SI Vault
 
INSIDE PITCH (April 8-14)
Henry Hecht
April 22, 1985
The first pitch of the season was four hours away, and Pete Rose, player, manager and living legend, was taking the cellophane wrapping off his new black bats. Ty Cobb was 94 hits away. "I did a banquet last night," Rose was saying, "the University of West Virginia basketball banquet in Morgantown. I talked about the Reds for 20 minutes, and by the time I got finished, I had those guys lined up to buy season tickets. Only problem is, it's a 300-mile drive."
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 22, 1985

Inside Pitch (april 8-14)

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

BALL PARK FIGURES
Here is how the major league teams have fared on Opening Days since 1901, the earliest year for which complete records are available. (The stats were provided by the National Baseball Library at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The lineage of each franchise was taken into account; the record of the A's, for instance, includes their performances in Oakland, Kansas City and Philadelphia.)

AL EAST

Orioles

47-37-1

.553

Indians

47-38

.553

Yankees

45-39-1

.529

Brewers

9-8

.529

Red Sox

40-44-1

.471

Tigers

40-44-1

.471

Blue Jays

2-7

.222

AL WEST

Mariners

7-2

.778

Royals

12-5

.706

Angels

15-10

.600

Twins

44-41

.518

White Sox

43-42

.506

A's

41-44

.482

Rangers

8-17

.320

NL EAST

Expos

10-7

.588

Mets

14-10

.583

Cubs

46-37-2

.541

Pirates

46-39

.541

Phillies

41-42-2

.482

Cardinals

35-48-2

.412

NL WEST

Padres

11-6

.647

Giants

47-37-1

.553

Dodgers

43-40-2

.506

Astros

12-12

.500

Reds

40-45

.471

Braves

35-49-1

.412

The first pitch of the season was four hours away, and Pete Rose, player, manager and living legend, was taking the cellophane wrapping off his new black bats. Ty Cobb was 94 hits away. "I did a banquet last night," Rose was saying, "the University of West Virginia basketball banquet in Morgantown. I talked about the Reds for 20 minutes, and by the time I got finished, I had those guys lined up to buy season tickets. Only problem is, it's a 300-mile drive."

Rose by himself would have been worth a 300-mile drive on Opening Day. He had two hits, including the game winner, and three RBIs as the Reds beat the Expos 4-1. From the very first play, a ground ball to Cincinnati first baseman Rose, the game belonged to Pete. In the fifth, he hit a two-run opposite-field double off Steve Rogers with two out to break a scoreless tie. For his 23 Opening Days, Rose, who turned 44 Sunday, has a batting average of .348.

Rose staged a clinic, too. In the fifth he purposely took a fat fastball down the middle as a lesson for his catcher, Dann Bilardello. Two innings before, Bilardello had chased a bad pitch and struck out for the second time in the game. Rose had a talk with him. "I told him, 'Three strikes you're out, like in the song. And I don't care if you strike out five times, you're still catching. You're going to see too many pitches to worry about one at bat. Relax and have fun.' " In his last two times up, Bilardello hit a hard ground ball and singled.

Afterward Rose said, "This was the kind of game I was looking for as a manager. We got three runs after two were out with nobody on and the pitcher batting. You don't see a lot of rallies like that. The game gave me a great feeling."

The day after Rose began his final countdown, Tom Seaver of the White Sox, still terrific after all these years, was in Milwaukee making history. Seaver, who is 40, was making his 15th Opening Day start, breaking the record he had shared with Walter Johnson. While Rose plays for fun, Seaver was all business.

"Pitching on any Opening Day is exciting, but the closer you get to game time, it's just another game," Seaver said as he played solitaire in the clubhouse. "You have to look at it in context. If I go out and get beat, big deal. It's a bag of worms. Stuff it."

Seaver stuffed the Brewers, shutting them out for six innings before tiring and leaving in the seventh. Chicago won 4-2 for Seaver's 289th win and his seventh on Opening Day against one loss. "To have done something no other pitcher has ever done is terrific," he said, "but the important part is getting your team started in the right direction."

He beat the Brewers with seven different pitches: four fastballs—cut, rising, sinking and sailing—a slider, a changeup and a blooping curve that has been timed at 39 mph. He also showed his age. After a tough sixth inning, Seaver retired the first two batters in the seventh, then gave up a single and a double and threw two wild pitches to score both runners. "I was hoping to get the last out, but I was gone," he said. "My legs were so tired. I don't throw three wild pitches in a year. Isn't that awful?"

Seaver is more worried about his place in the rotation than his place in history. "The record will mean more five years after I stop pitching," he said. "People want you to divide the present from the future, but I can't deal with the future when the present is all-consuming."

Mike Schmidt, the cleanup hitter for the Phillies, was kneeling in the on-deck circle. It was the top of the first in the Astrodome Saturday night. Von Hayes was hitting, Jeff Stone was on second, Juan Samuel was on first and not a soul was out. Schmidt must have been salivating. But, believe it or not, he led off the second inning even though Hayes walked. Here's what happened:

Continue Story
1 2