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The Hopes and Expectations of Baseball Fans on Opening Day Withstands the Test of Time

April 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 209

Nothing arouses optimism and heightens expectations for baseball fans at the dawning of a new season than hoping to see an immediate contribution to their favorite team from a new player acquired during the off-season. From baseball generation to baseball generation, feelings of expectation and hope on opening day have been experienced by fans generated by their team's new acquisition. As the 2012 baseball season begins, fans in Los Angeles will be anxiously expecting immediate production from new Angel Albert Pujois and Tiger fans in Detroit will be anticipating the same from their new first baseman Prince Fielder. This is no different than the fan hopes and expectations on opening day for 3 teams from past baseball generations.

Chicago White Sox (1956) - In their continual attempt to catch the New York Yankees, who had won the American League pennant 6 of the previous 7 years, the White Sox obtained future Hall of Famer Larry Doby from the Cleveland Indians after the 1955 season. Doby, the first African American to play in the American League, was a six-time All-Star. He was 32 years old, but still hit 26 home runs in 1955; more than any White Sox. Chicago fans were hoping Doby could be the slugger the team so desperately needed and he met those expectations by leading the team in home runs (24) and runs batted in (102). However, the White Sox finished in 3rd place, 5 games behind the pennant winning Yankees. In 1957, despite showing signs of Father Time's arrival, Doby was the team's home run co-leader with 14; but the White Sox finished 2nd to the Yankees and he was traded after the season.

New York Yankees (1960) - By mid-June of the 1959 season, the Yankees were in 5th place, 2 games under.500. The franchise that had won 9 pennants and 7 World Series since 1949 needed an infusion of younger talent that their minor league system was too slowly producing. Yankee fans expected changes after seeing the team finish in third place. The Yankees obtained twenty-five year old Roger Maris from the Kansas City A's after the season. An All-Star in 1959, Maris had hit 35 home runs in his two years with the A's. The Yankees literally stole him giving the A's in exchange 2 older players and 2 still developing prospects. Maris immediately began fulfilling the hope of Yankee fans by hitting 2 home runs against the Red Sox in Boston on the season's opening day. He hit 39 home runs that year and 61 the next; winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award both years. Along with Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, Maris powered the Yankees the next 5 years to 5 American League pennants and 2 World Series Championships.

St. Louis Cardinals (1962 & 1963) - With their future Hall of Famer Stan Musial approaching retirement, the St. Louis Cardinals made two unsuccessful attempts to bolster their outfield. After the 1961 season, they traded long time Cardinal Joe Cunningham to the Chicago White Sox for 7- time All-Star Minnie Minoso. Although 36, Minoso in 1961 had hit.280 with 14 home runs and 82 runs batted in and the Cardinals hoped he would produce those numbers for them in 1962. But Minoso broke his wrist and played in only 39 games; and was traded after the season. Before the 1963 season the Cardinals traded Larry Jackson, their most consistent pitcher for the previous 6 years to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder George Altman. An All-Star the previous 2 seasons averaging 24 home runs, Altman was the type of hitter Cardinal fans hoped would add power to their team's line-up. However, Altman only hit 9 home runs for the Cardinals that year and was then traded.

Players change and teams change from baseball generation to generation, but the opening day hopes and expectations of fans remain the same; withstanding the tests of time.

Kevin Mitchell is a sports history blogger and writes articles on African American sports for Contact him at or

Source: EzineArticles
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Baseball Opening Day


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