Opening Day: A bit of history and a collection of baseball movies

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | 6:00 p.m. CDT

A new ballpark, a new team name and the defending World Series champions. That is what Opening Day in Major League Baseball has to offer.

Except Opening Day is now really more of a trickle.

Major League Baseball markets Wednesday night's game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins as Opening Night and Thursday as Opening Day. However, two teams — the Oakland A's and the Seattle Mariners — played a two-game series March 28 and 29 in Japan, while some teams such as the Kansas City Royals don't start regular season play until Friday.

The Cardinals play just one game against the Miami Marlins (formerly known as the Florida Marlins) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the brand new Marlins Park. The Marlins then head to Cincinnati to play the Reds on Thursday, while the Cardinals travel to Milwaukee to play the Brewers on Friday.

Opening Day has usually been kind to the Cardinals. In the history of Opening Day games, the team is 71-59 overall, according to Baseball Almanac. However, the Cardinals have lost four of the last five Opening Day games. Last season the Cardinals lost at home to the San Diego Padres 5-3 in 11 innings.

The other Missouri major league team — the Kansas City Royals — has had a recent streak of rough Opening Day games; the team has lost five of the last seven. However, if the Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night, they will even out their Opening Day record, which is currently 21-22.

Both the Cardinals and Royals have their home openers on April 13.

Presidential presence on Opening Day

The history of U.S. presidents participating in Opening Day dates back to 1910, when President William Taft became the first president to throw out the Opening Day pitch in Washington, D.C.

The first president to attend a baseball game was President Benjamin Harrison on June 6, 1896. Since then, many sitting presidents have thrown out the ceremonial pitch at Opening Day, All-Star and World Series games. The last president to throw out the Opening Day pitch was President Barack Obama in 2010. As of now, there have been no reports of Obama throwing out an Opening Day pitch this year.

Movies to get you in the baseball mood

Bring the players, peanuts and Cracker Jacks to a small screen near you with this collection of classic baseball movies. We invite you to vote for your favorite. Scroll down for trailers from each.

Major League

At the beginning of the season every team has the same record. However, not every team is created equal. When the owner tries to purposely make the team worse so it can relocate, the players are inspired to win after finding out about the plan. (If you're a fan of the Major League series, you should also know that the Missourian's sports editor, Greg Bowers, makes an appearance as a sports reporter in Major League II.)


The Sandlot

Baseball can bring together people of every age. In this early '90s comedy, Scotty Smalls moves to a new neighborhood where the star baseball kid brings him into his social circle and teaches him how to play the game. His new group of friends goes on mischievous adventures that usually involve baseball and sometimes include the phrase, “You’re killing me Smalls!”


Field of Dreams

If you heard a voice that said, “If you build it, he will come,” what would you do? An Iowa farmer — played by Kevin Costner — decided to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. After that, mysterious events ensue that only appear if you believe.


Bull Durham

Romance can be tricky, and it can be trickier when an odd number of people are involved. In this comedy Kevin Costner plays an experienced minor league catcher who has to develop the star rookie pitcher. Both players develop a relationship with the same local fan. (This movie isn't exactly appropriate for general newspaper audiences, so we chose the made-for-TV trailer to include here.)


The Stratton Story

This movie is a good example of why modern-day sports contracts have specific clauses. In a bizarre hunting accident, star pitcher Marty Stratton loses his leg. Still, that doesn't stop him from playing baseball.


The Babe Ruth Story

This movie from 1948 is about the life and baseball career of The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth. If you're a fan of the "called shot," this movie might be for you.


Eight Men Out

This movie takes you back to the days when players weren't making millions of dollars. A great team with players struggling to make enough money takes bribes to throw the World Series, which ultimately gave the team the "Black Sox" nickname.


A League of Their Own

The story of a women's professional baseball league funded by a candy manufacturer, with Tom Hanks as one of the managers. Also starring Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna.


The Natural

Robert Redford, Glenn Close and Kim Basinger star in this baseball thriller about a underrated player. If you have seen this movie, you know not to bet against the cast.

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Derek Klein April 5, 2012 | 11:54 a.m.

The race for the title of Missourian readers' favorite baseball movie is a close one. Four of the movies included in the poll are in a tight race for the lead. "Field of Dreams" leads the way with 10 votes thus far. "The Sandlot" and "The Natural" are not far behind with 9 votes each. "A League of Their Own" comes in fourth place with 8 votes. Write-in candidate "The Rookie" has made some noise with 4 votes. The same poll has a different outlook on the Missourian's Facebook page. "The Sandlot" leads the way with 15 votes, and write-in candidate "Angels in the Outfield" sits in second with 12 votes. Leader of the Missourian's website poll, "Field of Dreams", has received 9 votes so far, which is good enough for third place. Both polls remain open so be sure to cast your vote for your favorite baseball movie.

Derek Klein
Community outreach team member
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Karen Mitchell April 5, 2012 | 12:41 p.m.

Field of Dreams, all the way! But, I do have a soft spot for Angels in the Outfield. And A League of Their Own highlights an important time in our history. All good choices.

(Report Comment)

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