Chicks Dig the Long Ball: Ranking 10 Most Dazzling Homers in Opening Day History
MLB Opening Day 2011 got off to a grand start on Thursday afternoon, and while there were some fairly impressive pitching performances, there were also some prodigious blasts as well.
In Cincinnati, the Reds and starter Edinson Volquez got off to a bit of a shaky start when Milwaukee Brewers hitters Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez started the game with back-to-back home runs, the first time that has happened on Opening Day since 1969.
Later in the game, in the bottom of the ninth, Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez hit a two-out, three-run homer, giving the Reds a walk-off 7-6 win over the Brewers. It was only the second time in Opening Day history that a Reds game ended with a walk-off home run, the other happening in 2005 when Joe Randa went deep to end the game for the Reds.
So, it got us thinking here at Bleacher Report (no comments about seeing smoke, please). There have been some pretty dramatic home runs on Opening Day, but which ones were the most dazzling?
Here is a list of 10 home runs on Opening Day history that started seasons off with a bang.
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10. Dwight Evans: Boston Red Sox, April 7, 1986
On April 7, 1986, the Boston Red Sox opened the season against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Right fielder Dwight Evans, the leadoff hitter for the Red Sox, stepped into the batters box against Tigers starter Jack Morris.
Evans smacked the first pitch he saw into the left field seats for a home run. With his homer, Evans set a major-league record by hitting the first pitch of the season for a home run, eclipsing the mark held by the Chicago Cubs' Bump Wills, who hit the second pitch for a home run on April 4, 1982.
9. Dmitri Young: Detroit Tigers, April 4, 2005
On Opening Day in 2005, Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers tied a major-league record by hitting three home runs in the first game of the season, a record shared with the Toronto Blue Jays' George Bell (1998) and the Chicago Cubs' Tuffy Rhodes (1994).
The first two of Dmitri's dingers came off Kansas City Royals starter Jose Lima, the third off Royals reliever Mike MacDougal.
Young would only hit 18 more home runs in the following 161 games for the Tigers.
8. Jason Heyward: Atlanta Braves, April 5, 2010
On April 5, 2010, 20-year-old right fielder Jason Heyward was making his major-league debut on Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Zambrano.
In the bottom of the first with two men on and one out, Heyward stepped up to the plate for his first major league at-bat. Heyward took a Zambrano offering and then deposited the ball an estimated 475 feet away for the first home run of his career, in his first at-bat.
Heyward repeated the feat on Thursday afternoon against the Washington Nationals, becoming only the second player in major league history to hit home runs in the first two Opening Days of his career. Kaz Matsui was the other player to accomplish the feat.
7. Emilio Bonifacio: Florida Marlins, April 6, 2009
While home runs on Opening Day are fairly common occurrences, an inside-the-park home run on Opening Day is a rarity.
On April 6, 2009, the Florida Marlins opened their season against the Washington Nationals. Leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio, facing relief pitcher Julian Tavarez in the bottom of the fourth with Camerin Maybin on second, hit a line drive that went over the head of center fielder Lastings Milledge.
By the time Milledge tracked the ball down and got it back to the relay man, Bonifacio was already racing home, giving him the first and only home run of his career and the first inside-the-park home run on Opening Day since Carl Yastrzemski hit one for the Boston Red Sox on April 10, 1968
6. Willie Mays: San Francisco Giants, April 6, 1971
On April 6, 1971, just one month shy of his 40th birthday, Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants hit a home run on Opening Day against the San Diego Padres.
While this home run on its own may not have been memorable, it started a streak for Mays during which he would homer in each of the first four games of the season, setting a modern major league record.
5. Ken Griffey Jr.: Seattle Mariners, April 10,1989
When Ken Griffey Jr. broke camp with the Seattle Mariners in 1989 as a 19-year-old rookie, everyone in Seattle was impressed by what they had seen during spring training, but few knew just exactly how special young Griffey really was.
On April 10, 1989, during Seattle's home opener against the Chicago White Sox, Griffey took the first pitch he saw from White Sox pitcher Eric King and launched it into the bleachers at the Kingdome, marking the first of his 630 career home runs.
Griffey went on to hit 16 home runs in his rookie season. Only Tony Conigliaro and Mel Ott would hit more homers as teenagers.
4. Babe Ruth: New York Yankees, April 18, 1923
On April 18, 1923, the New York Yankees opened their brand new, $2.5 million Yankee Stadium, a state-of-the-art facility at the time.
In front of 74,200 fans against the Boston Red Sox, Babe Ruth properly christened Yankee Stadium by belting the first home run ever there, propelling the Yankees to a 4-1 victory.
3. Don Drysdale: Los Angeles Dodgers, April 11, 1959
While many may remember Don Drysdale as one of the great pitchers in Los Angeles Dodgers history, few may know that he had a penchant for hitting home runs as well, with 29 career dingers, seven in 1965 alone.
However on April 11, 1959, on Opening Day at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Drysdale hit a home run in third inning off Cubs starter Bob Anderson.
It was the second Opening Day home run of Drysdale's career, setting a major league record for pitchers.
2. Ken Griffey Jr.: Seattle Mariners, April 6, 2009
Ken Griffey Jr. makes this list for the second time, and with very good reason.
On April 6, 2009, on Opening Day against the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome, Griffey connected for a home run in the fifth inning off Twins starter Francisco Liriano.
Not only was it the 612th home run of Griffey's career, but it tied him with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for most Opening Day home runs in history with eight.
Ironically, Griffey and his wife Melissa had adopted a newborn boy, Tevin, and Frank Robinson was named the child's godfather.
1. Hank Aaron: Atlanta Braves, April 4, 1974
On April 4, 1974, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Hank Aaron hit a home run on Opening Day off Reds starter Jack Billingham.
This historic home run tied Aaron with the great Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record of 714.
Just four days later, against the Los Angeles Dodgers and starter Al Downing, Aaron would break Ruth's record.