5thJackie Robinson is one of 12 former players and coaches elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Robinson is joined by Owen Carroll, Billy Disch, Steve Arlin, Eddie Bane, Floyd Bannister, Neal Heaton, Burt Hooten, Dick Howser, Ben McDonald, Greg Swindell, and Gary Ward.
8thA letter, handwritten by Hank Aaron early in his pro career, sells for $24,150. It is believed to be a record for a modern player’s penned note.
13thComedian Billy Crystal strikes out in his one appearance as the Yankees leadoff man in an exhibition game against the Pirates.
14thThe Cardinals sign free agent P Kyle Lohse to a one-year contract. Lohse will reward them by winning 15 games.
15thThe Dodgers and Padres play to a 3-3 tie in the first MLB game played in China. A crowd of 12,224 see the match at the new Olympic venue in Beijing.
Georgia Southern defeats Columbia, 26-8, setting an NCAA record by hitting 14 homers in the contest.
25thThe Red Sox defeat the Athletics, 6-5, in 10 innings in the earliest opener in ML history. The game is played before a crowd of 44,628 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Manny Ramirez drives home the winning runs with his 2nd two-run double of the game after rookie Brandon Moss tied the game in the 9th with his first ML homer.
According to MLB, 23.5 percent of the players on Opening Day rosters were first-round draft picks while 18.8 percent came from the second and third rounds.
29thThe Dodgers and Red Sox play an exhibition game at the Coliseum in Los Angeles to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team’s move from Brooklyn. The game, won by the Sox, 7-4, is played before a crowd of 115,300. It is the largest crowd ever to watch a baseball game.
30thPresident Bush throws out the first ball before 39,389 and the Nationals defeat the Braves, 3-2, at the new $611 million Nationals Park. The ballpark features dramatic views of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. Brian Zimmerman inaugurates the park by crashing a two-out walkoff homer in the 9th. Braves pitchers had retired 24 straight batters before Zimmerman’s hit. Nick Johnson has an RBI-double in his first at bat in more than 18 months. He’ll have two more doubles tomorrow in a win over the Phillies, but he’ll play just 38 games for the Nationals, hitting .220.
31stIn a wild one at Turner Field, the Braves score 5 runs on 2 singles and 3 walks in the 9th to send the game with the Pirates into overtime. Xavier Nady’s 2nd homer of the game, a 3-run shot in the 12th, is too much to overcome as the Pirates win, 12-11. Nady has 4 hits and scores 4 runs, while Nate McLouth has a 3-run homer in the 8th.
At Dodger Stadium, Brad Penny pitches into the 7th allowing 4 hits in stopping the Giants, 5-0. Barry Zito joins a group that includes Rick Reuschel, Frank Killen, Tim Keefe and Jim McCormick, the only major-league pitchers to lose four straight Opening Day starts. Jeff Kent hits a 2-run homer in the 1st for all the runs Penny needs. Andre Ethier starts in LF and Juan Pierre sits, ending his streak of 386 games played, the longest current streak in the ML.
In Detroit, John Buck scores the winning run in the 11th as the Royals deflate Detroit, 5-4. Gary Sheffield makes his 20th straight Opening Day start and walks 4 times as the DH for Detroit. Sheffield has started Opening Day for 7 different teams.
The Cubs unveil a statue of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks outside Wrigley Field, then play host to the Brewers. Milwaukee scores 3 runs in the 9thbut Kosuke Fukudome cracks a 3-run homer in the bottom of the frame off Eric Gagne to tie at 3 apiece. The Brewers push across a run in the 10thto win, 4-3.