For millions of baseball fans across North America, the smell of the infield grass and the crack of the bat couldn’t hit any faster.
Major League Baseball celebrates the opening of its 2017 season on Sunday, April 2 with three games—the San Francisco Giants visit the Arizona Diamondbacks, while the New York Yankees open against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” game will feature the Cardinals hosting the Cubs at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
The balance of the league’s teams get started on Monday, April 3 when MLB.com lists 12 scheduled games, followed by the rest of the MLB clubs throughout the week.
According to Baseball Almanac, no other game during the regular 162-game season is as eagerly anticipated as Opening Day. Major League Baseball’s first officially recognized franchise, the Cincinnati Reds, were historically awarded the privilege of “opening the Openers” and hosted Opening Day from 1876-1989.
When fans think of the high points of opening days through history, there’s no doubt that Hammerin’ Hank Aaron made one of the most indelible impressions at Riverfront Stadium on his first swing of the 1974 season when he tagged the Cincinnati Reds for his 714th career home run – tying Babe Ruth on the all-time list.
So who is among baseball’s 2017 players to watch? The experts at mlb.com have their eye on Texas Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre. Beltre’s quest to become the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club requires only 58 more hits to join Wade Boggs and George Brett who also played more than half their games at third base.
Beltre is also close to a couple of other milestones. With just nine more doubles and five more home runs – in addition to those 58 hits – Beltre would join Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players in history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles and 450 homers.
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