5th The White Sox trade SS Bucky Dent to the Yankees for OF Oscar Gamble, and minor league pitchers LaMarr Hoyt and Bob Polinsky, and an estimated $200,000. Gamble will have a fine season in Chicago and Hoyt will blossom into the ace of the White Sox staff in the early 1980’s. Dent became expendable when he demanded a 3-year deal from the Sox. He is reunited with his college roommate Mickey Rivers (Miami-Dade College).
4thThe Angels trade Mike Easler to the Pirates for P Randy Sealy. Easler will continue to bounce between the majors and minors, before sticking for good in 1980.
6th Before 57,762 at the Kingdome, the Seattle Mariners make their debut, losing to Frank Tanana and the Angels 7–0. Joe Rudi is 3-for-4 with a homer and 4 RBIs. The loser for the M’s is Diego Segui, who pitched in the Seattle Pilots Opener in 1969, a 4–3 loss at Anaheim. Segui is the only player to appear for both the Pilots and the Mariners. He’ll go 0-7 in this his last season.
According to a UPI survey, there are ten players in Opening Day lineups who make $250,000 or more in salary. The leaders at $400,000 a year are Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt and Gary Matthews. Pete Rose is in fourth place at $350,000 as the Reds boast the highest opening lineup salary at $1.7 million. Ten players in the Yankees starting day lineup total $1,495,000, which does not include four high-priced starting pitchers. The Red Sox starting lineup totals $1,552,000 in salary.
Despite a snowfall of 4 inches this morning, the Reds open against the Padres, winning 5–3. The snow, which stops falling at 11:30, is cleared out of the stadium a half hour before the game’s start.
7th On snowy day, American League baseball makes its debut in Toronto at a football field called Exhibition Stadium. Doug Ault hits two home runs in a 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman tags Ken Brett for a solo shot in the first and then hits a two-run homer in the third off Brett before 44,649 freezing fans. Al Woods hits a pinch HR on he first pitch in his first ML at bat, just the 11th player in ML history to do so. The first was Ace Parker, now in the Hall of Fame (football).
Before 43,785 in the Opener at Yankee Stadium, Catfish Hunter holds the Brewers to five hits, three by Von Joshua, as the Yankees win 3–0. Von’s last hit strikes Catfish in the instep and he leaves after 7 innings of work. Sparky Lyle pitches the last two innings. Jim Wynn has two hits for New York, including a homer in his first Yankee at-bat. Reggie Jackson, in his first start as a Yankee, also has two hits and two runs, one on a suicide squeeze by Willie Randolph. With the recent addition of Bucky Dent to the lineup, the Yankees start an all-star at every position (Catfish Hunter, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph, Dent, Graig Nettles, Roy White, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson and Jimmy Wynn). They will duplicate this on Opening Day 2005.
In the Dodgers opener in Los Angeles, Giants leadoff hitter Gary Thomasson apparently doesn’t get the word that the first pitch is to be handed over to the umps and sent to Cooperstown. Instead, he cranks the Don Sutton lollipop for a home run. But it is all the scoring the Giants can muster, and they lose, 5–1.
9th Thanks to a 9-run 3rd inning, the Royals take a 16-0 lead against the host Tigers en route to a 16-2 win. Most of the KC regulars sit out the 2nd half of the game.
10th The Indians (13) and Red Sox (6) combine for 19 runs in the 8th inning to set a modern ML record. Cleveland wins, 19–9. Jim Norris has 4 hits including his first ML homer, in the 4th inning. It is the only homer of the game.
At Riverfront, the Padres pound the Reds, 12-4, as the offense collects 15 hits. Dave Winfield has 3 hits and 4 RBIs. Rookie Bob Shirley comes within one out of a complete game as he strikes out 11 in his ML debut, 4 short of the NL mark. No Padre hurler will even reach 8 K’s in his debut till 2017.
Three solos and a Joe Rudi grand slam power the Angels to 12-5 win over the Mariners at the Kingdome. Rudi adds an RBI double. Frank Tanana (2-0) allows a run in 6 innings for the win.
At Yankee Stadium, Sixto Lezcano connects for two solo homers, one in the 4th and another in the 9th, both off Don Gullett, to give the Brewers a 2-1 win over the Yankees.
12th The Tigers send popular veteran DH-OF Willie Horton to Texas for P Steve Foucault. Both players will move on after one season.
Phillip K. Wrigley, owner of the Chicago Cubs, dies at the age of 82. He had just started his 42nd season with the Cubs. William Wrigley succeeds his father as chairman of the executive committee of the team.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers score 6 in the 1st and 6 more in the 5th, then hang on to beat the Braves, 14-10. Steve Garvey homers and drives in 4 runs, while Steve Yeager triples and homers and knocks in 5. Jeff Burroughs hits a grand slam for the Braves. Rick Rhoden allows 8 runs in 5 innings but takes the win.
15th The Expos play their first game in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium before a crowd of 57,592. The Phillies win 7–2.
16th Regulations force Oakland P Vida Blue to discard his old, discolored “lucky” cap because it is no longer “identical in color, trim and style” to those of his teammates.
In Milwaukee, Cecil Cooper hits a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 9th off Sparky Lyle to tie the Yankees 3–3, then a Sal Bando triple and single by Steve Brye wins it.
17th In Atlanta, the umpiring crew walks off the field to protest a controversial play being shown on the large instant replay screen. The 4th inning play involved the Astros Bob Watson scoring on a close play at the plate. Braves’ executive Bill Lucas persuaded the umps to return, assuring them that no more close plays would be shown. The Braves win, 5–4, over Houston.
18th At County Stadium, the Padres use the long book in beating the Braves, 12-6. Gene Tenace has 2 homers, including a grand slam, for 5 RBIs, and Doug Rader has a 3-run homer and knocks in 4. George Hendricks solos.
19thBrooks Robinson makes his last home run a dramatic one. Pinch hitting for Larry Harlow, he hits a three run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Dave LaRoche to beat the Indians 6-5. Brooks will go to bat just 47 times this year, finishing his career with 268 homers. In yesterday’s game against Cleveland, O’s rookie Eddie Murray hits his first ML homer, off former Oriole Pat Dobson.
Kansas City whips the Twins, 11–3, as Frank White paces the KC offense with a double and homer in one inning.
20th In Montreal, the Pirates beat the Expos, 8-6, as Dave Parker and Phil Garner hit 2-run homers. Gary Carter drives in 4 runs on 3 homers for Montreal.
21st Detroit’s Dave Rozema shuts down Boston 8–0 for his first ML win.
Yankee manager Billy Martin, faced with a 2-8 slump in the past 10 games, draws his lineup out of a hat. Chambliss batting 8th drives in 5 runs on 2 doubles and a homer and New York beats Toronto, 8–6. Ken Holtzman is the winner.
24th Fergie Jenkins fires the first shutout ever in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium, as the Red Sox defeat the Blue Jays, 9–0.
In Atlanta, the Dodgers break open a close game with a 7-run 8th, highlighted by Ron Cey’s grand slam to beat the Braves, 16-6. LA scores a pair in the 9th on solo homers, the second being Charlie Hough’s only homer in his 25-year career. The two teams combine for 9 different players hitting homers, which ties the ML mark.
Chris Chambliss homers and doubles to drive in 6 runs as the Yankees thrash the Indians, 10-1. Ron Guidry throws the last 3 innings to earn the first of 4 career saves. The Yanks complete the sweep with a 7-1 win in game 2 as Ed Figueroa goes the distance.
Rich Chiles drives in 4 runs and Larry Hisle belts a grand slam as the Twins take a 12-0 lead against Texas. The final is 12-6.
25th The Reds score a record-tying 12 runs in the 5th inning off 3 Braves pitchers (Phil Niekro, Jamie Easterly, and Mike Beard), and 23 in the game, in crushing the Braves, 23–9. George Foster clouts 2 homers, a double and single, scores 5 runs and drives home 7 to lead Cincy. The previous time 12 runs scored in an inning was September 3, 1926, also allowed by the Braves.
In a 4-3 loss to Boston in game 1, Toronto rookie Jerry Garvin serves notice to the American League by picking off three runners, nabbing Scott once and Dillard twice. A month from now he will pick off 4 as he sets a rookie and AL mark by the end of the year with 23 pickoffs. The Jays win game 2, 6-5.
26th The Rangers trade Lenny Randle to the Mets for Rick Auerbach and cash.
Dan Driessen has 2 homers and 6 RBIs to pace the Reds to a 9–1 win over the Braves in Atlanta.
27th The Cardinals drive by the Cubs, 21-3, collecting 19 hits. Mike Anderson, who did not start the game, has the only Birds homer, hitting a 2-run shot in the 7th. Garry Templeton scores 5 runs for the Cards to make it easy for John Denny (5-0).
The Yankees obtain P Mike Torrez from the A’s in exchange for P Dock Ellis, infielder Marty Perez, and OF Larry Murray. Torrez will have a fine season in New York before signing with Boston as a free agent.
In a car chase in Detroit, 7 different players hit homers, but the big one is a grand slam by Jason Thompson in the Tigers’ 7-run 3rd inning. Detroit holds on for a 10-9 win over Chicago. Chicago hits 5 homers in the loss.
The Dodgers hold of the Padres, who score 4 in the 9th, to win, 7-6. Bill Russell has 4 hits, and Ron Cey has 2, including a homer, for his fifth multihit game in a row. He’s hit in 17 straight games since the start of the season. The baseball gods will respond, however, and Cey will finish the regular season with 31 straight hitless at bats.
29th Ron Guidry makes his a first start of the year and blanks the Mariners, 3–0, with relief help from Lyle. Thurman Munson belts a 3-run homer for New York, which moves into 2nd place.
30th Ron Cey cracks a 7th-inning homer in a 6–4 Dodger win over the Expos. Cey finishes the month with a ML record for April of 29 RBI to lead the Dodgers to a 17-3 start under new manager Tommy Lasorda.
At Fenway, Luis Tiant (2-1) goes 8 innings allowing 3 runs as the Red Sox double the Athletics, 8-4. Batterymate Carlton Fisk has 3 hits and scores 3 runs, one on a steal of home.