Hitting a round tripper on Opening Day, like hitting one in the World Series or an All-Star Game, is not considered unusual, but doing it more than once is noteworthy in some respects. In the ninth inning of Tuesday afternoon’s 6-2 win for Boston over Cleveland, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit what proved to be his fifth career home run on Opening Day, his third with the Red Sox after hitting two with the Minnesota Twins earlier in his career. After what was a quiet spring (4-for-35 with three extra base hits), the sight of him launching one into the bleachers was a welcome sight to Red Sox fans looking for a positive start to the 2016 season.
The home run also proved to be number 504 in Big Papi’s career, which ties him with Eddie Murray for 26th all-time in MLB history. After Murray, his next target on the all-time list would be Gary Sheffield (509), followed by Mel Ott (511), Ernie Banks (512) and Eddie Matthews (also 512). He now also has 446 home runs with the Red Sox, which puts him six behind Carl Yastrzemski for second place (452) and well behind Ted Williams with 521, whom he has a chance to catch only in the career total category.
How to determine the franchise record for Opening Day home runs depends on how you define the criteria. In terms of home run totals, use of the Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com (purchase a subscription if you don’t already have one) reveals the following:
|Rk||Player||IND. Games||HR TOTAL|
Yaztrzemski and Evans are tied at the top for home runs hit on five separate Opening Days, but Yaz bests Dewey by one in the total home run department thanks to two home runs hit in the opener in 1968 versus the Detroit Tigers. Likewise, Pedroia is currently tied with three others players (Williams, Rice, and Ortiz) with home runs in three individual openers, but he has four total courtesy of the two he hit in last year’s opener in Philadelphia versus the Phillies.
Other players who have hit home runs for the Red Sox on different Opening Days include Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, Tim Naehring, Jackie Jensen, Bobby Doerr, and Tony Conigliaro.
For the curious, the major league record in terms of home run totals across multiple Opening Day contests is eight, held by Frank Robinson (eight individual games), Ken Griffey Jr. (seven games), and Adam Dunn (six games).