The four players to homer each of the last 2 opening days

Four players have homered in their team’s first game in both 2011 and 2012:

J.P. Arencibia made the most of his homers, especially with that 16th-inning 3-run job last night.

Going back to 1918, here are the guys with the most Opening Day homers:

Scott Rolen is the active leader, with Adam Dunn right behind him.


The four players to homer each of the last 2 opening days — 54 Comments

  1. Now if Adam Dunn only didn’t have to bat for the rest of the season! I had no idea he was such a productive opening day batter.

    Surprising that George Bell didn’t slip on to the bottom of the list what with his three opening day home runs in KC in 1988 off of Saberhagen.

    How many players have ever hit three opening day homers?

      • I think what threw me off was the phrase “the guys with the most Opening Day homers:”. An interesting list ….

        • According to the announcer, just a few moments ago Adam Dunn tied Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey, Jr. for the most opening day home runs with 8.

          And I knew that before he even said it because of this site.

          How cool is that.

          • John Autin did the exact same thing to me just a few minutes ago on a comment on the Papa Grande post.

            Like I told him there: great minds think alike!

          • I noticed over there!

            But don’t include me in the great baseball minds club. JA has forgotten more about baseball than I remember.

    • I am sure Jason Heyward for Atlanta would have been on these lists if he had homered Opening Day. But his claim to fame is that he homered on his first career AB (on Opening Day), and repeated the process the following year with his first AB on Opening Day. Is there any way to research homers on the first AB of Opening Day? Where would Jason fall in comparison?

  2. Actually Andy, your second list is of games in which Opening Day homers are hit, not a list of the homers themselves — your list will miss the extra homers hit in multiple-homer games (for example, Ken Griffey Jr. has eight O.D. homers.

    • I’d forgotten all about Dimitri’s opening day heroics but Tuffy Rhodes’ is one I’ll never forget. I would imagine that every fantasy league owner in the country probably considered adding him to their roster for a minute or two before returning to their senses.

    • Thanks for the search result, Andy. I have re-subscribed to the PI and will have to get the rust off my search skills.

      All three incidences are in relatively recent times and the Royals victimized twice. What a coincidence.

    • Andy, I’m not quite sure where to post this since there isn’t a general lobby or discussion forum, but, as a newcomer to HHS, the interface for the blog is great.

      The threading of replies makes it so much easier to follow conversations than last year’s format over at the old place. Kudos to all here at HHS!

      Plus, the top commenters list and Recent Comments sidebar are a nice way to follow activity on the site.

  3. Seeing Hundley and Carter on the list got me thinking about how much catchers hitting might drop off as the season progresses so I checked the splits for a few recent catching icons- Bench, Carter, Simmons, Fisk, Piazza & Rodriguez. Rodriguez probably had the biggest difference between his first and second halves of the season- maybe because of catching in the Texas heat?- and Piazza showed a little as well but the other 4 put up pretty consistent numbers in both halves of the season for the most part. It’s hardly conclusive evidence but I did find it a little surprising that their power numbers didn’t decline as the season wore on.

    • 124 catchers have hit 183 homers on Opening Day, led by Hundley, Carter and Roy Campanella, who all have 5 O.D. home runs.

      I took the list of these 124 guys and ran their career home run totals. Who hit the most career homers among guys who hit an Opening Day homer as a catcher? Jimmie Foxx (534 career homers), who started 24 games (including Opening Day) at catcher in 1935, his age 27 year, after not having caught in the majors since he was 20. Foxx over his full career started 89 games at catcher.

      Two guys who hit O.D. homers as catchers hit only one other homer in their careers: Mike Tresh and John Sullivan. Among the 1,411 guys who have accumulated at least 3,000 career PAs after 1919, Tresh had one of the lowest career slugging percentages at .283 (only shortstops Hal Lanier, Dal Maxvill and Mark Belanger and catcher Bob Swift have had a lower career SLG, among those post-deadball era 3,000+ PA guys). John Sullivan had a relatively short MLB career, though he was a lefty-hitting alternative to Bill Freehan for the 1965 Tigers and to Jerry Grote for the 1967 Mets. Sullivan hit his Opening Day homer for the ’65 Tigers, where his manager that day was Bob Swift, one of the guys mentioned above as having a lower SLG than Mike Tresh.

      • Birtel,

        A lot to digest in your post. Thanks.

        Incredible in a way that Carter hit O.D. taters in four consecutive years(1977-80). Todd Hundley(1994-7) was the only other one on Andy’s list to do so.

        Orlando Cepeda’s first-game power spanned three decades(barely).

        Of the four current opening day HR streaks, which one is most likely to continue in 2013? Bautista?

        • One other player to homer in 4 straight OD games – Yogi Berra, 1955-58.

          This factoid is courtesy of Richard Chester who, if I interpreted his post correctly, was present for each of those games.

          • Doug, er, Richard

            Very nice catch on Yogi. And, of course he didn’t have enough first-game long balls to make it on to Andy’s list.

  4. Leaders in total HRs hit in Opening Day games (since 1918):

    8 – F.Robinson, Griffey Jr.
    7 – Ruth, Mays, Mathews, Dunn
    6 – Winfield, Rolen, G.Carter, Yaz, B.Robinson, Hebner, Bonds

    Mathews & Dunn are the only ones from the list who had two 2-HR ODs. Others who did that: Joe Torre, Pujols, Nady, Mondesi, JuanGon.

    • Dunn certainly is in elite company as a hitter when you consider the multi-homer Opening Day games!

      However, first-game hitting prowess likely correlates with absolutely nothing in terms of the rest of their season. It is merely a curiousity, and nothing else.

      An interesting discussion starter might be who is the most unlikely name on Andy’s list? Brooks Robinson? Dwight Evans?

      In an unrelated matter, John, I notive you have just cracked the 700 mark in comments made. :-)

      Your lead atop the top commenters board appears safe!

  5. Dunn does it again. He is Mr. Opening Day! He just moved up near the top of Andy’s list and ties for the most first-game home runs all-time. How about that.

    • Gotta love Dunn’s first 3 PAs of 2012: Walk … Strikeout … Home Run.

      Interesting that Ventura has Dunn batting 3rd. I like it. Just pretend that last year never happened.

    • Hindsight is 20/20, JA. If the Bombers go on to lose, I’d like to see what the NY ink-stained wretches will have to say about Girardi’s strategy.

      • Neil — I don’t expect you to remember my entire baseball belief system, especially after months away. But my hatred of the bases-filling IBB (especially early in the game) is practically a mantra by now … and it ain’t hindsight.

        Walking Sean Rodriguez is a gift. I’m well aware that Rodriguez hits lefties better than he does righties, and that Pena really struggles against lefties. It’s still flat-out stupid, and I’ll say that unto my dying day.

        There were men on 3rd and 2nd with 2 out. Rodriguez is neither especially dangerous nor especially patient. Even if there’s some reason not to go right after him, why on earth can’t you at least try to get him to chase a bad pitch, rather than just putting him on? His career BA with RISP is .182 — give him a chance and he’ll get himself out most of the time.

        Meanwhile, guess what situation Pena absolutely loves? Yep, bases loaded — ’cause he knows he won’t chase. That was Pena’s 9th granny in 96 ABs; he also has 24 sacks-full walks.

        • John – Absolutely true. I had forgotten about your abhorrence of the IBB!

          Do you think Joe Girardi had statistics like the ones you’ve mentioned at his disposal or did he just override themn in favor of a gut-fell?

          How on Earth did you know about Pena ramping it up with the bases drunk?

          • Neil – I feel certain that Joe had every piece of data that I have, and more. Perhaps he was looking at the batter-vs-pitcher data – Rodriguez was 6 for 21 with 1 HR, while Pena was just 4-35 with 4 walks and 19 Ks (but 2 HRs and a double). But those are still pretty small samples.

            I got the Pena bases-full split from B-R, natch:

            Before today, he had a .316 BA, .424 OBP and .663 SLG.

            Obviously, giving up a salami in the 1st isn’t devastating to a team as potent as the Yanks (as subsequent innings have shown). But it goes against both my traditional baseball training and my saberism to have your ace walk Sean Nobody Rodriguez in the first inning of Opening Day.

          • But Voomo you only have your tongue firmly planted in your cheek about Girardi with the benefit of having seen today’s Rays-Yanks 9th inning.

            Will the “Rivera-is-done” whispers start today?

          • Voomo @33 — Nah, this blog could never handle the clubhouse. Maybe it could be a bench blog, though.

          • Neil a.k.a. Agent Provocateur @34 – Can a rhetorical question about a whispering campaign set off a whispering campaign?

            (Of course, I only meant that rhetorically….)

          • Why? Would I have thought Girardi was a genius if the greatest relief pitcher of all time was able to get three outs?

            Load the bases with an intentional walk with two outs in the first inning of game one, with your ace pitching?

            Against a utility player with a career 87 ops+?

            Girardi would have managed that situation better if he had been in the clubhouse bathroom trying to manage the browns to the super bowl.

          • JA @37, you give me way too much credit. I would never stir the pot that is the NY baseball market, would I? :-)

            Voomo @38, I detect a little anti-Girardi venom in your posts. All kidding aside, is he really held in such low regard by the Yankees’ faithful?

          • Voomo-

            Thanks for the link to that great interview with Asmus. He’s been a favorite of mine going way back. I have never seen a catcher who was his equal at calling pitches, only Mike Matheny & Yadier Molina rivaled him at framing pitches and just a handful were as good at keeping the pitchers head in the game. I am firmly convinced that he took half a run off of a teams ERA when he was behind the plate and no amount of statistical evidence to the contrary will ever change that.

            His description of how much of a toil catching takes on your legs over the course of a season is why I was surprised not to find a bigger difference in the first & second half splits for catchers. Of course I only looked at 6 and they were all the best of their generation so maybe it would be more obvious with a larger, more representative sampling.

          • By the way, I’ve stopped into Reedy’s for a beer many times before or after a Tigers game. The guy who owned the place was who was driving the truck in which Martin was killed.

            Never did meet Billy however.

          • Voomo, echoing Hartvig @41, thanks for the link on Ausmus. I read the article that you linked.

            Voomo, I know the taboo on giving personal information out in a public place, but your “3000 miles from New York” has me thinking either Alaska or the mountain forests of California.

            Anyway, don’t reply to that, but I had you pegged for a Yankess watcher/fan living in metropolitan.

          • Voomo @45. Wow, so is this your alter-ego or the YouTube performer your alter-ego. :-)

            You are an astute baeball observer and commentator.

          • Neil, my alter ego is the person who goes to work, pays bills, and pretends to be a civilized person.

            The characters that i take on in performance and prose (almost ready to publish a book) are my actual personalities.

          • Bravo, Voomo! – if only CC or Mo had been as adept as you at wriggling out of peril! :)

  6. I was looking at Richie Hebner’s opening HR games and noticed he hit three of them specifically off Bob Gibson, one on April 5 ’73 and two on April 6 ’74. I haven’t finished my search of Andy’s links above, but this might be the most opening day HR by a batter against a specific pitcher in MLB history.

    Another something I found: On 4-9-63 against Houston, the SF Giants had three different Hall of Famers homer for them on Opening Day.

    No idea if this one is a record, but it seems unlikely any team had four HOF’ers homer on any specific day, let alone the first game of the season.

    • Besides the Giants of the Mays/McCovey/Cepeda era I would look first at the Reds of the early 70’s, the A’s & Yankees of the late 20’s/early 30’s and the Cards of the 40’s. Not only do all of those teams have at least 3 HOF offensive players, 3 also have HOF pitchers that were batting as well. I’m sure I’m overlooking some obvious teams but those were the first to spring to mind.

      Geez, how could I forget?!!? The Cochran/Greenberg/Gehringer Tigers of the 30’s!

      • Thanks for the hint, Hartvig. On 6/3/34 Goslin, Cochrane, Gehringer and Greenberg homered for the Tigers.

    • bstar, just off the top of my head, you are talking about off the same pitcher in different games.

      George Bell did it in the same game against Bret Saberhagen in 1988.

      But to do it against the same pitcher in different seasons is truly remarkable. Thanks.

      • Thanks Neil, and nice to meet you. I figured somebody out there may have equaled that, and I forgot to look at G Bell as an obvious possibility.

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