Even the greats get a special feeling on Opening Day.
It's the one time of the regular season when every team truly does start out equal. It's the first leg in a 162-game marathon that determines who advances to the postseason.
It is, the late Joe DiMaggio said, "like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen."
And now that Opening Day 2010 has arrived, take a look at 10 great Opening Day moments.
A spring storm covered the Polo Grounds in snow, forcing the grounds crew to spend the morning moving the snow into piles along the left-field line. With the New York Giants enjoying a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning, the fans' attention span wandered. They began throwing snowballs at the Philadelphia Phillies. When one of the snowballs hit Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem, he ordered a forfeit because the Giants allowed their fans to get out of control.
Walter Johnson made the first of his 14 Opening Day starts memorable, outdueling Eddie Rommel in the Washington Senators' 1-0, 15-inning victory against the Philadelphia A's. It was also the first of nine Opening Day shutouts that Johnson pitched. He easily could have also had a no-hitter, but outfielder Doc Gessler tripped over a fan while chasing a fly ball off the bat of Frank "Home Run" Baker.
Ted Williams played in the first of the 14 Opening Day games of his career and began what was a 14-game Opening Day hitting streak. The opposition was the Yankees, and their first baseman, Lou Gehrig, was playing in the 2,123rd game of his consecutive game streak, having easily bettered the previous record of 1,307 held by Everett Scott. The streak would last seven more games and 10 more days -- until April 30 -- allowing him to expand the record to 2,130. It wasn't until Sept. 6, 1995, that Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles was able to break the streak.
Bob Feller, at the age of 21 and coming off a 24-victory season, ignored the 40-degree temperature and wind in Chicago to no-hit the White Sox in the only Opening Day no-hitter in baseball history. The Cleveland right-hander gave up five walks and struck out eight in the April 16 game that included a ninth-inning challenge. With a 2-2 count, Luke Appling, a master at fouling off pitches, fouled off four before Feller went wide of home plate with two offerings and walked him. Taft Wright then grounded out to end the game, Ray Mack ranging to his left, knocking down the ball and flipping to first just ahead of Wright.
Jackie Robinson played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their opener at Ebbets Field against the Boston Braves, becoming the first African-American to play in the big leagues. For the statistically minded, Robinson was 0-for-3 but had 11 total chances without an error. And he did reach base on an error in the seventh inning by Braves first baseman Earl Torgeson and eventually scored the go-ahead run in the Dodgers' 5-3 victory. The 28-year-old Robinson went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year (an award now named after him) and two years later was the NL MVP.
Baseball moved west of the Mississippi with the New York Giants landing in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Dodgers showing up in Los Angeles. The two teams opened the season with back-to-back home series. In the opener, at Seals Stadium in San Francisco, Ruben Gomez pitched the Giants to an 8-0, six-hit victory. Willie Mays went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, and Dodgers right-hander Don Drysdale was a fourth-inning knockout victim, giving up six runs, five earned, on five hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. The first West Coast game drew a paid crowd of 23,448.
Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves opened the season on April 4 in Cincinnati by connecting against Reds right-hander Jack Billingham in the first inning for the 714th home run of his career, equaling the career record held by Babe Ruth. It was four days later, in Atlanta, when Aaron connected off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing to break Ruth's record. Braves reliever Tom House, sitting in the bullpen at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, caught the ball. Aaron was 0-for-5 after hitting the home run in Cincinnati and sat out the second game of the three-game series. He then walked in his first plate appearance of the game in Atlanta and homered in the fourth inning.
Tom Seaver, who wound up with a record 16 Opening Day starts, returned to the Mets after a five-year absence and made his 14th Opening Day start, equaling Walter Johnson's record. The Mets rallied for a 2-0 victory against Philadelphia, but Seaver had a no-decision. He worked six shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five. Seaver made 11 Opening Day starts for the Mets, three for Cincinnati and his final two came for the Chicago White Sox in 1984 and 1985.
Jack Morris pitched the Detroit Tigers to a victory in Minnesota, allowing five hits and a run in seven innings. He also struck out eight in the start to what was a remarkable season for the Tigers. Detroit spent all 180 days of the season in first place, opening the season by winning seven in a row and then going 35-5, the best 40-game start ever. And Morris followed up that opener four days later -- April 7 -- with a no-hitter at Chicago, the earliest in terms of the calendar a pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter. Morris walked six and struck out eight.
President Barack Obama will throw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals, marking the 100th anniversary of President William Howard Taft's becoming the first president to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. President Obama becomes the 13th president to handle the honor. Obama throws left-handed. Harry Truman had both sides covered in 1950, throwing out the first pitch twice -- once left-handed and once right-handed. The president has thrown out the first pitch in Washington 50 times, including this year. But remember, the nation's capital was without baseball from 1972, when the Senators moved to Texas, to 2005, when the Nationals came into being.