The Philadelphia Phillies have not been a very good team on opening day in recent history. Since 1972, the Phillies are 13-27 to start the season. That's an awful .325 winning percentage that would equate to a full season record of 53-109.
Hall of Famer Steve Carlton was just as bad on opening day. In his 14 opening day starts, Lefty went 3-9 and the Phils were 4-10 in those games. He was defeated by a couple other Hall of Famers like Fergie Jenkins and Tom Seaver while also being out dueled by future Phillie Cy Young Award winner John Denny.
Mike Schmidt hit four opening day dingers during that span.
During the last 40 years, the Phillies have opened up the season vs the Mets and Braves the most, at seven times each. Tomorrow will be the fourth time since 1972 the Phillies will open up with the Pirates.
The following list is the top 10 opening days for the Phillies over the last 40 years.
There was plenty of excitement in the air as the 1993 NL Pennant winners took off for the 1994 season. A strike was a few months away and the Vet was packed.
The Phillies crushed the Rockies, who were in their second year of existence, 12-6. Second baseman Mariano Duncan went 3-6 with two runs and six RBI to overcome a rare opening day shaky start by Curt Schilling. Schilling allowed four runs in six innings.
Heathcliff Slocumb got the win in relief, and the Phils won on opening day for just the second time in 10 seasons.
Right-hander Curt Schilling completely shut down the Dodgers lineup. He tossed eight innings, allowing zero runs while walking three and striking out 11. The Phillies didn't do much at the plate, but shortstop Kevin Stocker paced the bats with a 3-4 day.
Halladay's debut in a Phillies uniform was successful.
The Phillies had won back to back pennants then brought in arguably the best pitcher in baseball in the off-season to make a run at another championship. There wasn't much intrigue to this game; it was a blowout after the first inning when Doc allowed a run.
Halladay cruised the rest of the way pitching seven innings and striking out nine. Placido Polanco hit a grand slam and knocked in six runs, while Ryan Howard added a homer as well.
The Phillies have been shut out five times on opening day since 1972.
Tom Seaver shut them down in 1973 as the Mets were on their way to the World Series. Seaver did so again in 1983, a year the Phils won the pennant. Braves starter Rick Mahler contributed to a combined shutout in 1985 and then went the distance to shut down the 1987 Phillies. And, then in 1998, the Mets used six different pitchers to down the Phillies 1-0 in 14 innings! Turk Wendell, a future Phillie, got the win for the Mets.
But in 1984, Steve Carlton got his by blanking the Braves. Lefty hurled seven innings, walked one and struck out six. Mike Schmidt added a home run, the Phillies winning 5-0.
Thome's signing signaled a new era in Philadelphia was coming.
The Phillies had stunk since 1993. They had some kids in the minors and some young stars like Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins, yet were missing that marquee bat. Also, with the cement turf of the Vet and losing atmosphere, the Phillies were not very attractive to free agents.
That started to change in a big way when the Phillies signed Indians slugger (and now future Hall of Famer) Jim Thome between the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
The 2003 season opened in Florida and Thome did not disappoint. Big Jim went 3-4 with a run and a RBI. David Bell added two hits and three runs scored. Kevin Millwood pitched well enough to get the win.
The winds of change were being felt in Philadelphia.
The Phillies and Expos went down to the wire in 1980. Little did they know on opening day how important every head-to-head match-up would be. Also, after the Phillies won back-to-back-to-back NL East titles from 1976 through 1978, they finished a disappointing fourth in 1979.
The Bull, Greg Luzinski, put 1979 in the rear view mirror with a three-run jack in the first inning to put the Phillies up 3-0. Then, Steve Carlton hurled a complete game. Bake McBride and Manny Trillo added two hits each and the march to the first World Championship in Phillies history was underway.
The Phillies got off to an amazing start in 1993; Terry Mulholland got it going on opening day. Mulholland, pitching in the Astrodome, could have had a complete game shutout if it wasn't for a 9th inning error by shortstop Juan Bell.
It was Bell's second error of the game and his tenure as Phillies shortstop didn't last very long. Mulholland went the distance allowing four hits, walked one and struck out three. The Phillies went on to sweep the Astros and the march to the World Series was on.
The 1972 Phillies were a dreadful team. However, opening day showed a couple of bright spots that would eventually take them all the way to a World Championship.
First, Steve Carlton's 1972 season has been chronicled time and again. No need to go through the entire season here but, on opening day, he defeated Cubs ace Ferguson Jenkins 4-2. Lefty went eight innings allowing two runs and struck out five. Rookie left fielder Greg Luzinski hit a home run to lead the offense.
Again, the season was miserable...but they were 1-0 at one time.
The Phillies were supposed to be great. The Astros were supposed to be terrible. But heading to the bottom of the 7th, the Astros had a 4-0 lead over Roy Halladay and company. It looked like the season with all of the "Four Aces" promise would start with a thud.
However, the Phillies scored two in the bottom of the 7th and John Mayberry had a pinch hit game winning single in the 9th, while the Phils scored three runs off Astros closer Brandon Lyon to win in dramatic come from behind fashion. Danys Báez was the winning pitcher.
This set the tone for a record-setting 102-win season.
Opening day, 1974.
Tom Seaver vs. Steve Carlton.
The defending National League champs vs. an upcoming group of youngsters featuring shortstop Larry Bowa, left fielder Greg Luzinski, catcher Bob Boone and third baseman Mike Schmidt.
When Phillies manager Danny Ozark penciled in his lineup, batting eighth...yes eighth...after Boone was Schmidt. A future Hall of Famer and probably the best third baseman to ever play the game, Schmidt opened the 1974 season as the eighth hitter in the lineup. Del Unser played center and hit third!
Both teams scored a run in the first inning, the Phillies run coming on an Unser single. Carlton gave up solo runs in the third and fourth innings, making the score 3-1.
It stayed that way until the sixth. Bowa singled to start the inning, followed by an Unser single that got away from left fielder Cleon Jones which enabled Bowa to score. Luzinski doubled to right off Seaver to tie the score at 3.
The Mets answered with an unearned run off Mike Wallace in the seventh inning to take a 4-3 lead.
Tug McGraw entered the game in the eighth inning for the Mets and breezed through Unser, Luzinski, and Willie Montanez with a pop out and two K's.
Mac Scarce pitched out of a jam in the top of the ninth to keep the score 4-3 setting the stage for the bottom.
Pinch hitter Tony Taylor led off the inning with a single to center. Ozark gave Boone the bunt signal and Boonie got the job done moving pinch runner Billy Grabarkewitz to second.
Eight-hole hitter Schmidt was 0-3 with a strikeout vs. Seaver and was now trying his luck off future teammate and carpool buddy McGraw. Well, Tugger left one out over the plate and 24-year-old Schmidt promptly crushed his 20th career home run to win the game 5-4. Little did anyone know at that time that Schmidt would hit 528 more after that opening day game winner.