March 8th, 2014
Exactly two weeks away from Major League Baseball’s Opening Series on March 22 in Sydney, Australia, we continue the countdown with a salute to every No. 14 in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Ernie Banks, Jim Bunning, Larry Doby and Jim Rice.
Banks made his Opening Day debut at St. Louis on April 13, 1954. He delivered a 2-run single off Hal White to add insurance in a 13-4 Cubs romp, and he spent his entire career with the Cubs as an Opening Day fixture. “Let’s play two!” became his calling card, and fans loved to watch him play.
Bunning made six Opening Day starts, one with the Phillies, four with the Tigers and one with the Pirates. The highlight was a 4-3 complete-game road victory over the White Sox in 1958.
Doby became the first black player in the American League when he appeared for Cleveland at home against the White Sox on July 5, 1947. That was less than two months after Jackie Robinson, our featured 42 Days player here, broke MLB’s barrier for Brooklyn. In 1948, Doby had his first chance to start on Opening Day, and in the process of that Bob Feller two-hit shutout at home against the St. Louis Browns, Doby, playing right field, threw Whitey Platt out at first. Doby helped Cleveland to that year’s World Series title, its last to date in franchise history.
Rice hit a three-run homer off Rick Wise of the Indians at Fenway Park on April 5, 1979. That’s all Dennis Eckersley would need it a 7-1 triumph. It is random, but it was typical in reminding you of Rice’s place among the game’s great sluggers.
Maybe Paul Konerko will join them in Cooperstown one day. That will remain to be seen, as the White Sox star prepares to retire after this season. Tickets are available to see his swan song in a ballpark near you. MLB Schedule | Tickets
Who should be No. 13?