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Getting the start

This is a team fanboy post so please excuse me for all the Dodger blue.

Julio Urias is getting the Opening Day start for the Dodgers tonight against Arizona. He is the 63rd pitcher in franchise history to start Opening Day. I know this because I counted.
I got curious, so I went through and figured out all of the Game 1 starters for the Dodgers since they began as the "Bridegrooms" in 1890.
Here is briefly what I found:

Clayton Kershaw holds the franchise record for the most Opening Day starts with nine. He set the record with his eighth season-debut start in 2018.

Kershaw broke the record previously held by Don Drysdale and Don Sutton, who each started Opening Day seven times in their careers. Kershaw also broke Sutton's record of seven straight seasons of Opening Day starts with his eighth straight start in 2018.


After the top three, Fernando Valenzuela has the most Opening Day starts with six, along with Brickyard Kennedy, who also had six starts.

With the exception of Kennedy, who made his season-opening starts in 1894-96 and 1898-1901, using a regular pitcher for your Opening Day starts is really an invention of the last 70 years, at least from the Dodgers' standpoint.

Until Carl Erskine made four Opening Day starts in 1951, 1953-55, no other pitcher besides Kennedy, Nap Rucker and Van Mungo had made more than three, and that was going back 60 years.

Ramon Martinez is the only other Dodgers pitcher to compile more than four Opening Day starts. He started five in the 1990s. Orel Hershiser had four Opening Day starts from 1987-94.

Other than that, there are several pitchers with three Opening Day starts: Leon Cadore, Jesse Petty, Watty Clark, Hal Gregg, Don Newcombe, Claude Osteen, Kevin Brown and Derek Lowe.
It's a bit of a shock to note that Sandy Koufax received just one Opening Day start (1964), the same amount as people like Bob Miller (1967) and Vicente Padilla (2010).
So, that's all the time I have to dwell on Dodgers Opening Day starters. I've been watching a little bit of Opening Day baseball and I plan to fit it in some more as I can around the dumb job schedule.
Here is the rundown of every Dodgers Opening Day starter in their history for those of you who need something to look at ... on a day when there's plenty of baseball stuff to look at: 

1890: Bob Caruthers
1891: George Hemming
1892: Dave Foutz
1893: Ed Stein
1894: Brickyard Kennedy
1895: Brickyard Kennedy
1896: Brickyard Kennedy
1897: Harley Payne
1898: Brickyard Kennedy
1899: Brickyard Kennedy
1900: Brickyard Kennedy
1901: Bill Donovan
1902: Bill Donovan
1903: Henry Schmidt
1904: Oscar Jones
1905: Oscar Jones
1906: Harry McIntire
1907: Elmer Stricklett
1908: Nap Rucker
1909: Kaiser Wilhelm
1910: Nap Rucker
1911: Cy Barger
1912: Nap Rucker
1913: Nap Rucker
1914: Ed Reulbach
1915: Jeff Pfeffer
1916: Larry Cheney
1917: Wheezer Dell
1918: Rube Marquard
1919: Leon Cadore
1920: Leon Cadore
1921: Leon Cadore
1922: Dutch Ruether
1923: Burleigh Grimes
1924: Dutch Ruether
1925: Dazzy Vance
1926: Jesse Petty
1927: Jesse Petty
1928: Jesse Petty
1929: Watty Clark
1930: Watty Clark
1931: Jack Quinn
1932: Waite Hoyt
1933: Watty Clark
1934: Van Mungo
1935: Van Mungo
1936: George Earnshaw
1937: Van Mungo
1938: Van Mungo
1939: Red Evans
1940: Whit Wyatt
1941: Whit Wyatt
1942: Curt Davis
1943: Ed Head
1944: Hal Gregg
1945: Curt Davis
1946: Hal Gregg
1947: Hal Gregg
1948: Rex Barney
1949: Joe Hatten
1950: Don Newcombe
1951: Carl Erskine
1952: Preacher Roe
1953: Carl Erskine
1954: Carl Erskine
1955: Carl Erskine
1956: Don Newcombe
1957: Don Newcombe
1958: Don Drysdale
1959: Don Drysdale
1960: Don Drysdale
1961: Don Drysdale
1962: Johnny Podres
1963: Don Drysdale
1964: Sandy Koufax
1965: Don Drysdale
1966: Claude Osteen
1967: Bill Miller
1968: Claude Osteen
1969: Don Drysdale
1970: Claude Osteen
1971: Bill Singer
1972: Don Sutton
1973: Don Sutton
1974: Don Sutton
1975: Don Sutton
1976: Don Sutton
1977: Don Sutton
1978: Don Sutton
1979: Burt Hooton
1980: Burt Hooton
1981: Fernando Valenzuela
1982: Jerry Reuss
1983: Fernando Valenzuela
1984: Fernando Valenzuela
1985: Fernando Valenzuela
1986: Fernando Valenzuela
1987: Orel Hershiser
1988: Fernando Valenzuela
1989: Tim Belcher
1990: Orel Hershiser
1991: Tim Belcher
1992: Ramon Martinez
1993: Orel Hershiser
1994: Orel Hershiser
1995: Ramon Martinez
1996: Ramon Martinez
1997: Ramon Martinez
1998: Ramon Martinez
1999: Kevin Brown
2000: Kevin Brown
2001: Chan Ho Park
2002: Kevin Brown
2003: Hideo Nomo
2004: Hideo Nomo
2005: Derek Lowe
2006: Derek Lowe
2007: Derek Lowe
2008: Brad Penny
2009: Hiroki Kuroda
2010: Vicente Padilla
2011: Clayton Kershaw
2012: Clayton Kershaw
2013: Clayton Kershaw
2014: Clayton Kershaw
2015: Clayton Kershaw
2016: Clayton Kershaw
2017: Clayton Kershaw
2018: Clayton Kershaw
2019: Hyun-Jin Ryu
2020: Dustin May
2021: Clayton Kershaw
2022: Walker Buehler
2023: Julio Urias


Nick Vossbrink said…
For some reason Baseball Reference thinks that Leon Cadore went to Stanford even though all other evidence suggests that he didn't.
I would have guessed Hershiser had more in a row than just two.
Jeff said…
Am I the only one surprised that Derek Lowe got 3 Dodger Opening Day starts?
night owl said…
It was not a good era for LA.
1984 Tigers said…
I believe Fernando got his 1981 start because Jerry Reuss was a late scratch. What a start to the season he had, in the days when a lot of houses didn't have ESPN or anyway to see him unless it was Monday night or Saturday game of the week.

I was a freshman at michigan when the dodgers beat the yanks in the WS. Fernando had a rough game three but labored through it to give the dodgers their first of 4 wins in a row. Though a tigers fan, was pulling for the dodgers big time.

Paul t
Scary, is that at least a dozen of those are PC guys of mine.
Brett Alan said…
Koufax only started Opening Day ONCE? Mind, blown.
Jeremya1um said…
Can’t believe Ramon Martinez had more than Orel.
Chris said…
Now I want to look up this Brickyard Kennedy guy. This is the first I've heard of him, and he made as many OD starts as Fernando? Wow.
John Bateman said…
With the Fernando Comment, I thought of a new series you might do. The one baseball card that would most represent each year. (I think of it this way - when you think of 1981 what card first comes to mind - see below) For me for a couple of years

1952- Jackie Robinson or Mickey Mantle
1957 - Hank Aaron
1964 - Ken Hubbs
1971 - Lindy McDaniel
1976 - Johnny Bench
1977 - George Foster (over Mark Fidrych he was really 1976 but this is a great card)
1981 - Fleer Fernando Valenzuela
1984 - Donruss Don Mattingly
1986 - Donruss Jose Canseco
1987 - Topps Mark McGuire
1988 - Topps Jose Canseco (A's tended to dominate the Junk Wack era)

Some of the more recent years it is harder to think of (Coco Crisp) but it would be the uniqueness of the card/the player on the card and the year he had/ - the series would most likely be dominated by rookies, MVPS and World Series winners.
John Bateman said…
Though I just realize it would be kind of similar to your best 100 card of the decade series. - {see my last comment though on Foster vs. Fidrych} the results could be slightly different
1984 Tigers said…

Nice listing! I like the Hubbs choice for one.

A few of my add-ons

1953 Jackie. Number 1 card of the set and beautiful painting of him and his smile.

1962 roger Maris. Number 1 card and after his biggest season.

1963 Koufax. Beautiful card.

1966 Mays again 1st card of set. Nice photo.

1969 Mantle last card. Number 500. Great photo. And what the heck make it the white letter variation.

1972 both Clemente cards. Regular with ball in the air and in action after he's called out on strikes.

1981 I like Fernando but rather his topps update card.

Paul t
Fuji said…
Never knew about retrosheet until this post. Thanks for sharing this. Looks like I have some exploring to do.

John Bateman - Love that blog post idea of the first card that comes to mind for a particular year. Possible Blog Bat-Around? I know if people focus on the most iconic card from every year, there would be some similar responses. But if it's the first card that pops into your head... there could be some variety.
Adam Ryan said…
Thanks for the history lesson! A lot of names from back in the day I've never heard. Brickyard Kennedy is a fantastic old school baseball name too! I think this has probably inspired me to make a post like this, only Reds related this time.