Andrew McCutchen got the first hit of the year, against the still-dormant Ivy at Wrigley Field. He delivered as the designated hitter in the National League. Also wearing a Roberto Clemente No. 21 patch.
A little later on Opening Day, Nico Hoerner hit the first home run of 2022. He connected to a pitcher who used an electronic bracelet to receive his signals from the catcher.
Shortly after, in another yard, the Cleveland Guardians took the field for the first time.
New season, and definitely a new look throughout Major League Baseball.
And if the weather wasn’t quite summery in some places on Thursday, well, who cares?
“It can be cold, it can be windy. But it’s opening day,” Cardinals fan Mary Welsh of Belleville, Ill., said at Busch Stadium before St. Louis hosted Pittsburgh.
Near Disneyland, where temperatures were approaching 100 degrees, AL MVP Shohei Ohtani was about to kick his heat to 100 mph and take his swings for the Los Angeles Angels.
In Atlanta, the Braves celebrated their World Series championship with a pre-game parade. At every stage, referees were expected to have their say – from this year they will join referees from other sports in announcing replay review decisions to the crowd.
As seats filled up in rainy Washington, chilly Kansas City and more, it looked like fans had decided that the owners’ 99-day lockdown that delayed spring training and pushed back Opening Day by a week wouldn’t deter them from coming back.
Wearing an Ernie Banks jersey, Philip Lijewski, 23, of Guthrie, Oklahoma, enjoyed the view at Wrigley as the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers relaxed. He said the anger and acrimony over the labor dispute hadn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the game.
“Not really,” Lijewski said. “I’m glad they reached a conclusion sooner rather than later. I was disappointed that we couldn’t do it on April 4th. But today is April 7, so not too many days later.
More than eight months after announcing a new change, Cleveland played its first regular season game as the Guardians. Known as the Indians since 1915, the club made the switch in the interest of social justice.
Cleveland wore their road uniforms for the game in Kansas City, with the city’s name on the jersey.
“Supporting the city is what matters,” star pitcher Shane Bieber said a day before the opener. “Going out there with my teammates, doing it the right way is really all we can do. It was a bit different getting used to the change, but I would say we’re all getting used to it day by day.
Many stars from other sports were at Kauffman Stadium to watch top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. and the Royals beat the Guardians 3-1. Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and several of his players were in attendance, as were members of the Kansas basketball team, which rallied against North Carolina in Monday’s men’s championship game. evening in New Orleans.
A strong wind made it feel much colder than the 47-degree temperature during the game and intermittent drizzle turned into streaky ice pellets during the national anthem.
After earlier rains at Yankee Stadium and Target Field, the Brewers-Cubs game became the season opener.
It was a raw 44 degrees when Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks threw the first pitch, which Kolten Wong threw for a wind-blown popout.
McCutchen doubled in the second inning for the first hit of the season, then singled and scored in the fourth for the first run. NL MVP in 2013, McCutchen, 35, was Milwaukee’s designated hitter.
As part of MLB’s working agreement, the National League has now permanently adopted the designated hitter – the American League began using him in 1973, and the NL added him for the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic before returning to let the pitchers strike last year.
Before the Cubs hit in the bottom of the third, the video card in left field showed a clip dedicated to pitchers hitting with Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” serving as the soundtrack.
“Thank you pitchers. See you soon,” he said at the end.
McCutchen is among several active Roberto Clemente Award winners who will wear the number 21 — the number worn by the late Pirates Hall of Famer — on the back of their hats and helmets for the rest of their careers.
MLB said it was a “special tribute to his enduring legacy.” The announcement was timed for the 50th anniversary of the year in which Clemente, Puerto Rico’s Pittsburgh great, died in a plane crash during a humanitarian relief effort.
“It’s a privilege. An honor,” said Nationals slugger Nelson Cruz, the most Clemente award recipient. “He means so much to baseball, in general. He was an example to follow – how to be professional, on and off the pitch. A remarkable player and a remarkable human being who lost his life trying to help others.
“He paid the ultimate price, and whatever we do is not enough,” he said.
Hoerner threw the first homer, a two-run drive for the Cubs from NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. Brewers catcher Omar Narváez and Burnes used the new approved electronic pitch calling system – Narváez could press a button on his wristband to signal what he wanted to pitch, without fear of wiggling his fingers and getting robbed the sign.
Not that Hoerner needed any help, apparently.
“Who had Nico in the first group of circuits?” Cubs manager David Ross joked after the 5-4 win.
AP baseball writer Jay Cohen, AP sportswriters Tom Withers and Dave Skretta, and AP freelance writer Steve Overbey contributed to this report.
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