Summer is Coming: Phillies' Opening Day No. 131

Washington's 2011 "Opening Day Starter" John Lannan delivers the first pitch of 2010 to Jimmy Rollins. - Greg Fiume

The Phillies begin their 131st season on April Fools' Day. Here's a brief look at how those 130 days have gone.

The Phillies were born as the Philadelphia Quakers, and entered the record books on May 1, 1883, with a 3-4 loss to the Providence Grays behind legendary pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn. The Quakers initially impressed, holding a 2-0 lead into the 8th, when the wheels fell off for pitcher John Coleman. Five errors led to four runs. Recreation Park was packed with "fully 8,000 people," as the Phillies nee Quakers began life in the most Phillies way. In what was one of the worst seasons a Major League team has ever assembled, the Quakers posted a 17-81 record. "Ace" pitcher Coleman posted 48 losses, still the Major League record.

Changing their name to Phillies for 1884, the club fared somewhat better, posting a 13-2 win over the Detroit Wolverines, on the way to a much-improved 39-73 record. Coleman lost only 15 games that year.

Over the next 128 years, the Phillies slowly strayed from their .500 mark, roughly in parallel with their all-time record.

Some notable Opening Days:

  • April 11, 1907. New York's Polo Grounds were buried in as much as a foot of snow, and conditions worsened through the game. Predictably, snowball fights broke out constantly, culminating in a near riot, in which seats were ripped up and thrown onto the field. Due to weather conditions, the New York Police Department had only two available officers, who were utterly outmatched by the mob. Umpire Bill Klem forfeited the game to the Phillies in the eighth inning.
  • April 17, 1923. At Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, the Phillies and Dodgers traded blows for 14 innings, before the game was called a 5-5 tie. The Dodgers' Dutch Ruether pitched a complete game, allowing all five runs, while Philadelphia's Bill Hubbell was chased in the fifth. Also of note, Cliff Lee went 2 for 6.
  • April 15, 1924. At the much-maligned Baker Bowl, the Phillies started their second consecutive season 0-0-1, playing the Boston Braves to a 6-6 11-inning tie. Cliff Lee recorded an RBI with a sacrifice.
  • April 18, 1950. Robin Roberts takes the mound for the first of 12 consecutive Opening Day starts, shutting down the Brooklyn Dodgers 9-1 in a complete game effort. Meanwhile, Dodger ace Don Newcombe couldn't record an out in the second inning, allowing four runs. The Phillies finished the season 91-63, claiming their second National League Pennant in only their fourth winning season since their first Pennant in 1915.
  • April 6, 1974. After three seasons opening on the road, Steve Carlton took the mound for Veterans' Stadium's first Opening Day, opposite New York Mets' ace (and former Alaska Goldpanner) Tom Seaver. Carlton was ineffective, allowing three runs in five innings, yet the Phillies rang up three runs before Seaver departed in the 8th, turning the game over to Tug McGraw, who allowed a walk-off homerun to a 23 year old career .197 hitter named Mike Schmidt. Suck it, Mets.
  • April 4, 2005. In their second season at Citizen's Bank Park, the Phillies welcomed the Montrashington Expotionals to the United States, handing Elb 2.0 an 8-4 defeat in their inaugural game. Jon Leiber got the start for the Phils, and pitched like Jon Leiber, allowing three runs on ten hits over 5.2 innings, before turning the game over the Rheal Cormier, Ryan Madson, Tim Worrell and Daddy Wags to secure the win. Nationals' starter Livan Hernandez (my how far that team has come) was worse, allowing seven runs in 4.2 innings. He also hit Jim Thome with a pitch. Chase Utley recorded a pinch-hit RBI; and a certain Viking went 2 for 3 with a walk.
  • April 1, 2013. Cole Hamels pitched a perfect game, striking out 22, while Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown combined to hit sixteen homeruns; as the Phillies crushed the Atlanta Braves 42-0, setting the... Oh, ahem, excuse me, I nodded off for a second there. Where was I?
Over the past 130 years, the Phillies have opened seasons with a 59-70-2 record, a .454 winning percentage. slightly below their all-time mark of .473. Of the 72 men who have taken the mound as Opening Day starter, five are currently enshrined in the Hall of Fame; two more should be; one was a second baseman; one was named Blanton; and one was nicknamed Brewery Jack.

The Phillies have matched up against 17 different franchises, including 28 times against the varying incarnations this year's opponent, the Atlanta Braves (Boston Braves, Beaneaters, etc), wherein they have assembled a fine 15-12-1 record. In 26 rounds against the Dodgers (nee Robins, Grooms, Bridegrooms, Superbas), the Phils are 12-13-1; and in 23 against the Giants (New York only), they've managed only 9-14. The Pittsburgh Pirates have gone 5-1 against the Phillies (edit: an earlier version noted that the Pirates had swept the Phils); while the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros have combined to go 0-5 when facing the Phils.

38 venues have been host to a Phillies' Opener; five home parks (Recreation Park, the Baker Bowl, Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans' Stadium and now Citizen's Bank Park), and 32 on the road. Sadly, playing at home does not appear to provide an advantage, as the Phils are 23-34-1 when opening in front of their own tenth men, a .397 winning percentage. The Phils were best at Connie Mack, posting a 10-3 record; and suffered most at the Baker Bowl (8-17-1) and the Vet (2-8).

The All-Opening Day Phillies (based on number of Opening Day starts)
3B Mike Schmidt (16)
SS Jimmy Rollins / Larry Bowa (12 each)


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