Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baseball's Opening Day Celebrated in Seven Cities

The bats are finally swinging and balls flying as the 1911 Major League baseball season finally got underway yesterday. At newly renovated National Park in Washington, President Taft threw out the first ball from his box in the grandstands to Nationals opening day pitcher "Dolly" Gray, the second consecutive year the chief executive has done that. Opening day brought a record crowd to the new steel-and-concrete stadium constructed in the three weeks since a fire destroyed the old, wooden grandstands on March 17. The Washington Herald noted the "grand principle of equality demonstrated by the mixture of statesmen, millionaires, social favorites with the humble citizen and ne'er-do-well." While the official attendance number around 16,000, thousands more were perched on nearby rooftops to join in the holiday atmosphere. Among the many baseball at the stadium was American League president Ban Johnson, who had come to see the new concrete grandstands.

The Washington Nationals overcame a 4-0 deficit against the visiting Boston Red Sox after four innings to rally with six run sixth inning and win 8-5.

A major cause of excitement for Washington baseball fans was Walter Johnson, who was in uniform for the Nationals but is not expected for several days in order to recover from his train ride from Kansas. Johnson, who had held out for more money in contract negotiations with the team, agreed after the game to a three-year contract worth $7,000 per year, $500 more than the previous offer made by club management. This is the highest salary currently paid out to an American League pitcher. Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox currently earns $6,000 per year and is the next highest paid pitcher. The highest paid player in the American League is Ty Cobb, earning $9,000 per year.

Elsewhere around the American League on Opening Day: the New York Yankees defeated the defending World Series champion Athletics in Philadelphia 2-1 and the St. Louis Browns pounded the Cleveland Naps with 16 hits and won 12-3. The game scheduled in Detroit between the Tigers and the Chicago White Sox was rained out, delay opening day for the best player in baseball, Ty Cobb. Over in the National League, the Boston Terriers won their opener 2-1 against the visiting Brooklyn Superbas, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals played to a 3-3 tie after 11 innings in the Windy City, the New York Giants were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 at the Polo Grounds, and the Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the Cincinnati Reds 14-0.

Link: Baseball Season Opens in Seven Cities with One Hundred and Thirty-Six Thousand on Hand [The New York Tribune]
Link: Thousands see Opening Day Game and Victory [The Washington Herald]

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