Top 10 Home Openers

By Chris Rewers on Monday, April 12, 2010

The Cubs will open their 135th home schedule and their 95th at Wrigley Field today.

It is just one of the 162 games on the team's schedule, but the home opener is special. It's one of the rare times that there is optimism in the air. It's a day when it's acceptable to ditch the office early or to cut a class.

Here's a look at the Cubs' 10 most exciting Wrigley Field openers:

10. April 20, 1916

Cubs 7, Reds 6

The Cubs limped home after a disappointing 2-4 road trip, but were welcomed at their new North Side home by new owner Charles Weeghman and a sellout crowd of 20,000. The festivities began at Grant Park with a parade to the ballpark that included players from both teams, Mayor William Thompson and Gov. Edward F. Dunne, 10 motorcycle police, and six brass bands.

Pregame ceremonies included a donkey and a black bear cub that the Chicago Tribune reported performed "tricks in front of the movie camera." A canon-fired a 21-shell salute and an American flag was raised.

As for the game, new manager Joe Tinker pulled out all the stops. He used 17 players and the Cubs claimed a 7-6 victory.

9. April 12, 1965

Cubs 10, Cardinals 10 (11 innings)

There are ties in baseball.

In a game that was called after 11 innings because of darkness, Cubs shortstop Roberto Pena was the hero and the goat.

Pena who was making his major league debut went 3-for-6 with a homer and two-run double. He also made three errors, including a pair of dropped popups.

Lou Brock's RBI single gave the Cardinals a 10-9 lead in the top of the 11th, but Ron Santo's double in the bottom of the frame drove in Pena to once again tie the game.

"It looks like we're going to have some excitement with this fellow (Pena)," Cubs head coach Bob Kennedy said.

Unfortunately, Pena hit just .218 and committed 17 errors before relinquishing his starting role to fellow rookie Don Kessinger on June 6.

8. April 4, 1994

Mets 12, Cubs 8

In what amounted to his 10 minutes of fame, outfielder Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes homered in his first three at-bats off Mets starter Dwight Gooden. The Mets however belted out 16 hits, including home runs by Jose Vizcaino, Todd Hundley, and Jeff Kent.

It was all downhill from there for Rhodes and the Cubs. Rhodes hit just .234 and managed just five homers the rest of the season. The Cubs lost their first 12 games at Wrigley Field and did not claim a home win until May 4.

7. April 10, 2000

Cubs 4, Braves 3

The Cubs headed to the bottom of the ninth trailing the defending National League champion Braves 3-0, but rallied with four runs to claim a dramatic victory. Shane Andrews tied the game with a three-run homer and Jeff Reed won it with an RBI single.

6. April 3, 1998

Cubs 6, Expos 2

Steve Trachsel pitched 7 1/3 innings of four-hit ball while also collecting two hits and driving in three runs. An emotional Dutchie Caray was the guest conductor for the seventh-inning stretch weeks after the passing of her husband, Harry.

5. April 1, 1996

Cubs 5, Padres 4 (10 innings)

San Diego's Wally Joyner doubled in the tying run off new Cubs closer Doug Jones in the top of the ninth, but Mark Grace singled in the game-winner for the North Siders in the 10th. Rey Sanchez and Scott Servais each contributed a two-run homer for the Cubs.

4. April 14, 1978

Cubs 5, Pirates 4

Larry Biittner led off the bottom of the ninth with a homer to snap a 4-4 tie and send a Wrigley home opener crowd of 45,777 into a frenzy.

3. April 4, 1989

Cubs 5, Phillies 4

New Cubs closer Mitch Williams was called upon in the ninth to protect a 5-4 lead, but the Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to singles by Bob Dernier, Tommy Herr, and Von Hayes. Williams, however, responded with strikeouts of Mike Schmidt, Chris James, and Mark Ryal.

2. April 6, 1971

Cubs 2, Cardinals 1 (10 innings)

Fergie Jenkins allowed just three hits over 10 innings and earned the complete-game victory after Billy Williams homered off Bob Gibson in the bottom of the 10th.

1. April 8, 1969

Cubs 7, Phillies 6 (11 innings)

With his 73-year-old father on hand, Ernie Banks hit a three-run homer in the first and a two-run shot in the third to stake Jenkins a 5-1 lead, but the Cubs ace faltered.

Don Money's three-run homer off Jenkins in the ninth tied the game and Money's RBI double in the 11th off reliever Phil Regan put the Phillies in front, 6-5.

But Randy Hundley reached base with a one-out single in the bottom of the 11th and set the stage for a dramatic two-run pinch-hit homer by Willie Smith.

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