1956 April

7th  In an exhibition match, the Detroit Tigers are outhit but down Houston (Texas League), 10-1, as Al Kaline hits two grand slams.

Call it the lemonfruit league. Jim Lemon of the Washington Senators matches Kaline of the Tigers with 8 RBIs in a 16-12 win over the Reds in grapefruit league play. He gets walked his first three times up, then hits a double, triple and grand slam.

9th  The Braves trade 1B George Crowe to the Redlegs for OF Bob “Hurricane” Hazle and righthander Corky Valentine.

10th  Why don’t these count? Mel Parnell pitches a 4-hitter in Greenville, SC as his Red Sox kick the Phillies, 21-1.

16th  The Athletics purchase OF Johnny Groth from the Senators. The A’s also trade Lee Wheat and Tom Saffel plus cash to the Dodgers for Tim Thompson. Neither will play in Brooklyn, while Thompson will have a backup role in Kansas City.

17th  President Eisenhower throws out the first ball in Washington—actually two balls, both replicas of Spalding’s 1876 ball, and the Yanks and Senators each hit 3 HRs, the only time this has happened on Opening Day. Hitting LH, Mickey Mantle has 2 tape measure CF blasts over 500 feet off Camilo Pascual, as the Yanks win easily, 10–4. Berra is 4-for-4 with a double and homer and 5 RBIs to ease the way for winner Don Larsen. Camilo Pascual takes the loss. Karl Olson has two homers for Washington, the only time in history a Senator has gone deep twice on opening day, and rookie Dick Tettelbach hits another, his only major league round tripper. All but Mantle take advantage of the new shortened dimensions of Griffith Stadium. For the 3rd consecutive opener, President Dwight D. Eisenhower throws out the first ball and stays for 9 innings.

Oops. When fans are directed to stand for the National Anthem at Ebbets Field, there is a long silence before singer Everett McCooey asks over the loud speaker, “who’s going to raise the flag?” The flag and the championship flag are then hoisted. It is better than the Opener in 1913 at Ebbets Field when everyone forgot to bring a flag. The Dodgers then lose to the Phils, 8-6. Jim Gilliam has an inside-the-park homer for the Brooks, the last on opening day this century in the NL.

Despite 2 HRs by Dale Long, Pittsburgh loses to New York 4–3 when Willie Mays scores from 2B in the 8th inning on Daryl Spencer’s groundout to 2B. Bob Friend loses to Johnny Antonelli, who also clubs a HR. With the Dodgers opening in Brooklyn, this is the last time till 2013 that two teams open in New York on the same day.

Frank Robinson makes his ML debut with a double, off Vinegar Bend Mizell, in his first at bat. But the Cards beat the Reds, 4–2, when Musial hits a 2-out, 2-run 9th inning homer.

At Milwaukee, Lew Burdette shuts out the Cubs, 6-0, and gets help from Hank Aaron and Joe Adcock, who hit homers.

At Fenway, Ted Williams crosses up the “Williams Shift” by rapping 2 doubles to left and a single to CF to lead the Red Sox to an 8–1 win over the Orioles. Piersall also has 3 hits. Frank Sullivan is the winner allowing 8 hits and an unearned run and helping the offense with an unusual DP for an RBI. With the bases loaded in the 3rd, Sullivan flies to RF with Piersall scoring from 3B and Sammy White thrown out at 2B by RF Dave Philley. The pitcher hits into a DP, gets an RBI, and has no time at bat.

The White Sox, losers of their last 10 exhibition games, edge the visiting Indians, 2-1, on Bob Lemon’s bases-loaded walk. Jim Busby, traded by the Sox over the winter, accounts for the only Tribe tally with a home run.

Gus Zernial hits a pinch double to drive in 2 runs and spoil the one-man effort of Detroit’s Frank Lary. The A’s win, 2–1. Lary hurls a 6-hitter and accounts for the only run with an inside-the-park HR off Alex Kellner as Harry Simpson misses a shoestring catch. It is Lary’s only ML homer.

19th  Despite the cold weather, a crowd of 12,214 watches the Dodgers nip the Phillies 5–4 in 10 innings at Jersey City in the first of the 7 NL games the Dodgers will play here in 1956. The Phils take the lead in the top of the 10th, 4–3, but Brooklyn scores twice to win. Roy Campanella sparks the rally with a double, his 1,000th hit.

At Crosley Field, the Reds spot the Cardinals an 8–3 lead, then tie the game with 5 runs in the 7th inning. Four of the runs come on Ray Jablonski’s grand slam. The Cards score a run in the 10th, but the Reds score twice in the bottom of the frame to win the slugfest, 10–9.

In a dramatic southpaw duel, Chicago’s Jack Harshman and Cleveland’s Herb Score each fire 2-hitters, with the White Sox prevailing, 1–0. The Sox score in the 7th without a hit. On June 21, Harshman will win a one-hitter battle, 1–0.

20th In the Yankees home opener, Mantle clouts a three run homer and Whitey Ford goes all the way, allowing 5 Red Sox hits. New York wins, 7–1.

21st  Art Ditmar of the Athletics limits the White Sox to one hit—an Earl Battey single in the 3rd—winning 15–1, as the A’s score a ML record 13 runs in the 2nd inning. Two errors by 2B Spook Jacobs allows Battey to score.

Mickey Mantle homers for the 2nd day in a row against the Red Sox, to lead New York to a 14–10 shoot out at the Stadium. Mantle’s is one of seven homers hit. Mantle, playing with his thigh wrapped tightly after straining a muscle yesterday, is 3-for-5. Pete Daley hits his first ML homer, off Jim Konstanty.

The Orioles buy 2B Billy Gardner from the Giants for $20,000. Gardner will be a starter for the Birds over the next four seasons.

22nd  Yankee P Don Larsen slams a HR with the bases loaded off Frank Sullivan of the Red Sox, as New York wins 13–6. Larsen is lifted in the 5th and the win goes to Bob Grim.

In Philadelphia, The Phils manage just 3 hits in the opener, but one is a 3-run homer by Ted Kazanski as Robin Roberts wins, 3-1, over Johnny Antonelli. New York takes the nightcap, 9-7, when Willie Mays belts a 9th inning 3-run homer. When the Phillies bat in the bottom of the 9th, fans start throwing bottles and cans on the field. RF Whitey Lockman calls time, and returns with a helmet. “”I wouldn’t mind getting hit by a regular bottle, but when they break off the tops and throw them at you, that’s too much,” he says later. Outside police are called in to stop the bottle tossers. Beer is not sold at Connie Mack Stadium, but fans can bring bottles and cans into the park.

After starting the fireworks with a single in the 6th, Musial climaxes the 8-run frame with a grand slam to pace the Cards to a 10–4 win over the Braves in the 1st of 2. Ray Crone coasts to a 12–5 Braves win in game 2 for the first place Braves.

23rd Rookie Don Drysdale makes his first ML start a dandy by striking out the side in the first inning. He strikes out 9 as Brooklyn beats the Phils, 6–1.

24th  AL umpire Frank Umont is the first to wear glasses in a regular season game, between Detroit and Kansas City. The former NFL tackle (New York Giants) still presents an intimidating appearance to most players and fans. Tuttle, Boone, and Bertoia rap homers as the Tigers win, 7–4. Boone and Bertoia’s homers come in the 8th inning against Bill Bradford, pitching his only ML inning.

25th  At Connie Mack Stadium, the Pirates score a pair of runs in the 7th and beat the Phillies, 6-5. Phils rookie Angelo LiPetri makes his ML debut by striking out the side in the 9th inning, matching the mark of Paul Giel two years ago.

26th In his 8th game for the Indians, Chico Carrasquel has a double and a grand slam and 7 RBIs to lead them to a 14-2 scalping of the Kansas City Athletics. Bobby Avila has a homer and 4 RBIs as Early Wynn (2-0) allows 4 hits in the victory.

27th At Yankee Stadium, Mantle hits a shot to dead center that hits the bleachers and rebounds back onto the playing field. Red Sox CF Jimmy Piersall plays the ball and fires to 3B to hold the hustling Mantle to a triple. Stengel charges out to argue that the ball is a home run and gets tossed for his efforts. The Sox win, 6–4.

Following a ruling by PCL president Leslie O’Connor that the stripes on Portland’s shirts did not distract batters, Sacramento players appear on the field with white polka dots on their shirts. Umpire Chris Pelekoudas disallows them saying they are sewn on.

28th  Redlegs rookie LF Frank Robinson hits the first HR of his 586 lifetime blasts, off Cubs Paul Minner in Crosley Field. The Cubs lose, 9–1 to Brooks Lawrence.

29th  For the 3rd time in his career, Phillies LF Del Ennis spoils a no-hitter, this time singling off the Giants Ray Monzant, who wins the one-hitter 8–1 anyway in the 2nd game of a doubleheader.

The Reds take a pair from the Cubs winning 5–4 and 8–4 behind Hersh Freeman and Art Fowler. Turk Lown and Sam Jones take the losses. Wally Post is most of the offense, hitting 2 home runs in each game and driving in 8 runs for the afternoon. The Reds sweep all 4 games with Chicago.

In an exhibition game at Jersey City, the Indians nip the Dodgers, 1–0, in 10 innings. Sal Maglie pitches 4 scoreless innings for the Tribe, and the Dodgers are so impressed they will acquire The Barber on May 15th. He’ll provide 13 wins, including a no-hitter for Brooklyn.