Opening Day. The words are just charged with optimism and excitement. We wait all offseason to hear them. And now, we’re lucky to enjoy the long season of baseball ahead.
To help you get ready, a look now at some Red Sox (and MLB) records for Opening Day starters and other assorted milestones for our favorite club.
Pitcher No one has been on the mound to start a Red Sox season more than Roger Clemens. He did it eight times from 1988-94 and 1996. Pedro Martinez opened seven seasons (1998-2004). Dennis Eckersley has the third most such starts with five games (1979-83). Mel Parnell, Bill Monbouquette, and Jon Lester each had the honor in four Sox season openers.
Tom Seaver owns the MLB record for most Opening Day starts. He had 16 with the Mets, Reds, and White Sox.
Catcher Jason Vartiek is the club leader for Opening Day starts behind the plate (10, 2000-09). Sammy White and Rich Gedman are next with six each. Ivan Rodriguez is the MLB all-time leader with 20 such starts with five different clubs.
1B Mo Vaughn (1992-98) and George Scott (1967-68, 70-71, 77-79) hold the Sox record for Opening Days with seven starts each. Kevin Youkilis and Jimmie Foxx did it six times. Joe Judge is the MLB all-time leader with 19 starts for the Washington Senators, Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Red Sox from 1916-34.
2B If it involves second base, Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr likely holds a record, though Dustin Pedroia is fast on his heels. Doerr started in a club-best 13 Opening Days at 2B (1937-41, 43-44, 46-51). Pedroia is second on the club list with nine such starts (2007-15). Hall of Famer Joe Morgan holds the MLB record for most Opening Day starts at second. He did it with five clubs from 1965-84).
Bonus fact: At 19 years, 13 days old on April 20, 1937, Bobby Doerr also holds the distinction of being the club’s youngest Opening Day starter since at least 1913.
SS Everett Scott opened eight Sox seasons at shortstop (1914-21). Hall of Famer Joe Cronin is next on the list with seven such starts. Nomar Garciaparra, Rico Petrocelli, and Rick Burleson each did it six times. Omar Vizquel (1989-2007) and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (1956-73) hold the MLB record with 18 Opening Day starts at short. Aparicio made three of those starts with the Red Sox in 1971-73, the final three seasons of his career.
3B The great Wade Boggs, of whom much will be said in 2016, holds the Red Sox record for most Opening Day games at third. The Hall of Famer had ten such games (1983-92). Frank Malzone is next on the list with nine, followed by Petrocelli with six. Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson is the all-time top third baseman for Opening Day starts. Robinson had 20 of them, all with the Orioles.
Outfield Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski has the most outfield starts on Opening Day in club history (16, 1961-79), followed by Dwight Evans (15), Hall of Famers Ted Williams (13) and Jim Rice (11), and Dom DiMaggio (10).
Yastrzemski started in a club-record 22 Opening Days over his career split between left field (15 games), first base (4), designated hitter (2) and right field (1). Starting at four different positions over a career is a lot, no doubt, but the Sox record for such is held by Jack Rothrock, who was on the field for Opening Day at a club-record five positions (shortstop, third base, and all three outfield positions) from 1928-32.
Bonus fact: At 42 years, 226 days old on April 5, 1983, Yastrzemski holds the distinction of being the club’s oldest Opening Day starter since at least 1913.
DH No one comes close to David Ortiz for Opening Day games as the Red Sox designated hitter. He’s done it 10 times from 2004-14 (because the Sox opened 2015 at the Phillies, a National League club, there was no DH; Ortiz played defensively at first base). Jim Rice is 2nd on the club list with three such starts. With Big Papi’s two Opening Day starts as a member of the Twins, he is tied with Don Baylor for the most Opening Day DH starts in MLB history. Presumably, that’s a record he’ll break when the Sox take the field against the Indians this Opening Day.
On field achievements
Most Home Runs Yastrzemski and Dwight Evans are the club leaders for HRs in Day One games. They each had five such games. Dustin Pedroia, Jim Rice and Ted Williams have homered in three Opening Day Games.
Last season, in what seemed a promising display of Red Sox offensive, Hanley Ramirez and Pedroia joined Carlton Fisk (1973), Lenny Green (1965), Ted Lepcio (1955) and Yastrzemski (1968) as the only Sox to have a club-best 2 HRs in an Opening Day game.
Longest Hit Streak Eddie Bressoud hit in club-best 20 straight games to start the 1964 Red Sox season. He’s followed by Elmer Smith (18 games, 1922) and Carl Reynolds (17 games, 1934). David Ortiz (2013) is tied with Tony Pena (1990) and Jim Rice (1989) for the fourth longest Sox hitting streak to start a season, each with 15 such games.
Most Strikeouts by a Red Sox pitcher Three times Red Sox starters have struck out a club-best 11 opponents in an Opening Day game. It happened in 1998 and 2000 by Pedro Martinez and in 1988 by Roger Clemens. Last season, Clay Buchholzh struck out nine, tying him for 3rd most in club history with outings by Martinez (1999) and Joe Dobson (1948).
Fewest Hits Allowed Since 1913 there’s only been one Opening Day no-hitter. It happened when Hall of Famer Bob Feller led the Indians to a first game win over the White Sox, April 16, 1940. Feller allowed 0 hits, 5 walks, and struck out 8. Chicago pitcher Eddie Smith allowed 6 hits, but only 1 run to go with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts in the 1-0 loss to Cleveland.
The fewest hits allowed by the Red Sox in an Opening Day game is two. It’s happened four times, most recently on April 4, 2002. Pedro and Derek Lowe combined in that game for 2 hits, 2 walks, and 12 strikeouts in the 2-0 win at Seattle. Boston allowed 15 opponent hits in 2005, a 9-2 loss to the Yankees, and one of five times that club record has been witnessed.
The Red Sox are 56-58-1 in Opening Day games for all time, 7-9 since 2000.
Since 1913 only one Red Sox team, the 1941 club, finished their Opening Day game with a walk-off win, scoring 3 runs at home in the bottom of the 9th with an RBI single from Ted Williams, another single by Lou Finney that tied things up, and a bases loaded walk to Joe Cronin that won the game.
The last time every Sox player had a hit in an Opening Day game was April 17, 1956. It’s only happened three other times since 1913. Conversely, the Sox were held to just one hit on Opening Day 1915, losing 2-0 to the Philadelphia Athletics, whose Herb Pennock went all nine innings allowing just the one hit and one walk.
Boston scored 15 runs April 6, 1973 facing the Yankees, it’s their most runs in an Opening Day match since at least 1913. The Sox have suffered eight first day shutouts, most recently in 1976 against the Orioles.