Indians Opening Day: Share your memories

12:48 PM, Apr 1, 2011   |    comments
Getty Images: Jeff Hixon
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Opening Day, April 7, 1973.  I was a student at Kent State University.  The opener was on a Saturday, a rarity at the time.  The Detroit Tigers were the opposition and Gaylord Perry was the Tribe's Opening Day starter.

About a dozen of my friends and I decided to attend. We got tickets and made the drive up from Kent. 

I remember it was cold, windy, temperature in the 30's, and it looked like snow would be flying at any minute. We had Upper Deck reserved seats behind the plate.

We had about every inch of skin covered. Most of us were hunkered down with our winter weather gear on, sipping coffee and hot chocolate, although a few of my "genius" friends still opted for "Ice Cold Beer Here!"

Chris Chambliss hit a 2-run homer in the 1st off Mickey Lolich to give the Tribe the lead. 

It was a miserable day to hit: cold, windy, you got a handful of "bees" every time you made contact with the ball. That's probably why there was only a total of 8 hits in the game.

In about the 4th inning, one of my friends got brave enough to look up from under his blanket out over the open end of the Cleveland Stadium horseshoe onto 9th Street, and said, "Hey, Look! The cars are still coming into the lot!"

I looked up and was surprised. But then I looked around the ballpark and was shocked!  The place was about full, almost every seat in the "mausoleum" was occupied!!

Final Official Attendance: 74,420 !!!  That stood as Major League Baseball's Opening Day Record crowd until the Colorado Rockies broke it when they came into the league and put 80,000+ into Mile High Stadium!

The Cleveland crowd may still be the American League Opening Day attendance record, but I'll have to look it up!

The Tribe held on to a 2-1 victory. Gaylord Perry pitched a complete game, 4-hitter, allowing an eighth inning homer to Mike Stanley.

After the game, most of our crowd motored back to Kent, but me and three of my friends went back to my house in Garfield Heights.

We thawed out and my mom made us some dinner before we headed back downtown to watch a hockey playoff game at the Cleveland Arena with the Cleveland Crusaders and the Philadelphia Blazers. 

The Crusaders won to make it a "Perfect Day!"

Readers: Share your Opening Day memories in the comments section below.


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