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Memorable Yankees Opening Day games

Mariano Duncan steps out of the batters box

Mariano Duncan steps out of the batters box because he has snow in his eyes in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on  April 9, 1996.  Credit: AP/MARK LENNIHAN

From Babe Ruth to Bob Sheppard to Derek Jeter, the Yankees have had many memorable season and home openers. Here are 10 of the best: 

1. 1923 – Yankee Stadium opens in front of the largest crowd to ever see a baseball game – announced as more than 74,000 but believed to be closer to 65,000. Babe Ruth hits a three-run homer in a 4-1 win over the Red Sox and the stadium officially is christened “The House That Ruth Built” by sportswriter Fred Lieb.

2. 1996 – Rookie shortstop Derek Jeter, batting ninth in his first Opening Day, homers and makes a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch of a pop-up in short leftfield as the Yankees beat the Indians in frigid Cleveland, 7-1. Jeter went on to ... well, you know the rest.

3. 1996 (home opener) – The snow game. The Yankees beat the Royals, 7-3, in a game that was played during persistent snow flurries. The image of Andy Pettitte pitching with snowflakes falling around him and the brim of his cap pulled down to his eyes always will endure.

4. 1978 (home opener) – Roger Maris, who had been estranged from the Yankees, returned. Maris and Mickey Mantle raised the 1977 World Series championship banner in centerfield before the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the White Sox.

5. 2003 (home opener) – Japanese star Hideki Matsui, the big free-agent signing of the offseason, hit a fifth-inning grand slam in his first game at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees beat the Twins, 7-3.

6. 1998 (home opener) – The Yankees outslugged the A’s, 17-13, in a game that featured 32 hits, just one of them a home run. Tino Martinez hit a three-run homer for the Yankees in the third inning. The game took 4:06.

7. 1973 – The Yankees opened with an unmemorable 15-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. What was memorable, though, was a first-inning walk to Ron Blomberg, the Yankees' designated hitter. That was the first plate appearance by a DH in baseball history.

8. 1981 – Fan favorite Bobby Murcer, who had been traded away from the Yankees in 1974 and reacquired in 1979, hit a pinch-hit grand slam as the Yankees beat Texas, 10-3, at Yankee Stadium. Murcer retired in 1983 and went on to become a folksy and beloved Yankees announcer.

9. 1951 – The 44,860 fans at Yankee Stadium for the Yankees’ 5-0 win over the Red Sox got to see future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Ted Williams. They also got to listen to “The Voice of God” – Bob Sheppard. It was the Yankees public address announcer’s first Opening Day. His final game came on Sept. 5, 2007.

10. 1929 – The Yankees beat the visiting Red Sox, 7-3, in the first game that featured a team wearing permanent uniform numbers. The Yankees’ numbers corresponded to the batting order, with leadoff man Earle Combs wearing No. 1, Babe Ruth No. 3 and Lou Gehrig No. 4, for example.

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