SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- When I enter Wrigley Field April 11, it will be my 40th Cubs home opener (1971, 1973-74, 1979-80 and every year since 1982).
There have been a number of interesting and memorable opening games in that span. Here are a few of them.
April 6, 1971: Future Hall of Famer Billy Williams hits a 10th-inning walkoff homer off future Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. Check out the game time, too. Here's video of Billy's blast:
That looks like a beautiful day, and the sun was shining. But it was only 40 degrees, quite chilly, as I recall.
April 6, 1973: Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Cubs score a pair of unearned runs to win it over the Expos, both on bases-loaded walks. The winning run is scored by Tony La Russa, pinch-running for Ron Santo. It was TLR's only appearance in a Cubs uniform and his last in the big leagues.
April 14, 1978: I'm including this even though I wasn't there. 3,000 people were in line for the bleachers at 8 a.m. and some started climbing over the walls, forcing the Cubs to open the ballpark five hours before game time. It was the last time Opening Day bleacher tickets were sold on the day of the game. Larry Biittner won this one over the Pirates with a walkoff homer.
April 4, 1997: After losing their first six games of the year on the road, the Cubs came home and lost this one to the Marlins 5-3. That wasn't the story, though; the real story was the game-time temperature, 29, generally acknowledged as the coldest ever at Wrigley Field.
March 31, 2008: With the Cubs trailing 3-0 in the ninth, new Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome hits a three-run homer to tie the game on a cold, drizzly day. The Cubs wind up losing 4-3 in 10 innings but Fukudome's popularity soared, for a while, anyway.
April 5, 2015: The Cubs' first-ever night home opener is a national ESPN broadcast. The left-field video board debuts in front of unfinished bleachers and without enough restrooms. The Cubs lose to the Cardinals 3-0, but it's just the beginning of a remarkable season.
What's your favorite from this group? Or perhaps you have another favorite Opening Day. For the purposes of this post, let's limit this to Wrigley Field openers.