1st The Seattle Pilots trade minor league OF Lou Piniella to the Royals for OF Steve Whitaker and P John Gelnar.
3rd Donn Clendenon ends his retirement and joins the Expos, signing for $50,000 per year.
The Phils send 1B Bill White back to the Cards for infielders Jim Hutto and Jerry Buchek.
7th Bill Singer of the Dodgers is credited with the first official save, as Los Angeles defeats Cincinnati 3–2, scoring once in the 2nd and twice in the 3rd off Gary Nolan. All the Cincy scoring came in the opening inning when Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan hit Don Drysdale’s first two pitches for home runs. They’ll hit leadoff homers again in August.
The Expos get SS Bobby Wine from the Phils as a replacement for P Larry Jackson, who retired instead of going to Montreal in the expansion draft. Wine will play regularly for 3 years.
At RFK Stadium, 45,000 fans, including President Richard Nixon, look on as Ted Williams makes his managerial debut for the Senators. The Yanks spoil it, winning 8–4, pinning the loss on Camilo Pascual, and routing him in the third inning with back-to-back homers by Jerry Kinney and Bobby Murcer. Playing for the old Senators, Pascual lost the ’56 opener to New York, and the ’57 opener to the Orioles. He won the 1960 Opener against the Red Sox and, for the new Washington Senators, lost last year’s Opener to the Twins. Mel Stottlemyre wins his 3rd straight opening complete game, despite giving up 14 hits. Stottlemyre will notch 5 wins this month, just the 2nd pitcher (Bob Lemon, 1955) in history to record 5 wins in April. Vida Blue, in 1972, will be the first to win 6.
8th Expansion teams Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, and Seattle Pilots make things look easy by winning their first regular-season games. The Expos win by scoring 11 runs against the Mets to win 11–10. Pitcher Dan McGinn cracks the Expos first (and only) homer, off Tom Seaver, to help keep the Mets winless for Openers. The host Royals edge the Twins in 12 innings, 4–3. Seattle wins, 4–3, at Anaheim. Hegan hits the first Pilots’ HR, a 1st inning solo shot off McGlothlin.
In the Padres opening night 2–1 victory over Houston, the leadoff batter at Jack Murphy Stadium is Astro outfielder Jesus Alou. Brother Matty, with the Pirates, was the first batter up at the opening of Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium on April 12, 1966, and Brother Felipe, playing for Atlanta, was the first batter up when Busch Stadium opened in St. Louis a month later.
In Atlanta, Phil Niekro strikes out 7 as Atlanta drops the Giants, 10-2. Felix Millan belts a 6th inning grand slam, off Gaylord Perry.
In a move to resolve the aborted Staub–Clendenon trade, Montreal keeps Clendenon and completes the deal by sending pitchers Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn, and an estimated $100,000 to compensate the Astros. Montreal will finally peddle Clendenon on the trade deadline date.
After a long recovery following an August, 1967 beaning, Tony Conigliaro starts his first game for Boston. His dramatic 2-run 10th-inning HR gives the Red Sox a brief lead, and his 12th-inning run wins it, 5–4 over the O’s at Baltimore.
St. Louis drops their home opener to the Pirates, 6–2, in 14 innings when reliever Mel Nelson gives up 5 straight hits and 4 runs. Bob Gibson goes 9 innings and strikes out 10.
In the Opener at Wrigley Field, the Cubs trail the Phillies 6–5 with one on in the 11th when Willie Smith hits a pinch homer into the RF bleachers to give Chicago the 7–6 win. The Cubs will not drop out of first place for 155 days. Ernie Banks has a pair of homers for Chicago and is matched by Don Money’s pair.
9th Billy Williams ties the ML record for doubles in a game with 4 straight in Chicago’s 11–3 win against the Phillies.
The Royals, who debuted with a 4–3 win over the Twins in 12 innings, travel further to win by the same score in 17 frames. The Twins final run comes with the score tied 2–2 in the 5th inning, when with Roger Nelson pitching, Rod Carew steals home for the first time in his career. Billy Martin and Carew had worked on the play in spring training, where Carew had twice swiped home. Carew will be 6–6 on attempts before being caught at home.
Johnny Podres, out of baseball in 1968, makes a brilliant start for San Diego, allowing 2 hits in 7 innings in a 2–0 win over Houston. Sisk finishes the shutout as Larry Dierker takes the loss.
10th Bill Freehan smashes two homers—one with the sacks full—to lead the Tigers to a 12–3 win over the Indians. Mickey Lolich beats Sam McDowell.
At Shea Stadium, Gary Gentry comes within one out of throwing a complete game in his ML debut, but he picks up the victory as the Mets beat the Expos, 4-2. Tommie Agee hits a pair of solo homers off Larry Jaster; the first one is the longest homer ever hit at Shea (according to Phil Lowry’s GreenCathedrals).
Frank Howard bangs a pair of homers, giving him 4 in 3 games, in the Senators 9–6 win over the Yankees. Fritz Peterson gives 10 hits and 6 runs in taking the loss. For the Yanks, Frank Fernandez hits a pair of homers, one a grand slam.
11th Before 14,993, Seattle successfully inaugurates ML baseball at Sicks Stadium, as Gary Bell defeats Chicago 7–0. The Pilots attract 17,850 today and will draw just 678,000 for the season. Scoop Jackson throws out the first ball and will do the same in the Mariners opener, in 1977.
Paul Flesner is baseball’s first DH, going to bat in a Texas League game between Dallas-Ft. Worth and Amarillo. He is 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs as the visiting Amarillo Sonics win 8–5 in 11 innings.
12th With the temperature at 39 degrees at Cleveland, the Red Sox chill the Indians, 5–3. Allowing one hit in 4 innings of relief, Landis wins his 3rd of the season.
At Detroit, the Yanks Mel Stottlemyre allows just one hit—a 4th inning double by Bill Northrup—in beating Denny McLain and the Tigers, 4–0. For the 3rd time in 2 years, Northrup saves the Tigers from being the victims of a no hitter.
The Royals split a pair with the Athletics, taking the opener, 4–1 as Mike Fiore hits the first homer in the Royals’ history. Butler wins over Blue Moon Odom. Nash shuts out the Royals in the nightcap, 3–0, with Reggie Jackson and Dick Green supplying homers.
13thAfter two years of arm and back trouble, the O’s Jim Palmer shuts out the Senators, 2–0, on a four-hitter. It is Palmer’s first appearance for the Orioles since September 19, 1967. Frank Robinson supplies the scoring with a 2-run homer. Tom Phoebus follows suit with a 2-hit shutout in game 2, as the O’s win, 9-0.
Mike Fiore hits the first HR in history of KC Royals as they beat the Athletics, 4–1, in game 1 of a twinbill. But the A’s take the nightcap, 3–0, as Butler has assistance from Moe Drabowsky in the opener, while Jim Nash fires the shutout in the nightcap.
14th Montreal nips St. Louis 8–7, as ML baseball comes to Canada. Dan McGinn is the winner at Jarry Park. Dal Maxvill hits a grand slam for the Cards in a 7-run 4th inning. Mack Jones has a triple and HR for the Expos, and drives in 5 runs.
15th At Cincinnati, the Reds and Giants battle for 12 innings before the Reds win, 11–10. The game is 5–5 at the end of 8 innings, and teams score 3 in the 9th and 2 runs in the 10th. Johnny Bench’s bases-loaded single off Gaylord Perry ends it in the 12th.
Claude Osteen allows 3 hits as the Dodgers run up a football-like score of 14-0 over the Padres. Andy Kosco has a grand slam and 6 RBIs and Tom Haller adds a 3-run homer. Johnny Podres takes the loss for the Pods.
16th The Orioles take first place in the AL East with an 11–8 win at Boston, in a game stopped in the last half of the 8th because of rain. Baltimore will remain in 1st place the rest of the season. Billy Conigliaro, playing in place of his brother, smashes a pair of homers for his first ML hits, but Buford, Blair and Brooks Robinson answer for the O’s.
Fergie Jenkins outduels Steve Carlton and the Cubs edge the Cardinals, 1-0. The benches almost clear in the 7th inning when Mike Shannon knocks over Glenn Beckert at 2B with a hard slide. Beckert holds on to the ball for the out, but leaves the game on a stretcher. Shannon, complaining of dizziness, leaves the game the next inning.
Sal Bando hits the first grand slam in Oakland’s history to lead the A’s to a 6–1 victory over the Angels.
Bobby Murcer starts the Yankee scoring with a 3-run homer in the 1st inning and Joe Pepitone finishes it with a 10th inning grand slam, off Dennis Higgins. The Yankees beat visiting Washington, 7-3.
18th At Boston, Cleveland ace Luis Tiant ties an AL record set in 1901 (Dale Gear) by allowing 10 extra base hits as the Red Sox outslug the Indians, 10-7. Tiant (0-3), a 21-game winner last season, allows 5 doubles and 5 homers in 5 2/3 innings. Ken Harrelson has a pair of homers.
The American Association opens the season using the DPH rule, which the major leagues dropped near the end of spring training. The DPH will also be used in International League (AAA), the Eastern League (AA), and the Arizona Instructional League. Larry Osborne (Omaha; 0-4,1 BB, 1 run) and John Brandt (0-4) are the ones in Oklahoma City. Denver’s Charles Weatherspoon (1-4) and William Wolff (1-3, 1 BB) are the DPHers in Tulsa. Tulsa manager Warren Spahn calls the DPH rule “terrible.” (as noted by John Lewis).
19th Harmon Killebrew beats the Angels defensive shift by hitting an opposite field 9th inning single through the open right side of the infield to give the Twins a 6–5 win. Rod Carew ties the score in the 7th with a steal of home. The Twins have won 5 straight.
Boston trades last year’s 1B Ken Harrelson and pitchers Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro to Cleveland for pitchers Sonny Siebert and Vincente Romo and C Joe Azcue.
The Pirates use a 6-run 7th to beat the Phillies, 8-6. The Phils score 5 in the 8th, 4 on a grand slam by Mike Ryan, but fall short.
20thIt’s a good thing he can pitch, as Red Sox hurler Ray Jarvis strikes out 5 times against Cleveland, but wins, 9–4. Batterymate Jerry Moses supplies the punch, driving in 5 runs, 4 on a grand slam.
21stJim Palmer wins his 3rd straight, allowing 4 hits, as the Orioles clobber the Indians, 11–0.
The Pirates take a pair from the visiting Cubs, winning 7-5 and 6-5. Willie Stargell hits a 1st inning grand slam off Joe Niekro in game 2. With the sweep the Pirates move to a half game back of the leading Cubs in the NL East.
22ndIn his first ML start, Rollie Fingers pitches the A’s to a 7–0 win over the Twins, stopping Minnesota’s 7-game win streak.
23rd Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain, the two pitchers who will tie for the Cy Young award, square off for 10 innings, before the Orioles Cuellar wins, 3–2. McLain retires 21 straight before Hendricks doubles in the 10th, and Cuellar retires 20 straight.
24th After belting homers his first 2 at bats, Reggie Jackson is decked twice by pitches from Woodsen and charges the mound. Reggie gets tossed but the A’s win, 6–4, over the Twins.
25th Giants C Jack Hiatt hits a 2-run first-inning HR and a 13th-inning grand slam to pace a 12–8 victory over Houston. Hiatt has 7 RBIs in the game.
The Sox rally for 2 runs in the 9th to beat the Twins, 6–5, at Comiskey Park. Minnesota goes ahead in the 8th on a 3-run pinch homer by Graig Nettles. Bradford hits a tremendous HR for Chicago, the ball landing on the roof of the LF stands, just the 10th player to do it.
In a trade announced today, the Chicago Cubs swap knuckler Joe Niekro along with Gary Ross and Frankie Libran to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Dick Selma. Selma will go 10-8 in his one season in Chicago, while Niekro will post an 8-17 mark in San Diego. Ross will set an ignominious club mark with 11 straight losses. The Padres waste no time, using Ross today in 1.2 innings of relief in a 4-1 loss to the Reds.
26th The Baseball Records Committee says Babe Ruth should be credited with 715 HRs, because a hit on July 8, 1918 recognized as a triple should have been ruled a HR. The recommendation is ignored.
The Red Sox beat the Tigers, 7–4, with Carl Yastrzemski hitting a pair of homers—one a grand slam. Yaz’s blows give the Sox a record for most homers in 10 straight games with 26.
At Connie Mack Stadium, Mike Shannon belts an 8th inning 3-run homer for the Cards, and then St. Louis scores 6 in the 9th for a 10-4 win over the Phils. Tim McCarver has a grand slam in the 9th. Ron Willis earns his lone win of the year.
27th Harmon Killebrew hits his 400th HR, and the Twins take first place in the AL West by beating Chicago, 4–3.
The Giants sweep Houston 8–5 and 4–3 as Willie McCovey hits a 3-run homer in each game. McCovey has 8 HRs for the month. Hector Torres hits a 2nd inning grand slam in game 1.
Led by Frank Robinson’s 8 RBIs, the first place Orioles sweep a pair from the Yankees, 6–0 and 10–5. Robby has 2 homers and 4 singles. Cuellar shuts out the Yanks, beating Bahnsen (0-5).
Sal Bando drives in 7 runs with 2 homers and a single as the A’s beat the Pilots, 13–5. Starter and winner Rollie Fingers needs relief help with 2 out in the 9th.
The Padres sweep a pair from the Reds, winning 5-2 and 10-9 in 13 innings. Newly acquired Gary Ross (1-0) pitches 2 innings in game 1 and then is the winner in game 2 with 5 shutout innings. Ed Spezio’s 4th hit of the game drives home the winning run. Ross will lose his next 11 straight.
28thNew York’s Fritz Peterson shuts out the Red Sox, 1–0, stopping Boston’s homer streak at 11 games and a record 27 homers.
Senators veteran Camilo Pascual gives up a leadoff HR to Dick McAuliffe, but that is all the scoring Detroit can muster as they lose, 7-1. McAuliffe will try again tomorrow hitting another leadoff HR, but Washington will win, 5-4.
29th San Francisco’s hit-by-pitch specialist Ron Hunt ties the ML record when nailed 3 times by Cincinnati pitchers. A Bobby Bonds homer in the 13th, his fourth hit of the game, seals it for San Francisco, 4–3.
Rookie Dick Woodson wins his first ML game as the Twins paste the Royals, 9-1. Harmon Killebrew clubs a grand slam for Minnesota.
30th The Reds Jim Maloney hurls his first 9-inning no-hitter, and 3rd overall. He has 13 strikeouts and Bobby Tolan drives in 4 runs as Cincinnati romps over Houston 10–0.
Against the Seattle Pilots, the Twins score 3 in the 5th to go ahead, 4–0. Then with the bases loaded, they pull off a triple steal with Carew swiping home for the 3rd time this month en route to a 6–4 win. The Twins will pull off three more triple steals in 1969.
Blue Moon Odom (4-1) pitches a complete-game victory and has 3 hits and a run as Oakland beats the Angels, 9-4. Rick Monday drives in 5 runs, 4 on a grand slam.