28 Mar

opening acts

It’s Opening Day in the big leagues. Again. The 28 teams that didn’t go to Japan last week will roll out today in North America, which means it’s time again to celebrate the rare opening day feats of a couple of Mississippians. On April 20, 1937, at Navin Field in Detroit, Gulfport’s Gerald “Gee” Walker of the Tigers hit for the cycle against Cleveland. It remains the only opening day cycle in major league history. Walker, an Ole Miss alum who was called the “Reconstructed Rebel” in a newspaper headline about the game, batted .335 that year and made the All-Star Game for the only time in an outstanding 15-year career. On April 4, 2005, at Comerica Park in Detroit, Vicksburg native Dmitri Young belted three home runs for the Tigers against Kansas City. It was, at the time, only the third three-homer game ever in a season opener. It’s been done once since. Young, aka “Da Meat Hook,” who passed through Smith-Wills Stadium with the Arkansas Travelers back in the 1990s, hit 21 homers in 2005 and 171 in his 13-year MLB career.

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