Opening Day

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

Today should've been the 108th opener at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox as they were to host the Chicago White Sox to begin their home schedule.

But as we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that as well as the rest of the world. 

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There's still hope that they'll be baseball at Fenway in 2020, but on the day the gates were supposed to open and signal the unofficial start of spring in Boston, let's look back at a few of the Red Sox's most memorable individual performances with some Opening Day Dreaming Delivered by Coors Light.

April 20, 1912

The Red Sox christened Fenway Park by beating their rivals from New York, then known as the Highlanders, 7-6 in 11 innings before 24,000, including Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, grandfather of future president John F. Kennedy, and the Royal Rooters.

Tris Speaker (pictured, 3-for-6, two RBI, game-winning single) and Steve Yerkes (5-for-7) were your hitting heroes for a team that would go on to win the World Series. 

April 12, 1916

A left-hander named Babe Ruth held the Philadelphia A's to one unearned run on four hits and strikes out six in 8 1/3 innings. He went 0-for-2 batting ninth, proving he didn't have much of a future as a hitter. The '16 Sox would go on to win the World Series. 

April 6, 1973

On a day that featured the debut of the designated hitter in the American League, catcher Carlton Fisk, coming off his rookie of the year season, got his second year off to a booming start with three hits, including a two-run homer of Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre, and six RBI as the Sox spotted their archrivals a three-run lead and roll, 15-5.

(Now, if we could just forget Fisk's three-run, eighth-inning homer for the White Sox in a 5-3 Red Sox loss in the Fenway opener in '81 after Boston let him switch Sox as a free agent that winter.) 

April 10, 1998

Mo Vaughn hit a walk-off grand slam to cap the Red Sox' rally from a five-run deficit off a Mariners bullpen that featured ex-Sox relievers Tony Fossas and Heathcliff Slocumb and future Sox reliever Mike Timlin.

Those that stuck around Fenway when it was 7-2 to start the ninth headed home happy after an 8-7 win on Opening Day. The Sox would go on to make the playoffs at 92-70 but were eliminated in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. 

April 1, 2002

Tony Clark, the future head of the MLB Players Association, was a Red Sox first baseman for 90 games in 2002. In the first of those, he went 3-for-5 with a home run and drove in three runs.

The Sox needed all of them in a wild 12-11 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Clark would help the Sox out even more two years later when, as a Yankee, his ground-rule double in the ninth kept Ruben Sierra from scoring from first and ending ALCS Game 5 and with it, the Sox' World Series hopes.

April 11, 2005 

In addition to being memorable for the pregame ring ceremony and banner raising that was 86 years in the making (and for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera being cheered and Alex Rodriguez, pictured, jeered by the Fenway fans for their roles in the Sox' 2004 pennant), the Sox got a strong pitching performance from Tim Wakefield in an 8-1 thumping of the Yankees.

Veterans of '04 Wakefield (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 SOs), Trot Nixon (2-for-3, two RBI) and Doug Mirabelli (two-run homer) started '05 off right.

April 8, 2008

The Sox home opener in 2008 was another banner-raising day that included a tearful Bill Buckner emerging from the Green Monster to a standing ovation to throw out the first pitch.

After the pregame festivities, the Sox rolled to a 5-0 shutout over the Detroit Tigers. Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-3 with two RBI and Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. 

April 7, 2009

Josh Beckett held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run on two hits and struck out 10 as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3.

Beckett would go on to win 17 games and the Sox racked up 95 victories that season before being swept by the Angels in the ALDS.

April 8, 2013

Clay Buchholz got another championship season off to a great start as he shut out the Baltimore Orioles for seven innings on three hits.

Daniel Nava's three-run homer provided the offense in a 3-1 victory.

April 13, 2015

Mookie Betts showed off his future MVP form early in the 2015 season with a 2-for-4, four-RBI day that included a three-run homer in the second inning and two stolen bases in the first.

All of that came after he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run in the first with a leaping grab in front of the bullpen fence in right. The Sox went on to a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals but it didn't portend to good things as they finished 78-84 and last in the AL East. 

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A look back at the last 10 Opening Day ceremonial first pitches at Fenway Park

A look back at the last 10 Opening Day ceremonial first pitches at Fenway Park

Thursday was supposed to be a special day in Boston.

The Red Sox were scheduled to host the Chicago White Sox for Opening Day at Fenway Park. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we're going to have to wait a while longer before the first pitch of the 2020 season is thrown.

But that doesn't mean we can't take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most iconic Red Sox home opener moments. From Tom Brady to Carl Yastrzemski, a number of Boston legends have kicked off the baseball season in Boston with memorable first pitches.

Let's take a look back at the last 10 of them with some Opening Day Dreaming Delivered by Coors Light.

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2010 - Johnny Pesky

Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky began a new decade of Red Sox baseball by tossing out the first pitch at Fenway Park alongside Pedro Martinez. The ceremonies took place before Boston's opening game vs. the rival Yankees.

2011 - Carl Yastrzemski

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Yaz hadn't made many appearances at Fenway Park after retiring in 1984, but he returned to throw out the first pitch prior to the 2011 home opener against the Yankees.

2012 - Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield

Photo via AP

After many seasons as Red Sox mainstays, both Varitek and Wakefield decided to call it a career prior to the 2012 MLB season. The two Red Sox icons joined forces to celebrate their careers with the ceremonial first pitch in 2012.

2013 - Jimmy Fund patients

The 2013 Opening Day ceremonies were a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Red Sox' relationship with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. It is the longest-standing team/charity relationship in all of professional sports.

2014 - Mayor Marty Walsh

Former Boston mayor Thomas Menino assisted on the ceremonial first pitch for current mayor Marty Walsh, who threw some heat. They were joined by members of the 2004 World Series team.

2015 - Tom Brady

Photo via AP

Brady is no stranger to Red Sox Opening Day ceremonies. One of his appearances took place in 2015 as Boston celebrated the Patriots' unforgettable Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seattle Seahawks. We would have selected Malcolm Butler for this particular event, but Brady is always a safe choice.

2016 - Ty Law, Bobby Orr and Bill Russell

Photo via AP

The Red Sox hardly ever lack star power for their Opening Day ceremonies, and that much was evident in 2016. They had three Boston legends in the house as Hall of Famers Ty Law (Patriots), Bobby Orr (Bruins) and Bill Russell (Celtics) each threw out the first pitch.

2017 - Tom Brady

Perhaps one of the most memorable first pitches in Red Sox Opening Day history, Brady was joined by Rob Gronkowski and other former Patriots teammates to celebrate their Super Bowl LI win over the Atlanta Falcons.

2018 - U.S. women's hockey team, other medalists from Winter Olympics

Photo via AP

Four members of the gold medal-winning U.S. women's hockey team tossed first pitches alongside Paralympics silver medalist Jake Adicoff, luge silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and Paralympian Dan Cnossen, a gold medal-winning biathlete and former Navy SEAL who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan.

2019 - Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Stephon Gilmore

Photo via AP

After the Red Sox celebrated their 2018 World Series title with a ring ceremony, they were joined by members of a Patriots team that had earned its sixth Super Bowl title two months earlier vs. the Los Angeles Rams. Edelman earned Super Bowl MVP honors.

The Daily Thread from NBC Sports Boston for Thu., March 26

The Daily Thread from NBC Sports Boston for Thu., March 26

What are we kicking around in our virtual newsroom these days? The digital editors at NBCSportsBoston.com will compile the best from the daily e-mail exchanges amongst our on-air personalities, insiders and producers from both “Arbella Early Edition” and “Boston Sports Tonight” so you can get a sense of what’s on our minds.

Dave Cherubin, Producer (8:53 a.m.) -- Today was supposed to be Opening Day.  Do you miss the day?  The sport?  When MLB resumes what happens to their league? I think MLB will come out of this pandemic crisis on the losing end, more so than any other league.  I don't think people will miss the game and when it comes back they will face plenty of other competition for sports fans' attention.  If MLB is smart, they make sure they are the first league back playing games.  Get a jump on the competition for fans' attention and try to mitigate the loss of interest.

The only thing slower than the game of baseball is the league's investigation of the Red Sox.   Well, it's finally done.  Rob Manfred said last night : "We are done with the investigation. There’s been a delay in terms of producing a written report just because I frankly have not had time to turn to it. ... We will get a Boston report out before we resume play."  What punishment is in store for Red Sox?

Ideas MLB is considering if/when the season starts.
•7 inning games

•Increased double headers (up to 2 per week)

•Neutral-site World Series (warm city, dome city)

•Expanded playoff system

Seven-inning games stand out.  Players would never go for it.  The game needs be shortened or sped up.

Jeff Capotosto, Coordinating Producer (9:25 a.m.) -- I will miss Opening Day. What I won’t miss is Game 4 of the season when Ryan Weber battles Matt Shoemaker in a 4-hour game with 14 total pitchers.

A shortened MLB season is fine. Doubleheaders are fine. Seven-inning games are a joke. You can’t change the sport just to fit something in.

No idea why but my one memory of Opening Day was faking sick so I could watch Sox vs Jays in 1991 and Jack Clark hitting a HR in his Red Sox debut. Clark would proceed to go 1 for 457 for the remainder of his Red Sox career.

Trenni Kusnierek, host, Arbella Early Edition (9:35 a.m.) -- Am I the only one who misses Opening Day? I love it. It is the unofficial start of spring. The pomp and circumstance of each city. Real hope your team could find a way to win it all. I’d give anything to be on the T to Kenmore, grabbing a Starbucks, walking down Boylston towards Jersey Street with all the bars packed with day drinkers. Batting practice. Streaming the Brewers while watching the Sox. If I could stream FSWI today and watch old Brewers games, I would.

Rob Snyder, Producer (9:51 a.m.) -- As I put on my jacket, hat, and gloves to take my dog out this morning, I realized that no, I don’t miss Opening Day. It was too early anyway and I was never ready for it.

I agree with Cap and Cherubin and I think the combination of sports coming back (please come back) and those sports playing until possibly August or September will be a rude awakening for baseball. The players would never go for seven-inning games and doubleheaders but what if people stopped watching their sport? Are the players in tune enough to know how big of a problem that would be? I don’t think they do.

Michael Holley, host, Boston Sports Tonight (10:04 a.m) -- I’ve got more home opener memories than Opening Day ones. My favorite is 1998: Mo Vaughn hits a walkoff grand slam off Randy Johnson. Great drama. Think about some of the names from that era: Dan Duquette as your GM, Jimy Williams as your manager, Mo and Nomar as your 1-2 punch. The new guy: Pedro Martinez.

I’m nostalgic about it because baseball was intense then. It was the mix of local crazy over not winning since 1918 and the thought that the current Sox represented the best chance to win. It was daily drama and it was a blast.

As for the sport now, I’m all for doubleheaders and even starting the season with the All-Star Game. I don’t want to start runners on second base in extra innings. I don’t want seven-inning games. A 100-game season is just fine with me.

Gary Tanguay, host, Arbella Early Edition (12:35 p.m.) -- I hate Opening Day. Overrated crap. Covering it sucks. Cold, drunk fans, one stupid game that has become a hallmark card for the plus 55 demo.

Tom Giles, host, Boston Sports Tonight (12:43 p.m.) -- I don't necessarily agree but I love the passion, Tanger.

Seriously though, April baseball is mostly miserable so the fact that they keep moving up the start date is dumb.  I agree that weather plays as much of a role in this as anything else.

Trenni Kusnierek, host, Arbella Early Edition (1:25 p.m.) -- Pssst. Gary ...you are the 55+ demo.