With the opening of a new season comes a clean slate where we get a chance to write the names of players who became the first to ……
April 4, 1988 – who remembers the first home run hit in the 1988 season ? Well of course, it was Joe Magrane. To be fair, it was in Cincinnati, which was (and still is) somewhat of a launching pad for hitters who swing big sticks. But who would have thought that Big Joe would have hit the first homer in 1988, especially with Bob Horner hitting cleanup ?
Horner would actually hit a home run in the second game of the season, for the Cardinals only run as Danny Jackson and the Reds beat up on the Cardinals. The most amazing thing about that game was that Jose DeLeon started for the Cardinals, and it was finished in less that 3 hours.
April 11, 1967 – OK, so maybe Bob Gibson getting the first strikeout of the 1967 season isn’t exactly news, but did you know that he actually fanned the first 5 batters he faced ? He would go on to defeat the San Francisco Giants with a dominating complete game shutout. Gibby would only allow 5 hits while striking out 13 along the way. In that game, Lou Brock would get the first Cardinals hit, stolen base and home run. Tim McCarver would also contribute a stolen base, Phil Gagliano would hit a homer – even Dal Maxvill got an RBI. No wonder they went on to win the World Series.
Oh, and since this one was Gibson and Marichal, you know the game was over in less than 2 hours.
April 6, 1982. Lonnie Smith would have the misfortune of being the first Cardinal hit by a pitch in 1982. I say that because it came from the arm of Nolan Ryan. For Smith’s sake, I hope it was an errant curveball, because the other choice would leave a mark that is probably still visible today. I guess it didn’t hit Smith in the leg because he stole second base immediately after the visit from the trainer. Darrell Porter would get the first Cardinals hit, RBI and home run – all in the same at bat when he took Ryan deep later in the first inning. The route was on, and by the end of the game, the Cardinals would look up at a 14-3 win on opening day.
I’m sure we all remember April 5, 2010. Home runs were plentiful. Albert Pujols would homer in his first at-bat, and again later in the game. Yadier Molina and Colby Rasmus would each add a homer as the Cardinals pound the Reds. The bullpen made the game seem closer than it really was.
This brings us to March 31, 2011. The San Diego Padres will visit the St. Louis Cardinals in the season opener. Here are my predictions for firsts of the new season…….
1. Mike Shannon will make the first error when he calls our new right fielder Lance Bergman. It’s a K Mike, a K. You should know that, you had 525 of them in your major league career. Ahhh, don’t worry big guy, Colby Rasmus is still striking nearly twice as often as you did. And you do have two World Series rings.
2. Ryan Theriot will be the first Cardinal hit by a pitch, but it will be from teammate Chris Carpenter after Theriot failed to get to three inning ending grounders, leading to four Padres runs.
3. David Freese will be the first injured Cardinal as he dislocates his uvula while brushing his teeth between the third and fourth inning. He narrowly escaped injury earlier in the day when a Clydesdale nearly steps on his surgically repaired ankle. It doesn’t matter which one, they were both repaired last year and are as delicate as a Faberge Egg.
4. The first Cardinals RBI will belong to Ryan Ludwick, until we realize he doesn’t play for the Cardinals any more. That honor will instead to go Matt Holliday as he drives in Albert Pujols with a double – every time he comes up to the plate.
6. The first game saving catch will be made by
Ryan Ludwick Adron Chambers, but unfortunately it will will have to wait until opening day 2012.
Those are my picks for the first of 2011, what are some of yours ?