Reliving the Yankees’ 10 most spectacular Opening Day moments

Nestor Cortes throws in his last 2024 spring training game against the Braves on March 21, 2024.

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The New York Yankees’ Opening Day games have been the backdrop for numerous historic moments that have shaped the franchise’s legendary status. Let’s take a chronological journey through the top 10 most iconic Opening Day moments in Yankees history.

1923: The house that Babe Ruth built is inaugurated

On April 18, 1923, the pinstripes celebrated the opening of their new stadium with Babe Ruth hitting the first home run in what would be known as “The House that Ruth Built.” This monumental homer helped the Yankees secure a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox, marking a fitting inauguration for the iconic stadium.

The Yankees' legendary star Babe Ruth

1932: Babe Ruth’s Opening Day prowess

Babe Ruth showcased his legendary skill on Opening Day 1932, hammering two home runs and driving in five RBIs against the Philadelphia Athletics. This performance underscored Ruth’s enduring impact on the game and the Yankees’ lore.

1945: Russ Derry’s memorable day

Russ Derry etched his name into Yankees history on Opening Day 1945 by hitting two home runs, including a grand slam, in an 8-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Derry’s power-hitting display remains one of the most impactful Opening Day performances for the Bronx Bombers.

1960: Roger Maris makes his mark

In his pinstripes debut on April 19, 1960, Roger Maris went 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs, signaling the start of his storied career with the team. This performance against Boston heralded Maris’ significant contributions to the Yankees in the years to follow.

Teammates welcome Roger Maris to the Yankees dugout after he hit a home run vs. the Reds at Crosley Field at Game 2 of the 1961 World Series on October 7, 1961.
Yates Marin

1967: Mel Stottlemyre’s pitching masterpiece

Mel Stottlemyre dominated the Washington Senators with a complete-game, two-hit shutout on Opening Day 1967. His outstanding pitching set a high standard for Opening Day performances and showcased his importance to the team’s pitching staff.

1976: Yankee Stadium’s new era

The 1976 season opener marked the return of the Yankees to a newly renovated Yankee Stadium. This game symbolized the beginning of a resurgence for the Yankees, who would go on to capture their first American League pennant in 12 years.

1978: A hero’s return for Roger Maris

The 1978 Opening Day was memorable for the emotional return of Roger Maris to Yankee Stadium. Maris received a heartfelt welcome from the fans, highlighting his enduring legacy with the franchise.

1980: Ron Guidry’s dominant duel

Ron Guidry, known as “Louisiana Lightning,” delivered a pitching masterclass on Opening Day 1980, throwing nine innings of shutout ball against the Texas Rangers. Despite the Yankees eventually losing the game, Guidry’s performance remains a standout moment.

1996: The beginning of a dynasty

The snowy Opening Day of 1996 against the Kansas City Royals heralded the start of a new dynasty for the Yankees. This victory was a precursor to the team capturing their 23rd World Series title later that year.

2003: Hideki Matsui’s grand introduction

Hideki Matsui, known as “Godzilla,” announced his arrival to the Major Leagues with a grand slam on Opening Day 2003, endearing him to Yankees fans and marking the beginning of a fruitful tenure with the team.

As the Yankees gear up for their 2024 Opening Day in Houston, these iconic moments serve as a reminder of the franchise’s rich history and the excitement that each new season brings. May this year’s opener be the start of another memorable chapter in Yankees history.

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