Historical Yankee Stats On Opening Day

It is sometimes fun to thumb through the baseball history books in hopes of finding some intriguing nugget of information that has been forgotten. Lately I have been doing this and with Opening Day upon us, my mind has been wandering to frequency scenarios of events that may have occurred on this glorious day. For example, I wondered whether it is more likely to see a no-hitter on Opening Day or a complete slate of games in which all teams fail to hit a home run. It turns out there has been only one no-hitter on Opening Day and several seasons where no team hit a home run. To my credit, there have only been four seasons since 1985 where all teams failed to hit a homer on Opening Day.

This “likelihood” idea led me down a rabbit hole that ended with me determining whether it is more likely that a Yankee player’s birthday falls on Opening Day or a Yankee pitcher hits a home run on Opening Day. In between I queried several other random variations of the above thought process and listed them below. Hopefully, if nothing else, these will help you with your prop bets.


What has happened more often on Opening Day:


A Yankee hitter hits two home runs OR a Yankee pitcher gives up two home runs?


This one is close. In the past, a few more Yankee pitchers have given up two home runs on Opening Day than Yankee hitters who have hit two dingers. To be exact, a Yankee pitcher has given up two homers on Opening Day nine times and a Yankee hitter has hit two home runs six times.


Yankee pitcher gives up two or more home runs – Has occurred 9 times
Yankee batter hits two or more home runs – Has occurred 6 times

Yankee Batters Who Have Hit 2+ Homeruns on Opening Day
Player Date Opposing Team Homeruns Hit
Joe Pepitone 4/9/1963 KCA 2
Roger Maris 4/19/1960 BOS 2
Mickey Mantle 4/17/1956 WSH 2
Russ Derry 4/17/1945 BOS 2
Samuel Byrd 4/12/1932 PHA 2
Babe Ruth 4/12/1932 PHA 2

A Yankee player steals two or more bases OR gets caught stealing two or more times?


To my surprise only one Yankee player in the organization’s long history has been caught stealing twice on Opening Day. The aforementioned happened to Reggie Jackson in 1978 against Texas.

The players who have stolen two or more bases on Opening Day are listed below. Rickey Henderson is the only Yankee to steal three. Shocking! It’s also interesting that two Yankees, Fritz Maisel and Jeff Sweeney, stole two bases on Opening Day in the same season.

Yankee player steals two or more bases – Has occurred 8 times
Yankee player caught stealing two or more times – Has occurred 1 time


Yankee Players Who Have Stolen 2+ Bases on Opening Day
Player Date Opposing Team Stolen Bases
Rickey Henderson 4/4/1989 MIN 3
Roberto Kelly 4/4/1989 MIN 2
Bob Meacham 4/8/1986 KCR 2
Bobby Murcer 4/6/1974 CLE 2
Roy White 4/7/1969 WSA 2
Hugh High 4/14/1915 WSH 2
Fritz Maisel 4/14/1914 PHA 2
Jeff Sweeney 4/14/1914 PHA 2

A Yankee pitcher throws a complete game shutout OR doesn’t make it through the first inning?


I assumed a shutout occurred more times than a pitcher failing to make it out of the first inning due to the fact the team’s “best” pitcher is typically on the mound for game one. This was an accurate estimate. A shutout has occurred ten times on Opening Day. Two Yankees, Mel Stottlemyre and Red Ruffing, have done it twice.

It seemed slightly amazing that a Yankee pitcher has never not reached inning two, or inning three for that matter. In fact, only three players in Yankee history have failed to get out of the third inning. In baseball history only twelve starting pitchers have pitched less than one inning in the opener. Congratulations Opening Day starters!

Complete game shutout by Yankee pitcher – Has occurred 10 times
Yankee starting pitcher goes less than one inning – Has never occurred

Yankee Pitchers Who Have Pitched a Shutout on Opening Day
Player Date Opposing Team
Mel Stottlemyre 4/10/1968 CAL
Mel Stottlemyre 4/10/1967 WSA
Vic Raschi 4/17/1951 BOS
Spud Chandler 4/16/1946 PHA
Red Ruffing 4/14/1942 WSH
Red Ruffing 4/20/1939 BOS
Rick Rhoden 4/5/1988 MIN
Don Larsen 4/15/1958 BOS
Hank Borowy 4/18/1944 BOS
Marius Russo 4/14/1941 WSH

A Yankee pitcher accrues seven or more strikeouts OR blows a save?


A Yankee pitcher has tallied seven or more strikeouts nine times on Opening Day with CC Sabathia doing it in back-to-back years (2011, 2012). This beats out pitchers who blew a save. Luckily this has only happened to the Bombers seven times in history. It even happened to the great Mariano Rivera when he blew a save on Opening Day in 2012.

An interesting piece of information I found when researching this scenario was that the Yankees have never had a pitcher strike out more than nine hitters in an opener. All of those great players, but never more than nine K’s. In all of major-league history, a pitcher has recorded more than eight strikeouts on Opening Day 118 times yet no Yankee is included on that list.

Yankee pitcher with seven or more strikeouts – Has occurred 9 times
Yankee pitcher blows a save – Has occurred 7 times

Yankee Pitchers Who Have Thrown 7+ Strikeouts on Opening Day
Player Date Opposing Team Strikeouts
Tim Leary 4/8/1991 DET 9
Roger Clemens 4/5/1999 OAK 8
David Cone 4/1/1997 SEA 8
Whitey Ford 4/13/1955 WSH 8
CC Sabathia 4/6/2012 TBR 7
CC Sabathia 3/31/2011 DET 7
Whitey Ford 4/16/1957 WSH 7
Lefty Gomez 4/12/1932 PHA 7
Red Ruffing 4/14/1931 BOS 7

A Yankee batter walked three or more times OR struck out three or more times?


Eduardo Nunez struck out three times on Opening Day three years ago and before that the last Yankee to do it was Ricky Ledee in 1999. Overall the three strikeout performance has happened four more times than the four walk performance. No Yankee has ever struck out four times on Opening Day and only one has walked four times.

Yankee batter strikes out three or more times – Has occurred 11 times
Yankee batter walks three or more times – Has occurred 7 times

Yankee Batters Who Have Walked 3+ Times on Opening Day
Player Date Opposing Team Walks
Jack Saltzgaver 4/12/1932 PHA 4
Bernie Williams 3/31/2003 TOR 3
Hank Bauer 4/13/1955 WSH 3
Johnny Lindell 4/18/1950 BOS 3
Gus Niarhos 4/19/1949 WSH 3
Hugh High 4/14/1915 WSH 3
Jimmy Walsh 4/14/1914 PHA 3

A Yankee player has his birthday OR a Yankee pitcher hits a home run?


We have come to the end of my self-imposed rabbit hole. This last one is truly a random thought where both scenarios have absolutely no correlation to one another. Only one pitcher for the Yankees has hit a home run on Opening Day. That man’s name is Allie Reynolds and he did in against Washington in 1948.

Edging out Allie in this “what happened most often” scenario is two Yankee players who have had their birthday land on Opening Day – Bob Watson in 1980 and Bernie Allen in 1972. For those wondering, there are no Yankee players on the active roster who will have their birthday Tuesday.

Yankee player has a birthday – Has occurred 8 times
Yankee pitcher hits a homerun – Has occurred 4 times


Lead photo: Jake Roth / USA Today Sports

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