Today is the 100th anniversary of the first exhibition game at the new Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on April 5, 1913. Outfielder Casey Stengel, who later became a Hall of Fame manager, hit the first home run, an inside-the-park shot against the New York Yankees.
April 4, 1988 – Steve Sax hit a leadoff home run in the first inning on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, but Los Angeles loses 5-1 against San Francisco. Left-hander Dave Dravecky allowed just two more hits en route to the complete-game victory. It was the final career Opening Day assignment for Fernando Valenzuela, who started six of eight openers between 1981 and 1988.
The Dodgers opened the 2001 season with a 1-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium. Right-hander Chan Ho Park pitched six scoreless innings and Gary Sheffield provided the only offense with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning off Milwaukee starter Jamey Wright.
April 1, 1996 – The Dodgers opened the season in Houston and Los Angeles defeated the Astros, 4-3. Ramon Martinez, making his third Opening Day start, scattered three runs in six innings. Outfielder Todd Hollandsworth begins his National League Rookie of the Year campaign with two hits and three RBI.
March 30, 1981 – During the final week of spring training, the Dodgers acquired center fielder Ken Landreaux from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for infielder Mickey Hatcher and two minor leaguers. Landreaux was coming off an All-Star season with Minnesota in 1980, which included a 31-game hitting streak. Landreaux, who batted .263 in 868 games with Los Angeles through 1987, caught the final out of the 1981 World Series against the Yankees, a flyout by Bob Watson to clinch the Dodgers’ 9-2 victory in Game 6.
March 28, 1970 – An exhibition game with stars from various Major League teams is staged at Dodger Stadium in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The “East-West Classic” features former Yankees great Joe DiMaggio as manager of the East, and former catcher Roy Campanella pilots the West squad. Jim “Mudcat” Grant performed the National Anthem. The game drew 31,694 fans and proceeds went to Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a memorial center planned in Atlanta.
March 27, 1917 – For an upcoming exhibition game with the Boston Red Sox in Memphis, TN, Brooklyn owner Charlies Ebbets suggests both teams wear numbers on their uniform sleeves because fans in the non-Major League city might not be familiar with the players, even though Brooklyn and Boston met in the 1916 World Series. Brooklyn will add numbers to its uniforms in 1932.
March 26, 1963 – In an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sandy Koufax allows six runs, including home runs by Roberto Clemente and Donn Clendenon, and strikes out nine batters in seven innings. Koufax missed most of the second half of the 1962 season due to circulatory problems in his left index finger. But Koufax will return to full strength and embark on a 25-win campaign during the 1963 season en route to the first of his three Cy Young Awards.
March 25, 1917 – In a rematch of the 1916 World Series, Brooklyn beats the Boston Red Sox, 11-2, in an exhibiton game. Boston’s Babe Ruth allows just one hit in four innings against the Robins. Ruth was the pitching star of the 1916 Fall Classic with a complete-game 2-1 victory in 14 innings in Game 2 at Braves Field in Boston.
March 20, 1934 – Mildred “Babe” Didrickson, the famous all-around female athlete who won two gold medals in track at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and later became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, pitched the first inning for the Philadelphia Athletics in a spring exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. She walked one batter, but gave up no hits.