Denton: Wrong. You’ve got to go back to April 7, 1986 for the greatest Red Sox opening day home run, when Dewey Evans hit the first pitch of the entire major league season out of Tiger Stadium. That home run set the tone for the ’86 Sox’ historic run. Not to mention it was off of Jack Morris, who had one of the most intimidating moustaches of the eighties.
Red: But doesn’t anything associated with the Sox’ 1986 season ultimately bring you misery? It’s like 2003 for me. I can’t focus on Dave Henderson’s heroics because all’s I see is Billy Buckner and John McNamara, arm in arm, shuffling off into oblivion.
Denton: True, but you didn’t know that in April of ’86. After one pitch, one frigging pitch, everything was rainbows and hand-jobs as far as you could see. Sure, later on in the game Sammy Stewart — whose moustache was also nothing to sneeze at — coughed up a couple of runs to lose it. But at the moment when Dewey’s bat hit that ball, man, things never looked better.
Red: Good point. But I think Manny’s home run was the harbinger of a Bold New Era in Red Sox history. Pedro gave us the arm, now we had the bat. Even better, it served as an excellent checkpoint to the Yankees landing Mussina. It was a sign that we were gonna hang with them and might actually be able to avenge that 1999 ALCS pasting. Sure, we still went on to have our share of heartbreak, and in 2003 I came the closest I’ve been to jumping off a bridge since those photos of me and the Zalasky sisters surfaced. But after miserable free agent signing after miserable free agent signing, this was a sign that Manny was gonna be money for years to come. And he has been and will be.
Denton: But his home run, that you claim to be the greatest opening day home run, actually came in the home opener, four games into the season! I’m talking the first pitch of a fresh, new season sent into orbit by Dewey Evans, the greatest player ever to wear the number 24 for Boston. But that’s an argument for another day.
Red: Alright, you’ve got me there. It was the home opener. Still, though, I don’t think there was a more anticipated first at-bat in the previous ten years of baseball at Fenway. Even better, we were down 3-0 in the first inning, and Manny stepped up with two men on. One pitch, one swing, just like that, tie game. Suddenly, that was the best spent $160 million since Billy Crystal paid to have the negatives of his film My Giant sent out into space to be destroyed by a precision NASA laser.
Denton: If you’re gonna change the rules and expand it to include Fenway home openers, then you have to consider Mo Vaughn’s grand slam to cap a 7-run bottom of the ninth in 1998.
Red: Of course, we should actually call this “best opening day home run ever hit in our lifetimes” since we’re blatantly disregarding anything that happened prior to the 70s. But I guess that’s beside the point. How many more hours ’til first pitch?