NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York Yankees will look to improve upon their impressive 75-38-1 Opening Day record when they visit the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
We set out to rank the five best performances by Yankees in season openers, which was no easy task considering the volume of games for a franchise with such a rich history. Here are the five we landed on.
5. RON GUIDRY, 1980
“Louisiana Lightning” pitched nine dazzling innings on Opening Day 1980, allowing just two hits and no runs. However, he found himself locked in an epic pitchers’ duel with the Texas Rangers’ Jon Matlack, the former Mets All-Star who allowed no runs on three hits over nine innings. The Rangers finally broke the scoreless tie to win the game in the bottom of the 12th inning on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Goose Gossage.
4. RUSS DERRY, 1945
Derry only played in 187 big-league games, yet he had one of the most impactful Opening Days in Yankees history. On April 17, 1945, at Yankee Stadium, Derry went 2-for-4 with two homers. His seventh-inning grand slam broke a 4-4 tie against the Boston Red Sox. The Bronx Bombers then held on for the 8-4 victory.
3. ROGER MARIS, 1960
Maris made his presence felt in his Yankees debut on April 19, 1960. He batted 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs in an 8-4 win at Boston. Maris went on to win the American League MVP that season – and, of course, the following year as well when he belted a then-record 61 homers.
2. BABE RUTH, 1932
Ruth’s best season opener as a Yankee came in 1932 when he was 37 years old. Playing against the Philadelphia Athletics, he went 3-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs in a 12-6 victory. Of course, the “Sultan of Swat” is better remembered for doing something else during the 1932 season – calling his own home run shot in the World Series (or did he?).
1. MEL STOTTLEMYRE, 1967
In a 8-0 win at the Washington Senators, Stottlemyre tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout, striking out six. Impressively, Stottlemyre put on an encore exactly one year later, when he threw a four-hit, complete-game shutout on Opening Day against the California Angels.