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On This Day in History, April 17: The Stats on Opening Day, 1951

The Brooklyn Eagle never passed an opportunity by to ballyhoo the borough’s beloved Dodgers. Although long gone now, we like to remember those golden years of baseball in Brooklyn.

April 17 was opening day for the Dodgers in 1951 and Eagle sports columnist Ben Gould had an opening to dig up some facts and figures on opening days of baseball teams through the years:

The only two Dodger hurlers — since 1930 — who have won more than one opening-day game are fireballer Van Lingle Mungo and Lanky Curt Davis. Davis actually holds three decisions but the first one was turned in when he wore the uniform of the Phillies … The only Flock hurler in the past 29 years to record an opening-day shutout was Whit Wyatt, who turned the trick back in 1940, but the next season he was defeated on the first day of the season by Ace Adams of the Giants.

Last year [1950] Don Newcombe was humbled on opening day by the Phillies, 9-1, to snap a string of three straight notched by the Dodgers … Champion hurler of them all is Wes Ferrell who snared six inaugural decisions without a setback. Even the great Diz Dean, with five starts, could do no better than a 2-2 standoff … And the baffling Carl Hubbell had an opening day jinx he could never shake off since he lost three out of four decisions in five starts … Same goes for Lefty Gomez, who won the opening-day nod six times but recorded a poor 2-3 slate.

Bob Feller, who won four of these classics, wound up as a shutout victor three times … Solly Hemus, infielder of the Cardinals, is the only major leaguer whose birthday falls on opening day. He lights 27 candles on his birthday cake today, while Ed Burtschy of the Athletics will mark the same achievement tomorrow. His teammate, Pete Suder, was 34 years old yesterday … Watty Clark, ye olde Dodger lefty, lost a tough 1-0 decision to Les Sweetland of the Phillies back in the 1930 opener with the Flock obtaining only three hits.

The only teams to change their uniforms this season are the White Sox and the Cards … The Palehose have adopted the fashionable pin-stripe model worn by last year’s pennant winners, the Yanks and Phils, and the hat has the word ‘Sox’ instead of the traditional ‘C’ on it. The Cards have changed the color of the bat on which the birds rest to gold instead of solid black while slight changes also have been made in the birds and style of lettering.

The largest throng to watch the Dodgers in an opening-day tiff totaled 34,350 back in 1949, but this was some 3,000 less than the all-time Ebbets Field single game crowd of 37,512 who jammed the park back in Aug. 30, 1947 … However, on May 30, 1934, 41,209 managed to squeeze their way past the turnstiles in a doubleheader for the biggest of all E.F. [Ebbet’s Field] crowds … The Dodgers, despite their small park, hold the National League’s all-time season record mark, having enticed 1,897,526 fans past the gates back in 1947.

And, er, about that 1951 opening day, ah hem, Brooklyn lost to Philly 5-2.

April 17, 2012 - 10:07am


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