Opening Day, 1919

Ollie O’Mara at bat for Brooklyn

It’s Opening Day for the 2019 season (I don’t count the 2 games in Tokyo). As I normally do, I take the occasion to look back 100 years. This year it’s 1919, a year of infamy.

Opening Day in 1919 was 19 April, a Saturday. The only games played on that date were a double-header between the Brooklyn Robins (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) and the Boston Braves (now setting up shop in Atlanta). Brooklyn won both, 5-2 and 3-2. Leon Cadore and Jeff Pfeffer were the winnings pitchers (in order) with Dick Rudolph and Pat Ragan taking the losses (again in that order). All but Ragan pitched complete games. In game one Ivy Olson hit the season’s first double and Hall of Famer Zack Wheat had the season’s first triple. Boston left fielder Joe Kelly had the year’s first stolen base. Boston’s first sacker Jimmy Johnston was the first batter of the season. Brooklyn third baseman Ollie O’Mara went 0 for 3 in game one, 0 for 4 in game two, reached base on a sacrifice and scored a run in game two. It was his last game in the Major Leagues. Over six years he hit .231/.280/.279/.559 with two home runs, 46 stolen bases, 77 RBIs, 166 runs scored, and more strikeouts than walks, and OPS+ of 68 and -0.8 WAR.

There were no games in the American League. They began play on the 23rd with the big news being a 13-4 rout by the White Sox over the Browns. Lefty Williams of Black Sox infamy got the win with six of the Black Sox (including Williams) playing (Fred McMullin and Eddie Cicotte sat it out). Buck Weaver was the hitting star with four hits and three runs scored. Back east, Boston shut out the Yankees 10-0 with left fielder Babe Ruth slugging the league’s first home run of the season in the first with a man on (yep, he hit it against the Yanks).

At this point the eventual National League champion Reds were in second place with the White Sox tied (with Boston ) for first in the American League. No one yet knew they would meet in the World Series and change baseball forever.

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3 Responses to “Opening Day, 1919”

  1. Miller Says:

    How 1919 to start the season with a double dip!

    I think this is the first time I’ve heard Leon Cadore’s name not associated with Joe Oeschger and the 26-inning classic.

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    If the doubleheader was in Brooklyn, would not be surprised if a kid named Bobby Slotkin was at the game after playing hooky from school with some friends and snuck in to watch that doubleheader! (Unless he already dropped out and was working by then.) He would have been 13 years old, I think, and boy did he love those Dodgers! (or Robins or whatever). He was a member of a street gang, so maybe he went to Ebbetts Field with them. What kid could resist an opening day doubleheader? Wow!) I wish I had asked Grandpa more about his childhood in relation to baseball.

  3. glenrussellslater Says:

    By urge way, V, this morning on my own blog, Tall Tales and True Stories, I wrote about Ernest Tubb and his music. I guess that in my next post after that, I’ll write about his great band the Texas Troubadors as well. Just giving you a heads up on that as I know you like Tubb!

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