The 10 best Opening Day moments for the White Sox
White Sox Opening Day Carlton Fisk

The 10 best Opening Day moments for the White Sox

David Brown

1. Bo Is Hip To The Comeback — April 9, 1993

After sustaining a devastating hip injury playing in the NFL in January 1991, Bo Jackson's athletic career appeared to be over. Jackson was let go in subsequent weeks by the Raiders and Royals, and the Sox picked him up and Bo played 23 games with them in the 1991 season. He didn't have his hip replaced until the following April, and rehab made Jackson miss the '92 season entirely. But in his first at-bat of the 1993 season, at the home opener against the Yankees, Bo took left-hander Neal Heaton deep for a solo homer. Hawk Harrelson on the call:

The Sox lost the game 12-8. Bo hit .232/.289/.433 with 16 homers in his age 30 season, and the won the old AL West before falling to the Blue Jays in the ALCS. Bo went 0 for 10 with three walks, a run scored and six strikeouts in the series. In all, a medical marvel and a portend to a fun season.

2. Carlton Fisk Wears Out Red Sox — April 10, 1981

In one of the greatest acts of revenge in sports history, Carlton Fisk hit an eighth-inning, go-ahead, three-run homer against his old team, the Red Sox. And it came in his first game for his new team, the White Sox. In the previous offseason, the Red Sox inadvertently made Fisk a free agent by putzing around until the last moment to file paperwork for a new contract. Well, they missed a deadline and Fisk told them to screw off, instead signing with the White Sox as the centerpiece of new ownership's revitalization plan. Watch it fly over the Green Monster against Bob Stanley. Listen to Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall go crazy on the call:

Next time those Red Sox suits will show Mr. Fisk some respect.

3. Fisk Swats Grand Slam vs. Brewers In First Home Opener With Sox – April 14, 1981

Hey, here he is again! Fisk hit only seven homers total in 1981 (dingers were down around the league), so it was nice to tie 28.6 percent of his in '81 to Opening Day ceremonies somewhere. It was huge for him to hit a grand slam in front of 51,560 fans at Comiskey, with himself, Greg Luzinski and Ron LeFlore signaling the start of the Jerry & Eddie Era. The Sox had a strong first half before the players strike, but a weak second half and they missed the playoffs. Still, the 81-83 era stands as one of the better multi-year runs since the Go-Go Era of the 1950s and '60s. Pathetic but ... it's all we had!

4. Cleveland's Bob Feller fires no-hitter at White Sox — April 16, 1940

They can't all be White Sox winners, these Opening Day moments. Especially when 21-year-old Bob Feller tosses a no-hitter for Cleveland at Comiskey Park in front of 14,000 reported fans. Feller struck out eight and walked five. Luke Appling went 0 for 3 with a walk. It was the first no-hitter on Opening Day in Major League history. Negro Leagues star Leon Day also threw a no-hitter on Opening Day in 1946. Feller no-hit a good Sox team in 1940, one that went 82-72 and finished eight games out of first place. Cleveland won 89 games and finished one game back of first-place Detroit, just missing a chance for an all-Ohio World Series against the Reds.

5. Sox open new Comiskey Park with 16-0 loss to Tigers — April 18, 1991

The Sox did pretty well if you ignore innings 3-4.

Stop me if you've heard this: They can't all be White Sox winners, these Opening Day moments. What's worse? Losing a no-hitter on Opening Day or building a new ballpark and losing 16-0 on Opening Day? Hey, you don't have to choose if you're the White Sox. You can just revel in either. Or both! Here's the first big blow of the game from one of the biggest blokes ever, Cecil Fielder:

Wasn't it nice to hear Mel Allen's voice? You couldn't hear it in the ballpark, that's for damn sure. Too many groans for Jack McDowell, who was giving a preview of his postseason performances. Who else did all of the damage? Rob Deer clubbed two homers and drove in four, and Tony Phillips had four hits. So did Alan Trammell. Everyone on the Tigers had four hits, probably.

6. Old Comiskey Park marks Opening Day For The Last Time — April 9, 1990

White Sox ownership over the years had allowed Comiskey Park to fall into periodic disrepair. It was expensive to maintain anyway, being an 80-year-old building, and Sox ownership figured out a way to make the state of Illinois to use taxes and bonds to pay for a new ballpark across the street. The time had come to say good-bye. The Sox did with a 2-1 victory against the Brewers.

Said manager Jeff Torborg in the Chicago Tribune the day before:

"There’s a lot of tradition in this place. I’m kind of a romantic anyway. ... The guys here now may not be thinking of the history. They're thinking about whether we’re going to win tomorrow. But it's nice to be a part of something. In some ways, it’s sad. But in other ways, it’s progress."

Tony La Russa might have the law degree, but Torborg has to be the most expressive White Sox manager ever. His postgame radio shows were better than the games sometimes.

7. Matt Davidson Dings Three Opening Day Dongs — March 29, 2018

Cubs' one-day legend Tuffy Rhodes gets most of the pub when it comes to having a three-homer day on Opening Day. But Matt Davidson of the White Sox did it in this millennium AND in March. Seriously, Davidson wore out Royals pitching in 2017-2018 to the point that it seemed every plate appearance would finish with him trotting around the bases. He went deep against three different pitchers, driving in five runs in the Sox's 14-7 victory. If only every game could have been against the Royals for Matt Davidson. That season he slashed .378/.462/.956 with eight homers and 14 RBIs in 12 games against the Royals. Overall, Davidson batted .228/.319/.419 with 20 homers in 123 games. As you saw in the video, only two other sluggers besides Matt and Tuffy ('94) ever went deep thrice on Opening Day: George Bell ('88) and Dmitri Young ('05).

8. White Sox raise championship banner after 88-year drought — April 2, 2006

The White Sox won the World Series and you lived long enough to see them raise a championship banner on the South Side. Great job, you.

9. South Side Hit Men Death Rattle — April 7, 1978

Taken in its entirety, the 1978 season stunk for the Sox. The team played almost nothing like it did the season before, when the South Side Hit Men revived interest in the Sox by slugging their way to 90 victories. In '78 there was no Richie Zisk and no Oscar Gamble, and the guys who replaced them, along with those left over, couldn't get it done. They lost 90 games. And with free agency not getting any cheaper, the results in '78 were an indication that Bill Veeck wasn't going to be around as the team's owner for much longer.

But: The '78 Sox did put on a heck of an Opening Day. With an overflow crowd of 50,754 jammed into old Comiskey, the Sox rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun the Red Sox for a 6-5 victory. Ron Blomberg, famous for being the first DH in big league history, returned from nearly three years away due to injuries and hit a tying home run against Dick Drago. Chet Lemon (whom the Sox never should have traded for Steve Kemp before the '82 season) hit a single and, with two outs, scored all of the way from first on Wayne Nordhagen's blooper. Comiskey went up for grabs. It was the worst lead the Red Sox would blow all season. Totally kidding, this was the Bucky Dent year. The Sox were feeling pretty good about themselves and won four of their first five games. But they started 9-20 in the grander scheme and Blomberg didn't have anything else left. They traded Bobby Bonds (after Bat Day) and they fired manager Bob Lemon (who went to the Yankees, thank you very much, leading them to a World Series title after leaving the Red Sox in their wake).

Ed Sherman had a good review of the opener published in the Trib in 2005 for some reason that included this irreplaceable piece of baseball wisdom: "It never is a good idea for a team to peak on Opening Day."

10. Mark Buehrle Flips Out Vs. Cleveland — April 5, 2010

There are a few different Mark Buehrle Opening Day moments to choose from, but this one against Cleveland (which was mentioned in our recrent all-time Buehrle post) is just too cool to ignore:

Best play ever by someone wearing a Sox uniform? It's all so subjective. Best play on Opening Day by someone wearing a Sox uniform? Show us a better one. Also: Sox won this game 6-0.

EXTRA! White Sox Sweep A's in Opening Doubleheader — April 7, 1971

Literally extra. The Sox had lost 106 games in 1970, so Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley probably scheduled a doubleheader to start his team's home season in order to get fat on the weaker team. It didn't work out, with the Sox taking both games. Never since has an MLB team started their season with a scheduled doubleheader. (The A's already had played their season opener at Washington.) The A's won 101 games in '71 and were surging toward their dynasty years. The Sox were starting a mini-renaissance.

READ ON: Mark Liptak in 2016 wrote this splendid remembrance of great White Sox openers. It includes games and details not covered here. It is worth your time.



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