You never know what will happen in a baseball game, especially on opening day, which for the Cleveland Indians will be July 24. I can tell you the temperature for an opening day in Cleveland has never hovered around the 90-degree mark, but it will this year.
Opening day details run together, but here are my top five.
I was too young for Bob Feller’s no-hitter in 1940 – the only opening day no hitter in history. He no-hit the Chicago White Sox to open the season and closed it by helping rush in a new manager after the Cleveland Crybabies, as they became known that year. About two years before he passed away, Feller gave me the play-by-play of the last three innings of the game, which included Ray Mack’s phenomenal play between first and second base for the final out.
Next up for me came the Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn trade, two days before the 1960 season opener. Colavito hit 42 homers while Kuenn batted .353. In a freezing Municipal Stadium, Colavito struck out four times and grounded into a double play as the Kuenn’s Detroit Tigers beat the Indians in extra innings.
Then came one of the iconic baseball moments in 1975, when Frank Robinson homered off George “Doc” Medich of the New York Yankees. Robinson, the first Black manager was also the designated hitter that day as he batting second. Robinson’s tenure was short-lived, lasting just more than two years with Cleveland.
Jacobs Field opened in 1994 to a full house, which included President Bill Clinton. The season ended with a work stoppage, but opening with one of the most remembered games in Cleveland history. Seattle’s Randy Johnson flirted with a no-hitter as Feller watched from the press box. Wayne Kirby drove in the winning run in extra innings to give the Indians a 4-3 victory.
My final top five game included Seattle, which was managed by Mike Hargrove in 2007. A snowstorm hit the stadium and “Grover” tried his best to get the umpires to call off the game, with Seattle winning. Hargrove played for the Indians from 1979 to 1985 and managed the Indians from 1991 to 1999.
I don’t know what this season will bring, but I do know we will see things we have never seen before. And remember, a pennant is a pennant and asterisks don’t apply.