Results tagged ‘ San Diego Padres ’
We counted down to Opening Day on this MLB.com blog starting in January, we tracked all the firsts throughout MLB Opening Series at Sydney, and now we keep going through Opening Night and then all Opening Week extravaganzas. Join MLB.com’s Mark Newman here, follow Dodgers-Padres live with MLB.com Gameday and on ESPN.
On April 3, 1989, a promising and future Hall of Fame infielder named Roberto Alomar reached base four times for the Padres. It was his first Opening Day game. Playing at home against the Giants, Alomar walked on four pitches in the first inning and then scored; he had an RBI single the next inning; and he walked in the fourth and ninth innings.
Such Opening Days were fairly standard for a generation of fans. Alomar was a sign of the game’s return, first for the Padres and then the Blue Jays, among seven clubs he played for in his 17-year Major League career. He was an All-Star for 12 consecutive seasons, from 1990-2001.
Alomar’s final Opening Day game was April 6, 2004, batting second for Arizona at home against Colorado. Alomar walked twice, as he had in his first Opening Day appearance 15 years earlier. In 2011, he was inducted at Cooperstown. Times change, the players change, but Opening Day goes on as we approach Major League Baseball’s Opening Series on March 22 in Sydney, Australia. MLB Schedule | Tickets
Who should be No. 11?
Mike Piazza hit 427 home runs, including a Major League-record 396 as a catcher. Looking back at his 16-year career, four of those longballs especially command our attention now on the Opening Day Countdown Down Under blog, which enthusiastically tips its cap to No. 31 legends like Greg Maddux, Fergie Jenkins and Dave Winfield, as well as returning Red Sox ace Jon Lester.
Piazza already had made it to six straight All-Star Games during his early years with the Dodgers, but he became an Opening Day tour de force in the second half of his career once he got to the Mets. When he swung, it felt like Opening Day, with electricity. He went deep four times in a span of seven years from 2000-06. Here’s the rundown:
2000, Cubs at Mets: They opened that season in Tokyo, and 55,000 fans at the dome there saw Piazza bash a two-run homer in the eighth inning off reliever Brian Williams. It was a 5-3 loss, but it got the ball rolling toward the Mets’ first National League pennant since their 1986 title. Who can forget Piazza vs. Roger Clemens that fall?
2001, Mets at Braves. Everyone remembers the homer Piazza hit in the first MLB game after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some consider that their greatest baseball memory. But do you remember what happened when Piazza first swung a bat that same season? It was a two-run homer off future Hall of Famer (and Countdown Down Under veteran) Tom Glavine, and the difference in a 6-4 Mets win. By the way, that photo you see at the top of this post is Piazza rounding the bases after one of two homers he hit against the same Braves the following week at Shea Stadium in the Mets’ home opener.
2004, Mets at Braves. Another Opening Day homer at Atlanta, this time a solo shot in the third inning off Russ Ortiz in a 7-2 Mets win. That made it three Opening Day homers for the Mets in five years, worthy of club lore.
2006, Giants at Padres. Piazza returned to Southern California and wore No. 33 in his only San Diego season, as the Padres had retired Winfield’s No. 31 jersey in 2001. But Piazza made his customary splash. In his Padres debut, he slugged a solo homer off Jason Schmidt in the second inning at Petco Park, providing San Diego’s first run of the year. Here’s the familiar jog:
Opening Day is just one of 162, but it is more food for thought for Hall of Fame voters next winter.