Opening Day for New York Yankees baseball is here folks so let’s take a look back at the best Opening Day performances of all-time.Happy days are here again! That’s right, the New York Yankees are returning to your television screens and not a moment too soon. We’ve survived an entire offseason without them and now we can’t handle that one day between spring training ending and the regular season beginning.
The hype is legitimate and today, the Yankees will be beginning their quest for their 28th World Series Championship at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida.
Opening Day is one that is rich in tradition for the New York Yankees. They boast a 63-51-1 record in their history on Opening Day but they’ve suffered on the road. When they open on the road, the Yankees are a measly 28-33 in their history.
None of that matters right now. Currently, the focus is all on the future for the Yankees and the impending Opening Day. We’ve all got our caps ready, jerseys neatly pressed and lucky gloves at the ready.
In short, we’re ready for baseball. Opening Day can be a spectacular holiday and great things have happened. Here are five of the best individual performances on Opening Day for the New York Yankees.
5. Danny Tartabull: April 26, 1995
Right fielder Danny Tartabull had himself a great game on Opening Day in 1995. The importance wasn’t necessarily focused on the performance but what that performance meant.
After no baseball in 1994, the beginning of the 1995 season was incredibly important. Fans needed to remember what they love about the game of baseball and welcome it back with open arms.
Luckily, the Yankees had Tartabull that day to carry them to victory. Tartabull went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in the game, including a solo shot. He also earned five total bases and two walks in the contest. The Yankees emerged victorious over the Texas Rangers with a final score of 8-6.
And just like that, baseball was back. It was the resurgence of the sport and Tartabull reminded every fan why they this sport is so important. Welcome back, baseball! Now you have to deal with Danny Tartabull!
4. Hideki Matsui: April 2, 2005
Matsui had some excellent performances over his career. However, his opening game at the stadium cannot be included in this list, seeing as how it was not Opening Day.
This performance, however, showed just how calm, collected and dominant Matsui actually was. He drove them to victory over the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
On this day, Matsui went 3-for-5 with a monster 2-run home run and three RBIs. In his third full season in the Bronx, Matsui continued to rake and ultimately prove his role on an already stacked Yankees squad.
Some days, we wish we had a Matsui on the team. He really brought life and meaning to the phrase, “speak softly and carry a big stick,” for the Yankees. Matsui has had memorable moments in the Bronx and I think it’s safe to say that any list of great performances should have Matsui listed up towards the top.
3. Ron Guidry: April 10, 1980
Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry himself makes the list for his stellar pitching performance to start off the 1980 season. Two years after securing his first (and only) Cy Young Award in the American League, Guidry threw an impressive nine innings in his first outing of the year.
Guidry allowed two hits in his scoreless outing before the Yankees lost on a bases-loaded wild pitch from the hand of legendary reliever Goose Gossage. Despite the loss, Guidry still went 17-10 with a 3.56 ERA to finish out the 1980 season.
While only one no-hitter has been thrown in Opening Day history (Cleveland Indians Bob Feller in 1940), Guidry’s performance was just as good. Shutting down a loaded Texas Rangers lineup, he struck out four and ultimately gave the Yankees the best chance to win.
While Guidry is known for many things, especially his 18 strikeouts against the California Angels, fans often forget about this performance. It may not have resulted in a win but he was able to give fans hope for the upcoming season from their ace.
2. Babe Ruth: April 18, 1932
If there was ever a Yankees list without Babe Ruth on it, would it really be a Yankees list? The answer is no, so here’s one of Ruth’s finest moments as a Yankee on Opening Day.
Ruth’s 3-for-5 performance occurred when he was a ripe 37 years old and gave fans so much hope for the upcoming season. His stellar performance also came with five RBIs and two home runs.
While we didn’t get to see the action, history still lives on through the internet. However, we don’t know for sure if he called his shots but we can only guess in regards to that.
Babe Ruth is one of the most prolific Yankee players of all time and there’s no doubt that he would be on the list. If he existed during this era, baseball would be a whole lot different.
1. Mel Stottlemyre Sr. April 10, 1967
Mel Stottlemyre Sr. played for the New York Yankees for 11-year sand returned during the late 1990’s to coach for a while. Basically, this guy is the equivalent of that guy who graduates yet just can’t seem to leave high school behind.
In 1967, Stottlemyre opened the season for the Yankees with an impressive two-hit gem against the Washington Senators. He struck out six en route to an 8-0 victory for the Yankees.
While giving up two hits in a complete game is pretty great, what’s even more impressive is he came out and did it again that next year. Opening Day in 1968 featured another complete game shutout for Stottlemyre, who gave up four hits and struck out six against the California Angels.
In those two seasons, Stottlemyre averaged a 2.71 ERA and compiled a 36-27 record for the Yankees. Then he went on to coach the Yankees pitchers to a dynasty of World Series championships.
He only won one as a player but he certainly collected his share when the coaching opportunity rolled around.
So that’s it. The Yankees are one day away from some quality, meaningful baseball and we’re excited to see what is going to happen on Opening Day.
Maybe Matt Holliday will go 5-for-5 with five home runs. Maybe Aaron Judge will play the best defensive game of his life and make a Web gem every inning. Maybe Masahiro Tanaka will throw the second no-hitter in baseball history.
Whatever happens, we’re so ready for Opening Day. Watch and see who makes history for the New York Yankees.