Mr. March?

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Left over from Opening Day —

This season, the White Sox opened at home on March 31. Prior to expansion in 1961, teams played a 154-game season and Opening Day was in the middle of April. E.g. Last month, MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, which was the Dodgers’ Opening Day in 1947.

Even now, depending on how the calendar falls, Opening Day is usually in the first week of April. Still, I was surprised to see that the first March home run wasn’t until the 1990’s.

In 1961, a balanced schedule was very important to MLB. So, while the expanded AL played 162 games that year, the NL still played 154 and didn’t move to 162 until the Mets and Colt 45’s were added in 1962.

Last year, there was one March (31st) game as the Astros were welcomed to the American League in a game vs. the Texas Rangers. There was one homer in that game by Houston pinch hitter Rick Ankiel. It was Houston’s 4,000 win.

Of course, international openers in recent years have made for some very early opening dates. This year, there were a couple Dodgers-Diamondbacks games played in Australia, resulting in a March 22nd opener.

MLB had opening day games in 1999 and 2001 in Mexico and Puerto Rico respectively, but those were short trips and the games were played in April. In 2000, the Cubs and Mets opened in Tokyo (Robin Ventura played 3B for the Mets), and MLB has been back with an opening series every four years since then.

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