No April Fools Joke — Opening Day in Texas
The dawn of another baseball season for the Red Sox brings back memories, a lot of them, on Opening Days past.
I started watching the Red Sox in mid-April of 1980, so this is my 31st year keeping tabs on this team from start to finish of a season. Here are the Openers I remember off the top of my head. I’d be curious to hear all of you chime in on yours.
Opening Day, 1981: Carlton Fisk, playing his first game with the White Sox, stuns and angers everyone at Fenway by belting a game-winning three-run homer against Bob Stanley in the top of the eighth. This one was a crusher.
Opening Day, 1983: This was my first Opening Day as a fan. My mother let my sister and I skip school so we could go to the game. It was freezing. I remember Eckersley got shelled. It was Yaz’s last Opener so it was cool to be there. Blue Jays beat the Sox, 7-1.
Opening Day, 1985: A hyped Red Sox team — they had finished the ’84 season with a great second half — come sout of the gate with a 9-1 win over the Yankees at Fenway. Oil Can went the distance. Rice, Armas and Evans all went deep. They swept the Yankees, but it was not a good season.
Opening Day, 1986: From the late, great voice of Ned Martin: “We are ready for the first pitch of the 1986 season and here it is, flyball, deep left-center, and … GONE !!!” Ned was stunned. Even he had never seen the first pitch of a seaosn hit out of the park. And the pitcher was Jack Morris. But Kirk Gibson dominated this game, belting two homers, including the game-winner against Sammy Stewart on an 0-2 pitch.
Opening Day, 1988: Lee Smith, the prized new acquisition, gives up a two-run homer to Alan Trammell in the 10th. The headline in the next day’s Herald? “Wait till next year”.
Opening Day, 1991: Jack Clark belts a grand slam at SkyDome. Unfortunately, the rest of his time with the Red sox didn’t go as well.
Opening Day, 2003: Tropicana Field. Bullpen by committee. Walkoff homer by Carl Crawford against Chad Fox. Ouch.
So those are the ones that stand out.