Curtain Rising: Opening Day Career Hitting Leaders

Since 1918, career leaders in Opening Day games:

Home Runs
8, Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey, Jr.
7, Adam Dunn, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth

RBI
22, Babe Ruth
19, Vlad Guerrero and Adam Dunn

Hits
31, Pete Rose
28, Carl Yastrzemski and Jeff Kent

Doubles
8, Todd Helton, Richie Hebner and Frank Thomas

Triples
3, Arky Vaughan, Kenny Lofton, Brett Butler, Charlie Grimm, Will Clark, Dixie Walker

Total Bases
54, Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth
51, Jeff Kent

Walks
19, Buddy Meyer, Rickey Henderson and Barry Bonds

Strikeouts
20, Rob Deer
19, Reggie Jackson

OBP (min. 11 Opening Day games played)
Harry Heilman .571
Ted Williams .550

SLG (min. 11 Opening Day games played)
Richie Hebner 1.042
Babe Ruth .931

OPS (min. 11 Opening Day games played)
Richie Hebner 1.542
Babe Ruth 1.467

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John Autin
Editor
9 years ago

Who took part in the most Opening Day wins?
– 15, Brooks Robinson
– 14, Willie Mays

The most losses?
– 15, Graig Nettles
– 14, Hank Aaron

John Autin
Editor
9 years ago

Most Opening Days with at least 1 SB?
– 8, Rickey
– 7, Wills
– 6, Morgan, Carew, Eric Young, and … Yaz!

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

Total SBs were:

11 – Henderson
8 – Wills, Young, Morgan
6 – Yaz, Carew

Doug
Doug
9 years ago

Andy will have to get an interview with Richie Hebner.

Ask him about outslugging the Babe on opening day.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  Doug

I lived about 30 miles from Pittsburgh in Hebner’s prime; he was a big star in that area back then.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

No, I was too young for radio broadcasts to have an effect on me; instead, my dad and I were listening to Reds’ radio broadcasts, as the Big Red Machine were my first favorite team. We were in Steubenville, Ohio. Where were you?

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

Steubenville is the birthplace of Dean Martin, Jimmy the Greek Snyder, and HOF’er Rollie Fingers.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  birtelcom

“Remember Bob Prince? Listening to him drove me up a wall.”

KDKA, 1020? What were the station’s call letters?

AlbaNate
AlbaNate
9 years ago

Wow, in addition to owning Bob Gibson, Richie Hebner apparently also owned opening day.

Ed
Ed
9 years ago
Reply to  AlbaNate

I’m shocked to see that Hebner has over 40 Offensive WAR. I would have never guessed that. Hebner never drove in or scored 100 runs, never made an all-star team, only one season with more than 140 base hits, and yet he has over 40 Offensive WAR. Definitely an underrated player.

John Autin
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  Ed

But an overrated gravedigger. 🙂

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago

Yogi Berra hit HRs in four successive opening days from 1955 to 1958. I saw the first one.

Doug
Editor
9 years ago

Here’s some leaders for a single opening day game.

Total Bases
13 – Dmitri Young (2005), Tuffy Rhodes (1994)
12 – George Bell (1988), Gary Gaetti (1982)
11 – J.P. Arencibia (2011), Xavier Nady (2008), John Mayberry (1980), Don Baylor (1973), Roger Maris (1960), Billy Herman (1936)

Note that 3 of those top 10 are Blue Jays. Also, 2 Cubs.

Arencibia has a personal streak on the line tomorrow, with 2 straight 2 homer games in a player’s first game of the season.

John Autin
Editor
9 years ago

Here’s something that’s only been done once on Opening Day in the searchable era:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET193704200.shtml

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

You mean Elden Auker beating Mel Harder? 🙂

John Autin
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  Doug

You know I was just dying to find another such matchup, right? Alas…. However, Elden Auker’s other 2 Opening Day appearances do have some interesting twists: – In 1934, Auker got the save in relief of starter Firpo Marberry. Auker only had 2 career saves, and Marberry of course is best known as one of the first relief aces. (Also in that game, Gee Walker had a triple, a SB and a CS — one of 3 such games known to exist on Opening Day.) – In 1941, Auker defeated Bobo Newsom on opening day. Does this give you any… Read more »

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Seems Auker really had Harder’s number.

If I didn’t miss any, including the 1937 O.D. game, when they started against each other, Auker was 7-2 with 1 ND, and Harder was 2-6 with 2 ND.

John Autin
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  Doug

In case anyone else is reading this and wondering about my original reference: Gee Walker had the only (searchable) Opening Day cycle.

Mark T.
Mark T.
9 years ago

Richie Hebner is the leader in Opening Day slugging and OPS? Wow, I never would have guessed that. That’s one of the reasons this site is so great, it’s always reminding me of random players like Hebner. Will the next post explore the theory that Richie Hebner and Richie Zisk were actually the same person?