Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On this day.... The Vet comes alive

On April 10, 1971 the city of Philadelphia proudly opened Veterans Stadium. It was a long time coming... as early as December 1969, the Phillies expected that they would play the first month of the 1970 season at old Connie Mack Stadium before moving to the new venue. However, the opening was delayed a year because of a combination of bad weather and cost overruns.

Despite temperatures in the low 40s, a crowd of 55,352, the largest in the history of Pennsylvania ever to watch a baseball game enjoy the hometown Phillies' 4-1 victory over the Montreal Expos. Future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning starts and throws the first pitch to Expos lead-off hitter Boots Day. Day grounds the ball back to Bunning and first baseman Deron Johnson records the the first putout. In the bottom of the first, Phils shortstop Larry Bowa leads off with a single to right field for the first ever hit in the new venue. In the bottom of the sixth, Phils third baseman Don Money deposits a Bill Stoneman pitch into the stands for the first ever home run. I have linked a complete list of all the "firsts" at The Vet.

1971 would be the last in the majors for Jim Bunning. Larry Bowa would go on to play another 11 seasons in South Philly and later return to manage the team as it closed the stadium in 2003. Don Money would be dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers in October 1972 to make room for a rookie named Mike Schmidt. Money would go on to make 4 AL All Star teams.


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