This Date in Baseball
1974 — The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 11 innings before a crowd of 52,000 at Riverfront Stadium. In his first at-bat, Hank Aaron hit a three-run homer off Jack Billingham. It was his 714th, tying Babe Ruth’s career record. The Braves had considered keeping Aaron on the bench for the season-opening series in Cincinnati so he could attempt to tie the record four days later in Atlanta. But Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the Braves to put Aaron in the lineup for at least two of the three games.
1988 — George Bell became the first player to hit three home runs on opening day, leading the Toronto Blue Jays past the Kansas City Royals 5-3. Bell, bitter throughout spring training with his move to designated hitter, homered three times in that role off Bret Saberhagen.
1994 — Chicago’s Karl Rhodes hit three solo home runs off Dwight Gooden in a 12-8 loss to the New York Mets on opening day at Wrigley Field. Rhodes became the second player to homer three times in an opener.
1998 — Mark McGwire tied Willie Mays’ National League record by hitting a home run in each of his first four games of the season. McGwire launched a towering three-run shot in the sixth inning of an 8-6 victory over the San Diego Padres.
1999 — America’s pastime opened in Mexico for the first time. The Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs 8-2 in baseball’s first season opener away from the United States and Canada.
2001 — Hideo Nomo became the fourth pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in both leagues in Boston’s 3-0 victory over Baltimore. Nomo, who threw the first no-hitter in Colorado’s Coors Field on Sept. 17, 1996, for Los Angeles, walked three and struck out 11 in the first no-hitter in the 10-year history of Camden Yards.
2003 — Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs became the 18th player to hit 500 career homers, connecting for a solo shot in a 10-9 loss to Cincinnati.
2005 — Dmitri Young became the third player to hit three homers on opening day, and Jeremy Bonderman won as the youngest opening day starter in the major leagues since 1986 to lead Detroit over the Kansas City Royals 11-2.
2011 — Nelson Cruz of Texas became the third player in major league history to homer in the first four games of a season and the Rangers beat Seattle 6-4. Cruz joined Willie Mays (1971) and Mark McGwire (1998) as the only players to go deep in each of their first four games of a season.
2016 — Colorado’s Trevor Story became the first player to hit two home runs in his major league debut on opening day, and Colorado spoiled Zack Greinke’s initial start for Arizona with a 10-5 win. Greinke, who signed a $206.5 million, six-year contract with the Diamondbacks, had his worst outing in nearly four years, giving up seven runs — six in one inning. Story also became the first National League player to hit multiple home runs in his first game. Four had done it in the American League.