1929 April

16th  The Cubs open at Wrigley Field before an estimated 50,000, the biggest Opening Day turnout they’ve ever had, and lose to the Pirates, 4–3. They are without the services of Gabby Hartnett, who sustained an arm injury on a throw to 2B in the second spring training game. He’ll catch just one game, in September.

St. Louis veteran Pete Alexander tosses a 5-hitter at the Reds and wins, 5–2. Red Lucas takes the loss.

Both the Yankees and Indians, the two major league teams with the innovative numbers on the backs of the players’ uniforms are scheduled to open today, but rain cancels the New York opener. Cleveland opens at home and hands new Tiger’s manager Bucky Harris his first loss, 5–4, in 10 innings. Cleveland rookie Earl Averill, no. 5, cracks an 0-2 pitch for a homer in his first at bat, off Earl Whitehill (Averill’s #3 will later be retired). The numberless Charlie Gehringer matches the rookie in the 3rdinning, hitting his off Cleveland’s Joe Shaute. The Indians will wear numbers only on their home uniforms. Averill is just the 2nd player to connect for a homer in his first at-bat: Luke Stuart was the first, in 1921. Averill will later go into the Hall of Fame, the first to homer in his first at bat.

17th  President Herbert Hoover throws out the first ball in Washington and then watches the Athletics win, 13–4. The previous day’s game, marking the home opening for Washington, was rained out.

Rogers Hornsby’s 9th career grand slam powers the Cubs to a 13-2 shellacking of the visiting Pirates. Hornsby is now tied with Babe Ruth for the ML career lead in grand slams. His slam comes off Fred Fussell in the 8th inning: The Rajah was booed in the 7th when he struck out with the sacks full.

Babe Ruth and actress Claire Hodgson are married at 5 a.m. to avoid crowds. The Yankee home opener with the Red Sox is again rained out so the wedding party continues uninterrupted.

18th After two cancellations of their season start—their first ever—the Yankees open against the Red Sox before 40,000 at the Stadium, winning, 7–3. Judge Landis presents diamond-studded watches to the New York players in honor of their championship season in 1928. New York Starter George Pipgras allows just 3 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but walks 9. Reliever Fred Heimach then pitches hitless ball to preserve the win. In his first at bat against Boston’s Red Ruffing, the newly wed Babe hits a HR and as he rounds 2nd base, he doffs his cap to his bride Claire in the stands. Gehrig adds a HR in the 6th, off Milt Gaston. For the first time, the Yanks have numbers on their uniforms, assigned according to the player’s spot in the lineup: Combs, 1, Koenig, 2, Ruth, 3, Gehrig, 4, Meusel, 5, Lazzeri, 6, Durocher, 7, Grabowski, 8. The win goes to Pipgras # 14, with Heimach #17 picking up the save.

The Cubs continue their power hitting against the Pirates, winning, 11-1. Charlie Grimm hits a grand slam in the 3rd inning.

The Braves win their home Opener against Brooklyn, 13–12. Bob Smith gives up 16 hits and 9 runs in 7 innings but comes away with a win.

For the first time in 15 years, the Giants dress at their hotel and taxi to the ball park where they hand the host Quakers an 11–9 loss. The twice-deferred opener unfolds before a frigid 6,000. Lefty O’Doul bangs a pair of homers for Philley, while Hurst and Larry Benton, in relief of winning pitcher Hubbell, add round trippers for New York. Benton’s comes in the Giants 6-run 9th, when the New Yorkers twice pull off successful double steals. Each time Phils catcher Virgil Davis fires the ball into CF.

19th The Giants bounce the Phils, 14–5, on 20 hits. Also hitting are Philley 1B Don Hurst and the Giants Harry Kelly, who was verbally riding Hurst from the bench. When separated, Hurst is ejected. Vet Carl Mays is the winning pitcher, running his winning streak to 13 games over the Phils. He’s never lost (1st win: May 13, 1924) and it is his final decision against the Quakers.

Against the host Browns, the White Sox tie the score in the 8th, then win in the 9th, 5–4, when Bill Cissell steals home.

20th In a 5-2 Phillies win over Brooklyn, Les Sweetland beans Del Bissonette who leaves the game. Bissonette will struggle as a result of the injury and his average will drop from last year’s .320 average to .281. He will have a series of 9 operations over the winter as a result of the beaning.

21st In Chicago before 45,000, the Cubs top the Cards, 4–0, with Guy Bush winning over Willie Mitchell. Hornsby is 4-for-4 with two doubles, but the Rajah will go 1-for-13 in his next three games.

Detroit P Earl Whitehill hits his first ML homer, off Browns reliever Herb Cobb, to help himself to a 16–9 win. Whitehill will hit 2 more homers this year, then just one more in his career. Harry Heilmann has 4 RBIs and rookie Dale Alexander, batting cleanup, hits his first ML homer, off reliever Chad Kimsey, and knocks in 4 runs. Alexander will have a marvelous rookie year, hitting 25 homers, batting .343, and knocking in 137 runs. He will have 135 RBIs in his second season: only Joe DiMaggio will bat in more runs in his first 2 years in the majors. Another home run note is struck by the light hitting Frank Sigafoos, who hits a ball into the bleachers, but it does not count as the umpire had called a balk on the pitcher (as noted by Bill Deane). By the rules of the day, the homer doesn’t count. It would have been the only homer Sigafoos hits in the majors. One plus on the St. Louis side is Beauty McGowan who has 3 doubles and 3 RBIs. Frank O’Rourke has 2 doubles and a homer for the Brownies.

About 40,000 fans brave a cold rain in New York to watch the Yankees in their first Sunday game. The A’s Jimmy Dykes has a 2-run homer to help Lefty Grove beat the Yanks, 7-4.

22nd It’s the Cubs turn as Pat Malone shuts out the Cardinals, 3–0, beating Pete Alexander.

Helped by a balk call, the Tigers score a run in the first inning, and it is the only score in a 1–0 win over the Browns. George Uhle is the winner. There are two balks called in the game, making a total of 6 called in the 3-games series in St. Louis.

23rd The Yankees become the first team to wear numbers on their road uniforms when they invade Fenway Park. The Red Sox are unimpressed and win, 4–2.

24th Harry Heilmann has three hits, including a homer and drives in 3 as Detroit edges the visiting Indians, 7-6. Rice saves the game with a sliding catch in the 9th inning. Charlie Jamieson has a pair of doubles and, for the second day in a row, a stolen base. It will go to Charlie’s head and he will get thrown out the next 13 times he tries to steal this season. This is a slightly lower rate (in fact, the worst percentage of anyone with 2 steal in history) than last year when he had three steals and was thrown out 12 times.

26th Backed by a 20-hit attack, Wes Ferrell (3-0) beats Detroit, 11-5. The Indians score 6 runs in the top of the 9th to put the game away.

27th At Brooklyn, Brooklyn relief pitcher Clise Dudley becomes the second man to hit a HR on the first ML pitch he sees, one thrown by Claude Willoughby. Dudley will hit two more homers in his 4 ML years. He is more than matched by Chuck Klein, with a single, double and homer from the 7th spot, who leads the Phils to an 8–3 win.

In Philadelphia, Al Simmons hits a 8th inning grand slam off George Pipgras to give the A’s a short-lived 7-7 tie with the Yankees. New York plates a pair in the 9th to win, 9-7.

28th The Red Sox play the first Sunday game in Boston history, at Braves Field, losing to the A’s 7–3. Protests by a few members of a nearby church are the reason for the shift from Fenway. The Braves, rained out of their scheduled Sunday game on April 21, will play their first Sunday home game on May 5. Starter Red Ruffing gives up 4 runs in the 6th, including consecutive homers by Miller and Dykes. When Milt Gaston takes over in the 7th he pitches to his brother Alex, the 2nd brother battery in AL history: Tommy and Homer Thompson, one game in 1912 for the Yankees, were the first.

At Navin Field, the Browns double the Tigers, 6-3, but Dale Alexander is 1-for-2 for the Bengals to set a rookie mark of hitting in 13 straight games from the beginning of a career. This will be topped in 1941.

30th The visiting Braves score 8 runs in the 7th and hold on to trip the Phillies, 14-12. Bernie Friberg has 4 hits and drives in 6 runs for Philadelphia. Boston reliever Art Delaney hits a homer and drives in 2 runs to earn the decision.

With the help of a triple play the White Sox turn back the Indians, 8-4. With runners on 1B and 2B, the Sox get the first two outs on   6-3-2-5 play. Third baseman Willie Kamm, hides the ball and when Charlie Jamieson, who reached 3B on the play, steps off the bag, Kamm nails him to complete the tri-killing (as noted by Bill Deane).