Opening Day is a special day for fans around the world, and it will remain that way this year — even if the coronavirus pandemic keeps many of us indoors.
On Thursday, Major League Baseball will present “Opening Day at Home” — a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms, including five classic games from Opening Days of the past, that will be shown in succession on MLB Network.
Here’s what will be on the network’s slate, beginning with Derek Jeter’s first Opening Day in 1996.
Opening Day classics — pregame show at 12:30 p.m. ET; Yankees vs. Indians (1996) at 1 p.m. ET
Though fans will certainly be missing the originally scheduled 2020 Opening Day programming, MLB Network will help fans relive some of the best moments from past season openers. The action begins with a half-hour pregame show followed by a star-studded 1996 matchup between the Yankees and Indians. While the Yankees' lineup featured the likes of Wade Boggs, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams, it was their No. 9 hitter who stole the show. Playing on his first Opening Day, Derek Jeter clubbed his first career home run in New York's 7-1 victory. The game also included David Cone facing a Cleveland lineup that included Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, Eddie Murray, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, among others.
Giants vs. Dodgers (2013) at 4 p.m. ET
Next up is Clayton Kershaw's historic performance in the Dodgers' 2013 season opener against the rival Giants. Though Kershaw was cruising through eight scoreless innings, he stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eighth with the game knotted at 0-0 — until he delivered his first and only career home run. Kershaw returned to the mound in the ninth to complete the shutout, becoming just the second pitcher in big league history, along with Bob Lemon in 1953, to toss a shutout and hit a homer on Opening Day.
Giants vs. D-backs (2017) at 6 p.m. ET
Madison Bumgarner turned in a notable Opening Day performance of his own four years later, though it was ultimately erased by an Arizona walk-off victory. Prior to the D-backs staging multiple rallies against the Giants' bullpen, however, Bumgarner hit not one, but two home runs in the season opener, including one off Zack Greinke. Bumgarner also struck out 11 batters over seven innings, but the D-backs scored a pair of runs in the ninth, capped off by a Chris Owings walk-off single.
Padres vs. Rockies (2005) at 9 p.m. ET
After watching Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner do their thing on the mound (and at the plate), it will be all about offense in the 2005 opener between the Padres and Rockies. The two clubs combined for 22 runs on 30 hits, including eight homers, in an Opening Day slugfest. Colorado jumped out to a four-run lead in the first inning, only to have San Diego rally for a 10-8 lead entering the ninth. The Rockies put up another four-spot in the final inning, highlighted by Clint Barmes' walk-off two-run homer to give Colorado a 12-10 victory.
Mets vs. Cubs (1994) at midnight ET
The Opening Day marathon will conclude with the Cubs' 1994 season opener against the Mets — or "The Tuffy Rhodes Game." Entering that day, Rhodes had hit just five career homers while appearing in 107 big league games over parts of four seasons with the Astros and Cubs. Yet on this day, with 1985 National League Cy Young Award winner Dwight Gooden on the mound, Rhodes went deep in each of his first three at-bats, all against Gooden. Rhodes, who would hit just five more home runs after that day, remains one of just four players all-time — and the only NL player — with three homers on Opening Day.