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Yankees history: Opening Day 1948

The Yankees could not have played much better than they did in their very first inning in 1948.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Yankees’ season started about as well as it could have on Opening Day. Beyond just the win, the first inning itself started perfectly. Sure maybe Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez could have reached base, but Giancarlo Stanton hitting a home run in his very first at bat as a Yankee was all you could ask for.

Opening Day 1948 for the Yankees went even better, though. The Yankees came into the season as reigning World Series champions, having beaten the Dodgers in seven games in 1947. They opened ‘48 in Washington DC against the Senators. The Senators had struggled the previous season, finishing seventh in the American League.

Their starter on Opening Day was Early Wynn, one of their bright spots from the previous season. Wynn went on to have a Hall of Fame career, and made his first of nine All-Star Games in 1947. His second did not come in 1948, and this game didn’t help his case.

Snuff Stirnweiss led off the game for the Yankees that day with a walk. Tommy Heinrich followed that with a home run in the very next at-bat, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead before an out had been recorded.

Wynn then did get Charlie Keller to ground out, but things then got worse before they got better for the Senators. Joe DiMaggio, George McQuinn, and Billy Johnson hit three consecutive singles, the third plating another run. After Phil Rizzuto grounded out, Gus Niahros singled home a run. Then, of all people in the lineup, Yankees’ pitcher Allie Reynolds dealt the biggest blow. Reynolds hit a three-run home run, scoring another three runs and giving the Yankees a seven spot in their very first inning of the season.

The Senators got three runs back in the bottom of the first, but that’s as close as they would get all game. The Yankees tacked on another five runs in the remaining eight innings and won 12-4.

Early Wynn finished his 1948 season with a 5.82 ERA. If you take out the seven runs he allowed in his first inning of the season, and replace it with a zero, his ERA drops to 5.50. That inning alone was responsible for 0.32 of his ERA for the year.

Somehow the Senators not only let Wynn finish the first inning, but he actually ended up throwing 8.1. For whatever reason, they let him allow another three runs and five hits after that inning. Eventually they took him out after he gave up two of those runs in the top of the ninth.

Reynolds didn’t have a great day himself, allowing four runs on 11 hits and five walks in a complete game. Then again, he was also responsible for three runs of run support for himself, so it evens out.

It’s arguable that the Yankees’ season never got quite as good as that first inning, however. They ended up finishing third in the American League, 2.5 games out of first. They were tied for first as late as September 24th but never once stood alone atop the American League.

Opening Day is a time of hope, and you would think a lot of Yankees’ fans were hopeful after the opener in 1948.