Opening Day 1936! Part 1

April 14, 1936 – Major league baseball triumphantly returned throughout the country today, with all teams in both leagues seeing action.

In The Nation’s Capital:  Capacity Crowd Sees Yanks Top Senators 8-6 in 14 Inning Marathon Contest. The Yanks squared off against the Senators before a crowd of 31,000 spectators who packed Washington’s Griffith Stadium and included a healthy contingent of both notable and notorious politicians taking early leave from their offices to see and be seen.

Greeting both teams and the throngs of spectators was the politician in chief, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who just the day before day gave a speech before the Young Democrats in Baltimore that many saw as marking an opening day of another sort –  the President’s 1936 re-election campaign.   Hours before, in his own opening day salvo, the President dispatched, mostly with studied indifference, recent barrages of criticism leveled by his predecessor that business fears of creeping Roosevelt socialism and experimentation in 1932 were the real responsible causes for the protracted economic depression the country was still facing today.  But today the president seemed intent on accomplishing only two things – fulfilling an annual rite of Spring, tossing out the first ball, and enjoying a day at the ballpark.

 Arriving at the stadium and entering the field of play in the presidential limousine  to enthusiastic cheers, the President took his box close to the dugout on the first base side.  That his toss went wide of the mark, eluding the gathered players from both teams, was duly noted but not of abiding concern.  With that, the President and the capacity crowd settled in for a competitive and entertaining game that proved to pack  more baseball into the opening day outing than people bargained for.

 It looked like New York would be cruising to an opening day victory as the Yanks headed into the seventh inning stretch with a comfortable lead that had just been extended to 6-0 on a Lou Gehrig 2-run homer in the front part of that inning. But then things unraveled for Yanks’ starter Red Ruffing and got the excitement going for the hometown crowd.   After striking out Senator shortstop Cecil Travis to start the inning, Ruffing quickly loaded the bases with the next three batters, walking Bolton  and yielding  back-to back singles to Bliege and Newsom.  He then gave a pass to Chapman, to walk in the Senators’s first run of the game. Yanks’ shortstop Lazzeri gifted the Senators their next run, booting a grounder that could have ended the inning in a double play but instead kept the bases loaded for Senator left fielder John Stone.  Taking Ruffing long into the count, Stone placed a hanging curve over the left field fence for a grand slam, squaring up the game for  the Senators. It could have been worse for the Yanks.  Ruffing fostered Senator hopes with the next two batters, yielding his third walk of the inning to Kuehl and a single to Travis in his second trip to the plate that inning, before escaping further carnage by getting Bolton to end the inning on a fly to center.

 In a remarkable show of patience and faith, Yanks’ Manager McCarthy left the ball in the hands of his starter through the next two innings and through the first inning of overtime play.  He was rewarded by the choice, Ruffing giving up scattered hits but no further runs through ten innings. 

 The teams settled in for three more innings of overtime play until the top of the 14th, when Yankee bats signaled the Washington crowd that it was time to put a close to the opening day outing.  The end came in workmanlike fashion, with Gehrig kicking off the inning with a single to right.  The Senators quickly saw runners on second and third, after reliever Russell yielded a walk to Yanks’ catcher Bill Dickey and DiMaggio grounded to second, placing the Yankee tie-breaking run ninety feet from home.  New York right fielder George Selkirk got the job done on the next  bat, hitting a sacrifice fly to deep right center, that allowed Gehrig to trot in for the tie-breaker.  Capping an impressive offensive outing for the day (3 for 6, 3 RBIs), Red Rolfe batted in an insurance run with his third hit of the day.

The two run lead proved to  be a sufficient margin for the Yanks, though the Senators made reliever Ted Kleinhan work for the save in the bottom frame of the 14th, when Reynolds smashed a lead off double and, following a fly out by Stone to left,  Kuehl came aboard first for the tying run after being hit by a pitch.  Kleinhan’s next pitch produced the merciful end, when Cecil Travis drove it into the hands of shortstop Lazzeri  who flipped it to Crossetti to turn  a game ending double play.

Newspapermen noted with amazement that FDR was one of the few politician-spectators  remaining at the park to witness the game ending play.

          R H E
36 NewYork 010 000 041 6 10 2
36 Washin. 141 110 01- 9 14 0

 

36 NewYork AB R H B W K
8 Powell 5 1 1 0 2 1
6 Crosetti 5 1 2 1 2 0
3 Gehrig 6 2 2 2 1 1
2 Dickey 4 1 1 0 3 0
7 DiMaggio 7 1 1 0 0 1
9 Selkirk 4 1 0 1 2 0
5 Rolfe 6 1 3 3 1 2
4 Lazzeri 6 0 1 1 1 2
1 R.Ruffing 5 0 0 0 0 1
  Hoag 0 0 0 0 1 0

Errors:         Crosetti      (1)     Doubles:         Crosetti      (1)         Rolfe                (2)  Home   Runs:     Gehrig         (1)         Stolen         Bases:       Crosetti      (1)  Rolfe            (1)                  Caught        Stealing:    Powell              (3)  Double  Play:    1   LOB:      12

Pitcher IP H R ER BB SO
R.Ruffing 10 10 6 1 5 2
Malone 2 0 0 0 0 1
Kleinhan W(1-0) 2 1 0 0 1 0
 HBP: Kleinhan(Kuhel)         
36 Washin. AB R H B W K
8 Chapman 6 1 1 1 1 0
9 Reynolds 7 1 2 0 0 0
7 Stone 6 1 1 4 1 1
3 Kuhel 5 0 1 0 1 0
6 Travis 7 0 2 0 0 1
2 Bolton 5 1 0 0 1 0
5 Lewis 6 0 1 0 0 0
4 Bluege 4 1 1 0 2 0
1 Newsom 3 1 2 0 0 0
  Hogan 1 0 0 0 0 0
  Coppola 1 0 0 0 0 1
  Hill 1 0 0 0 0 0
Errors:         Lewis           (1)                  Doubles:    Chapman   (1)                  Reynolds   (1)                  Travis           (1)                  Home          Runs:            Stone           (1)                  Stolen         Bases:                        Stone           (1)                  Double       Play:             1  LOB:        11                 
Pitcher IP H R ER BB SO
Newsom 8 9 6 6 6 8
Coppola 5 0 0 0 6 0
Russell L (0-1) 1 2 2 2 1 0
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