clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Indians Opening Day history and record holders

A look back at the team's first 113 Opening Days...

Tom Szczerbowski

The Indians kick off their season tonight, with first pitch scheduled at the unfortunately late 10:05 ET. This is the 114th season in franchise history, meaning it's the 114th Opening Day. What follows is a look at some of what's come in the previous 113.

The Indians are 58-55 on Opening Day. 70 of those 113 games took place on the road, which works out to 62%. Given the weather this time of the year in Cleveland, waiting a few extra days for the first home game probably isn't the worst thing, but I wonder, has any other team has spent that many Opening Days on the road?

In 2012 the Indians lost 7-4 to Toronto in a game that took 16 innings, an MLB record for Opening Day.

The Indians' longest Opening Day winning streak is 5 games (1925-29, 1931-35, and 1951-55). Sadly, in the last 50 years, the Tribe has never won even 3 Opening Day games in a row, and the team is just 20-30 in the last half a century. The longest losing streak ever is 4 games (1969-72, 1979-82, 1990-93, 2003-06, 2009-12).


A total of 58 different pitchers have been given the honor of starting on Opening Day. Justin Masterson is set to make his third Opening Day start for the Tribe tonight.

Most Opening Day starts for the Indians:

  • Bob Feller: 7
  • Stan Coveleski: 6
  • Bob Lemon and CC Sabathia: 5
  • Addie Joss, Willie Mitchell, Gaylord Perry, and Charles Nagy: 4

Feller holds the franchise record for Opening Day wins, with 4. Coveleski, Lemon, and George Uhle each won 3. Feller and Jake Westbrook each lost 3 (and Jake only started 2). The Tribe's Opening Day record for saves is 1. 14 different players have done it, but none of them twice.

Feller also hold the record for total strikeouts (39) and walks (20), while Nagy holds the record for most home runs allowed (8).

UPDATED THROUGH 2014: 20 different pitchers have 15+ Opening Day innings for the Indians. Among that group the ERA leaders are Jim Bagby (0.53), Uhle (0.65), Masterson (0.86), and Feller (1.21).

For a single game, Gary Bell holds the record with 12 strikeouts (in 1960). A Tribe starter has recorded 10+ strikeouts five other times, including twice by Feller.

The Tribe's Opening Day starter went more than 9 innings five times, topped by Mel Harder, who pitched 14 innings in 1935.

There have been 9 Opening Day shutouts thrown by Indians:

  • Stan Coveleski (1920)
  • Bob Feller (1940)
  • Jim Bagby (1943)
  • Bob Feller (1946)
  • Bob Feller (1948)
  • Bob Lemon (1953)
  • Dick Donovan (1962)
  • Sonny Siebert (1968)
  • Bartolo Colon (2002)

Feller's shutout in 1940 was a no-hitter. It remains the only Opening Day no-hitter in MLB history.

Fausto Carmona allowed 10 runs in 2011, which is the most any Indian has ever allowed on Opening Day.


Terry Turner may have played in as many as 15 Opening Days for the franchise, but we don't have box scores for the first 13 games, so the total for players like Turner, Nap Lajoie, Jack Graney, and Steve O'Neill can only be guessed at. SInce 1914 the record is 11 games, by 7 different players, most recently Omar Vizquel.

The other records here are also for only 1914 on.

Omar Vizquel holds the records for plate appearances (55) and at bats (51). Asdrubal Cabrera is the only active member of the team with as many as 20 of either (28 PA, 27 AB).

Joe Sewell holds the record for hits (15), Sewell and Lou Boudreau each hit 4 doubles, Kenny Lofton hit 2 triples, and Cory Snyder hit 3 home runs (hey, some love for Cory Snyder!).

Joe Sewell, Earl Averill, and Manny Ramirez each had 10 RBI; Tris Speaker and Jim Thome each had 8 walks; Andre Thornton had 9 strikeouts.

37 different players have 25+ Opening Day PA. Among that group the batting average leaders are Ray Chapman and Bill Wambsganss (each at .417) and Joe Sewell (.405). The on-base percentage leaders are Sewell (.500), Larry Brown (.458), and Steve O'Neill (.455). The slugging percentage leaders are Julio Franco (.607), Sandy Alomar (.563), and Larry Brown (.550).

Dale Mitchell's 5 hits in 1950 are the team's Opening Day record. Duke Sims (1968), Juan Gonzalez (2001), and Travis Hafner (2004) each hit 2 home runs on Opening Day. Jim Thome walked 3 times in 1997, Max Alvis struck out 3 times in 1965.