Yankees’ road trip success make for an even more special Bronx opener

It will be cloudy at the big ballpark in The Bronx, but that’s only for now. Fifteen years from now, 25 years from now, your memory will lie, because that’s what the first day of a home baseball calendar always does. Sometimes it really does rain for the home opener. Once, in 1996, it snowed so much, it looked like Lambeau Field.

Doesn’t matter. The home opener is always about rebirth, about renewal, about shaking off the winter even if the mercury barely makes it north of freezing. The Yankees have won 27 championships, but today will be their 126th home opener, which means that 99 times the day’s greatest gift is to wash away whatever disappointment ended the year before.

Except this one’s different.

This time, the Yankees come home with seven games under their belt, and they have won six of them. The Yankees have been in business in New York City since 1903 and they have never kicked off the home portion of the schedule with such a running head start. Around half of those years, of course, the record is 0-0 when they take the field at Yankee Stadium.

This time, it’s 6-1. They’ve never been 6-1 for a home opener. They went 5-1 in 2003, blitzing through Toronto and Tampa Bay before bulldozing the Twins at home, on the way to 101 wins and Game 6 of the World Series, and in 1928 they also started 5-1, jump-starting their third world championship season with a triumphant tour of Philly and Boston.


New York Yankees' Alex Verdugo (24) reacts after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the tenth inning at Chase Field in Phoenix on April 3, 2024.
New York Yankees’ Alex Verdugo reacts after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the tenth inning at Chase Field in Phoenix on April 3, 2024. Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

(They also went 4-1 in front of empty houses in Washington and Baltimore during the COVID year of 2020, but like everything else from that year it’s best just to forget.)  

“In the grand scheme of things, a week doesn’t really do too much when it’s a whole 162 games,” said Alex Verdugo, the left fielder who had such an impactful trip for the Yankees on both sides of the ball. “But to start off this week like this and to keep the momentum going is huge. Everybody in here knows we’re talented, knows what we can do.”


Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo, left,center fielder Aaron Judge, right rear, and right fielder Juan Soto celebrate
Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo, left,center fielder Aaron Judge, right rear, and right fielder Juan Soto celebrate a win over the Astros. AP

This will be Verdugo’s first home opener at Yankee Stadium, and his reasonable and reasoned take on the hot start bespeaks a team that isn’t nearly as surprised by the season’s beginning as some of their fans seem to be. He’ll see. He’ll learn. Players play Opening Days every year, maybe as many as two or three of them depending on how the schedule breaks.

It’s different in The Bronx.

It’s different at Yankee Stadium.

Some years, the day is practically a secular day of obligation because the Yankees raise a fresh pennant to the highest reaches of the Stadium. Those are always the best versions of this day. But even if it’s been 14 years since that was the featured attraction — April 13, 2010, a 7-5 win over the Angels that followed the ascent of the 2009 World Series flag — it is still a day like no other.

There is still an array of stars, of old friends, of forever names. For years the featured attraction was Eleanor Gehrig or Claire Ruth throwing out the first pitch from a box seat near the Yankees dugout. For years it was Joe DiMaggio in a sharp suit waving both arms before delivering the ball from the front of the pitcher’s mound. After that it was a rotating cast of one-name-only legends — Yogi or Whitey or Scooter — handling the duties.

Lately it’s been some or other member of the dynasty boys of the ’90s. And as many games as those guys won, as many championships as they assembled, they never started a season 6-1 on the road. Good as they were, they sometimes had to wait until the season’s second week — sometimes its second month — before stepping on the throttle.

Verdugo is right, sure: A week doesn’t make a season. The Pirates started 5-0, just as the Yankees did, and it’s unlikely anyone in Pittsburgh or New York booked hotel rooms yet for this October so the Yankees can finally seek vengeance for Bill Mazeroski. The ’98 Yankees famously started their season 1-4; things got a little better soon after.

There’ll be time for that. The Yankees’ home opener is always a time to pay proper tribute to the most glorious collection of yesterdays in the sport’s history. This time around, today looks just as OK as any of those yesterdays.

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