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The Top 5: Yankees And Mets Opening-Day Starters

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Former New York Yankee Ron Guidry warms up before the teams 64th Old-Timer's Day before the MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 17 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Former New York Yankee Ron Guidry warms up before the teams 64th Old-Timer's Day before the MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 17 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Getty Images

No one's really sure who was on the mound for the first game the New York Yankees ever played, back in 1901 when they were known as the Baltimore Orioles (though it was most likely Iron Joe McGinnity, who started 43 games that season and finished with a 26-20 record), but they defeated the Boston Americans, 10-6. We do know that the first-ever opening-day starting pitcher for the New York Mets was Roger Craig, in 1962 (the Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-4, with Craig giving up five runs in three innings). David Cone was the only pitcher to make opening-day starts for both the Yankees ('96, '97) and the Mets ('92). Lefty Gomez has the consecutive opening-game streak for the Yanks, with six, from 1932 to '37. Other notables for the Yankees and Mets: Andy Pettitte and Jerry Koosman only started once on opening day for their original teams, Jim Bouton was tabbed the Bombers' starter in 1965 and the only pitcher to start on opening day while Tom Seaver was on the Mets' roster was Don Cardwell, in Seaver's rookie season of 1967. Here are the pitchers with the most opening-day starts for the two New York teams.

3. (Tie) Ron Guidry, 7: Louisiana Lightning was on the mound for the Yankees in their openers in 1978-'80, '82-'84 and '86. In his first one, in '78, he got a no-decision, after throwing seven innings of six-hit ball and only allowing one run. Pitching in his first game for the Yanks, Goose Gossage coughed up a home run to Richie Zisk of the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the ninth to lose the game. Jon Matlack pitched a complete game for the Rangers to earn the win. Two years later, Guidry faced Matlack again, with both tossing nine shutout innings, but in the 12th, Gossage threw a wild pitch to Zisk and former Yankee Mickey Rivers crossed the plate with the winning run. In the '82 opener, Guidry matched up against another former Met, this time Jerry Koosman of the Chicago White Sox. The Yanks lost once again in 12 innings, when -- who else -- Gossage gave up the winning hit to (no, not Richie Zisk) Ron Leflore. Guidry had a 1-2 record on opening day.

3. (Tie) Mel Stottlemyre, 7: One of the most underrated pitchers the major leagues have ever seen, Stottlemyre was the Yankees' opening-day starter from 1967-'70 and '72-'74 (Stan Bahnsen was on the mound for the Yanks in '71). Stottlemyre threw complete-game shutouts in his first two opening-day starts, tossing a two-hitter against the Washington Senators in '67 and beating the California Angels 1-0 in '68. He was also on the mound for the first-ever game with a designated hitter, in '73 against the Boston Red Sox. Ron Blomberg was the first batter to step up to the plate as a DH, and he was walked by Luis Tiant with the bases loaded scoring Matty Alou. Alou's older brother, Felipe, followed Blomberg with a two-run double. The Yanks fell to the Sox, though, 15-5, with Blomberg and Orlando Cepeda (Boston's DH) going a combined 1-for-9. In his seven opening-day starts, Stottlemyre threw four complete games with a 4-3 record.

3. (Tie) Whitey Ford, 7: The Chairman of the Board was the Yankees' opening-day starter in '54, '55, '57, '61, '62, '64 and '66. After getting a no decision in a loss to the Senators in his first one (three-and-two-thirds innings, two earned runs), Ford got his revenge the next season, when he threw a complete game and the Bombers murdered Washington, 19-1. Ford also banged out three hits and drove in four runs. In 1964, he was the tough-luck loser after pitching 11 innings in a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox. And in his last one, in '66, Ford and the Yanks fell to Mickey Lolich and the Detroit Tigers, 2-1. Ford had an all-time 2-3 opening-day record.

2. Dwight Gooden, 8: After winning the NL Rookie of the Year award in '84, Gooden was on the mound for the Mets on opening day in '85. Though his performance in the 6-5 victory over the Cardinals was not a foreshadowing of his historic Cy Young season to come (no decision, six innings, three earned runs, six hits, six strikeouts, two walks), something special did happen that day, when, in the bottom of the 10th inning, Gary Carter hit the game-winning home run in his first game with the Mets (and Tom Gorman picked up the win). Gooden also started in '86, '88-'91, '93 and '94 (he missed out in '87 due to his suspension). Like the Mets themselves over the decades (32-18), Gooden was usually successful on opening day, with a 6-1 record.

1. Tom Seaver, 11: The king of New York openers, Seaver started 10 consecutive ones, from '68 to '77. The Mets lost to the San Francisco Giants in his first one, 5-4, when, after going eight-and-a-third innings (three runs, seven hits, three strikeouts, no walks), he was relieved by Danny Frisella, who gave up a two-run double to the third Alou brother, Jesus, to lose it at Candlestick Park. His 11th opener came in his triumphant return to the Mets in '83, when he dueled another aging ace, Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies. Seaver got the best of his longtime rival, winning 2-0, pitching six shutout innings, on three hits, five strikeouts and one walk (Doug Sisk got the three-inning save). The Franchise finished his Met career with a 6-0 opening-day record, and he has started more openers than any other pitcher in major league history, with his five with the Cincinnati Reds and White Sox added to his 11 for the Mets.