Ranking Fergie Jenkins' 11 career Opening Day starts:
11. April 8, 1975 (with Rangers) vs. Twins
Jenkins didn’t get out of the third inning in the only Opening Day clunker of his career, allowing six runs (five earned) on two walks and seven hits, including a three-run homer by Tony Oliva in the second — one batter before he was taken out of the game. Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven earned the 11-4 win.
10. April 8, 1969 (with Cubs) vs. Phillies
This start might have been a microcosm of the entire ill-fated Cubs season that year as Jenkins struck out nine and walked nobody to take a 5-2 lead through eight innings — before two singles and a Don Money homer leading off the ninth cost Jenkins the win and ended his work day. The Cubs eventually won 7-6 in 11 innings.
9. April 6, 1983 (with Cubs) vs. Expos
Two seasons into his return to the Cubs, Jenkins opened his final season in the majors with six scoreless innings before opening the seventh by allowing an Andre Dawson triple and Al Oliver home run, and exiting.
Until then, he had as many total bases at the plate (double) as he’d allowed from the mound (two singles). Expos All-Star Steve Rogers pitched a six-hitter for the 3-0 win.
8. April 7, 1970 (with Cubs) at Philadelphia
The first of three openers in which Jenkins’ teams were shut out, he nonetheless pitched seven impressive innings, allowing only two-out runs on a Denny Doyle triple in the third and Don Money double in the seventh. Chris Short shut out the Cubs on five hits to earn the 2-0 win for the Phils.
7. April 6, 1973 (with Cubs) vs. Expos:
On an unseasonably warm, 64-degree, sunny day at Wrigley Field, Jenkins struck out six, walked one and allowed just two runs on five hits in eight strong innings. Despite retiring the final 10 he faced, he was lifted for a pinch-hitter to lead off the bottom of the eighth, trailing 2-1.
The Cubs eventually rallied for two in the ninth to win, with pinch-runner Tony La Russa scoring the game-winner on a two-out, bases-loaded walk by Rick Monday.
6. April 15, 1972 (with Cubs) vs. Phillies
Against an awful team with a Hall of Fame pitcher on the brink of an exceptional, historic season, Jenkins drove in a run in the third and allowed only one run on a Greg Luzinski homer leading off the fourth but wound up with a no-decision when the bullpen gave up three in a 4-2 loss.
That opposing pitcher? Steve Carlton pitched eight innings for the first of 27 wins for the 59-win Phillies on the way to a Cy Young Award (with Jenkins finishing third in voting).
5. April 7, 1977 (with Red Sox) vs. Cleveland
In a matchup against 22-year-old Dennis Eckersley — a first-time All-Star that season and eventual Hall of Famer — Jenkins gave up just one earned run in 7 2/3 innings. But thanks to a Jim Rice error that led to an unearned run and a blown save by Bill Campbell, the Red Sox lost 5-4 in 11.
4. April 7, 1979 (with Rangers) at Detroit
Jenkins pitched around four errors by three teammates to twirl one of his three Opening Day complete games to beat Dave Rozema and the Tigers 8-2.
3. April 11, 1967 (with Cubs) vs. Phillies
With his mother visiting Wrigley Field for the first time, Jenkins pitched his first opener and turned in a complete game to beat Hall of Famer — and future U.S. Senator — Jim Bunning 4-2. Bunning and Jenkins finished in a tie for second in Cy Young voting that season, behind Mike McCormick of the Giants.
2. April 9, 1976 (with Red Sox) at Baltimore:
He didn’t get the win despite a complete-game gem against Hall of Fame pitcher/underwear model/eventual 1976 Cy Young winner Jim Palmer. Jenkins struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter in the three-hitter — in which the only run of the game scored on a Fred Lynn throwing error in the fourth inning (one batter after a Rick Burleson throwing error put the runner on base).
1. April 6, 1971 (with Cubs) vs. Cardinals
On a 40-degree day at Wrigley Field, the Cubs ace pitched 10 dazzling innings to outduel Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, striking out seven without a walk and earning a 2-1 victory when another Hall of Famer, Billy Williams, homered off Gibson with one out in the 10th to end it. It was the first of 24 wins during Fergie’s Cy Young season (Gibson finished fifth).