Opening day with Phil 'Knucksie' Niekro

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Photos Don Barone

“Got a beat-up glove, a home-made bat…”

Dateline: Opening Day #143 

“You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”
- Joe DiMaggio  

It was Saturday, April 22, 1876, weather records show it to be a “fair” day in Philadelphia, Penn. Newspaper records are sketchy, but sometime between 1 and 2 p.m. that day the very first pitch of the new National League was thrown.

And so began Opening Day of baseball in America.

Fitting it was to have occurred in the same city where only 100 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, our original Opening Day.

Some 3,000 fans came to the Jefferson Street Grounds to watch the hometown Philadelphia Athletics take on the Boston Red Caps. Philly lost 6-5 and finished the year with a 14 wins and 45 losses.

They’ve improved a bunch since then.