Chicks Dig the Long Ball: Ranking 10 Most Dazzling Homers in Opening Day History

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IApril 1, 2011

Chicks Dig the Long Ball: Ranking 10 Most Dazzling Homers in Opening Day History

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    CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Ramon Hernandez #55 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting the game-winning home run in the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in the opening day game at Great American Ballpark on March 31, 2011 in Cincin
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    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.

    For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

10. Dwight Evans: Boston Red Sox, April 7, 1986

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    FLUSHING, NY - OCTOBER 25:  Dwight Evans #24 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the New York Mets during Game six of the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium on October 25, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets defeated the Red Sox 6-5 in ten innings. (Photo
    T.G. Higgins/Getty Images

    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

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    LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 7:  Designated hitter Dmitri Young #25 of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Washington Nationals during a Spring Training game on March 7, 2005 at Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. Washington won 6-5.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Ge
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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

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    ATLANTA - APRIL 5: Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves hits against the Chicago Cubs during Opening Day at Turner Field on April 5, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    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

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    MIAMI - APRIL 06:  Emilio Bonifacio #1 of the Florida Marlins scores on a base hit in the first inning against the Washington Nationals on opening day at Dolphin Stadium on April 6, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    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

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    photo credit euplaya5 via Photobucket
    photo credit euplaya5 via Photobucket

    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

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    SEATTLE - APRIL 19:  Ken Griffey Jr. #24 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Detroit Tigers during the game on April 19, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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

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    photo credit niallkennedy via Creative Commons license
    photo credit niallkennedy via Creative Commons license

    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

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    photo credit andycummings via Photobucket
    photo credit andycummings via Photobucket

    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

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 10:  Ken Griffey Jr #24 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics  during Opening Day at a Major League Baseball game on April 10, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Ima
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    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

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    photo credit mlbpix via Photobucket
    photo credit mlbpix via Photobucket

    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.

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