2nd The A’s trade prospective free agents Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman, together with a minor league pitcher, to the Orioles for OF Don Baylor and pitchers Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell. Reggie won’t report for a month.
3rdAngels Bobby Bonds suffers a fractured finger during an exhibition game with the Dodgers. After 99 painful games, Bonds will have surgery on August 9th.
7th At Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, a controversy arises about metal cleats prior to a PCL game with Tacoma. Despite the ban on the cleats in the stadium, Tacoma P Bill Butler insists on wearing them and stadium officials switch off the lights during warm-up. Thirty minutes to game, umpire Bill Lawton awards a forfeit to Tacoma since the home team is responsible for playing conditions. The PCL will uphold the forfeit, but minor league prexy Bobby Bragan will overrule it (according to historian Rich Marazzi).
8th At County Stadium, the Brewers open against the Yankees with Hank Aaron driving in 3 runs to back Jim Slaton’s 4-hit 5–0 win. Five days later, Slaton will shut out the Tigers. Catfish Hunter is the loser, allowing 5 runs in 7 innings. Later, both he and reliever Sparky Lyle, complain about the flatness of the mound. Manager Billy Martin alone wears a black arm band in honor of the late Casey Stengel. Martin will wear it all year.
Before a crowd of 52,949, the Reds open at home with an 11–5 win over the Astros.
9th In a classic Opening Day pitchers’ duel between the Orioles Jim Palmer and the Red Sox Fergie Jenkins, who would combine for 552 ML wins, Palmer prevails 1–0.
10th The Braves sign free agent Andy Messersmith to a “lifetime contract” worth $1 million. Owner Ted Turner wants the pitcher to adopt the nickname “Channel” and wear the number 17. Channel 17 is the network that broadcasts the Braves games. MLB nixes the idea.
The Brewers trail 9–6 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning at a full County Stadium. Because of crowd noise, Yankee relief P Dave Pagan does not hear the time-out called by 1B Chris Chambliss on a signal from Billy Martin. Pagan pitches to Don Money, who hits a grand slam. Because of the time-out the HR is nullified. Money bats again, and hits a sacrifice ﬂy. The final score is 9–7 and the Brewers protest the game to no avail.
In the Opening Day 5–4 win at Pittsburgh, Dave Parker scores the winning run in a violent collision at the plate with Phils’ C Johnny Oates. Oates will miss 2 months with a broken collar bone.
11thBefore the largest regular season crowd (53,390) to date in Riverfront history, the Reds whip the Astros, 9–3.
At Philadelphia, the Pirates beat the Phillies and Steve Carlton, 8–3. Bob Moose, in relief of Bruce Kison, picks up a save, as does Doc Medich before the game. While walking in from the bullpen Medich spots a man having a heart attack in the stands. He jumps over the railing and applies CPR. However, the man later dies in the hospital.
12th The Dodgers-Braves game is rained out in Los Angeles, ending a streak of 724 straight games dating back to the team’s first rainout on April 21, 1967. The Braves games of September 11th and 12th will also be rained out.
13thMilwaukee’s Jim Slaton throws his 2nd straight complete game shutout, beating Detroit 1–0. The Brewers’ only run is an unearned score in the top of the 9th.
Tito Fuentes drives in 3 runs and Dave Winfield adds a grand slam as the Padres drub the host Dodgers, 8-5.
14th At Chicago, Mets Dave Kingman launches a HR estimated at 550 feet that plunks a house some 530 feet from home plate, but the Cubs survive to win, 6–5, and tie for 1st. Buddy Schultz cops his only victory of the year, and Hank Webb, in his only decision of the year, takes the loss. Capping the day is Randy Hundley, signed after the Padres release him, who ignites a 3-run rally in the 7th with a pinch double.
15th Newly remodeled Yankee Stadium is jammed with 52,613 fans for Opening Day ceremonies. The 1923 Yankee team is honored, and Bob Shawkey, winner of the 1923 Stadium opener, throws out the first ball. The Yankees beat the Twins 11–4 on 14 hits, but the only HR is hit by Minnesota’s Dan Ford.
17th With the wind blowing out at Wrigley, Mike Schmidt leads a Phils’ assault with a single, four consecutive homers, and 8 RBIs to overcome a 12–1 deficit after three innings and beat the Cubs in 10 innings, 18–16. Chicago had tied in the 9th after the Phils took a 15–13 lead. Schmidt hits one homer off Mike Garman, two off Rick Reuschel, and the last, a 2-run homer, off Rick’s brother, Paul in the 10th. He’s the first National Leaguer in modern times to hit 4 homers in a row. Tug McGraw, who departs for a pinch hitter after Schmidt’s last blow, is the winner, though two more pitchers are needed. The Phils use 7 pitchers, including starter Steve Carlton.
In Cincinnati, as the “Game of the Week” between the Reds and the Giants is about to be televised, a swarm of bees attacks the field between 3B and home, causing a 35-minute delay. Two fans, familiar with bees, coax the swarm into a cardboard box. Fred Norman then buzzes the Giants, 11–0, on 4 hits.
19th The visiting Mets outlast the Cards, 4–3, in a 17-inning contest when Del Unser hits a 2-out homer Bake McBride tallies 5 hits for St. Louis, while Jerry Grote has 4 for New York.
After trailing 7–1 in the 4th inning, the Reds rally to beat the Astros, 9–8. The Reds score 6 runs in the last 3 innings to win. In the 9th, Tony Perez homers and Davey Concepcion hits a 2-out, 2-run single to bring home the winner.
20th Detroit C Milt May, acquired in December 1975, breaks his ankle when he crashes into the wall behind home plate chasing a foul. He is out of action for the 1976 season.
21st In Chicago, Montreal’s Tim Foli hits for the cycle, but it takes him two days to do it. Foli has a single, double and triple against the Cubs today but, with the Expos ahead 11–3, the game is called on account of darkness. When play resumes tomorrow, Foli will add a homer in the 8th inning.
The Astros break up a scoreless duel with the Dodgers by scoring a run in the 16th.
23rdThe Ranger’s Tom Grieve bangs a double and homer in the same inning, but it is not enough as Detroit wins, 7–6.
24th Oakland’s Bert Campaneris steals 5 bases in an 8–7 win over Cleveland.
Mike Schmidt has a 2-run homer and Greg Luzinski a 4-run homer as the Phillies beat the Braves, 10-5. Ron Reed, in relief of Carlton, is the winner.
25th In a dramatic move, Cubs OF Rick Monday snatches an American flag from 2 fans who are about to set it on fire in the outfield during a game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers win 5–4 in 10 innings. The next day, the Illinois legislature unanimously approves May 4th as Rick Monday Day.
The Braves top the Phils, 3–2, as Darrell Evans draws a walk in his 13th consecutive game to set a new NL record, He’ll draw passes in 2 more games, till April 27, before being shut out. Evans has 19 walks in the 15 games.
26th Milwaukee’s Don Money hits a leadoff homer off Frank Tanana for the only score of the game as the Brewers beat California, 1–0. Tanana allows one more hit, while Jim Colburn gives up 3 in 8.1 innings.
27th Jason Thompson has 4 hits, including a HR, and Rusty Staub hits a grand slam, off Rollie Fingers, as Detroit rolls by the A’s, 10-2.
28th At San Francisco, Cardinals rookie Doug Clarey hits a 2-run pinch homer in the top of the 16th off veteran Mike Caldwell as St. Louis beats the Giants, 4-2. It is Clarey’s lone ML homer. Willie Crawford has 5 hits and Lou Brock 4 in the game.
30th Behind Rick Rhoden, the Dodgers clip the Cardinals, 5-1. Catcher Steve Yeager has a homer and a straight steal of home for LA.