loss (the Angels rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth). His fellow future National Baseball Hall of Fame Member Harmon Killebrew was the Royals DH and was in the five hole. 

(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)

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