Cubs' only Opening Day grand slam

Cubs batters have hit 344 grand slams in regular-season games since 1876.

Only 1 of them came on Opening Day.

It happened in the 77th of their 147 season debuts, on Tuesday, April 15, 1952, in front of 28,517 fans at drizzly Crosley Field in Cincinnati.



After a scoreless first inning, Randy Jackson led off the second with a home run to center field off starter Herm Wehmeier, a 25-year-old right hander beginning his seventh year with the Reds.

Toby Atwell followed with a single, then Wehmeier set down 3 in a row, the final 2 on the Cubs' Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Roy Smalley and pitcher Paul Minner.

Minner gave up a leadoff double in the bottom of the inning, then a 1-out walk, but stranded the runners on a foul popup and a forceout.



The Cubs got a leadoff double in the third from Eddie Miksis. He developed a charley horse on the play and had to leave the game.

When Wehmeier tried to pick off pinch runner Bob Ramazzotti, his throw nicked Ramazzotti in the head as he slid back into second.

That seemed to rattle Wehmeier, as he walked Dee Fondy.

Frank Baumholtz then laid down a bunt toward third and it out, loading the bases.

Hank Sauer, up next, had grounded out to end the first. This time, the Cubs' cleanup hitter drilled a 2-1 pitch far over the wall in center field.

It was Sauer's 90th home run in 383 games since coming to the Cubs from the Reds in June of 1949, along with Baumholtz, for Peanuts Lowrey and Harry Walker.

It was his first grand slam. He had 2 among 46 homers in his 234 games as a Red.



After Jackson flied out, Atwell singled. He went to third on a hit by Hal Jeffcoat, who was gunned down while trying to reach second.

Wehmeier got Smalley to fly out, ending the inning, then was lifted for a pinch hitter to open the bottom half.

Minner retired that hitter, only to surrender 2 singles and a walk, loading the bases.

Joe Adcock bounced to shortstop Smalley, who threw to Ramazzotti at second for a forceout. But Ramazzotti's relay was wild and 2 runs wound up scoring, with Adcock going to second.

A single put runners on the corners before another forceout kept the score at 5-2.

Ramazzotti, woozy after being hit on the pickoff, was removed for a pinch hitter, Bud Hardin, in the fourth. Hardin stayed in the game, becoming the Cubs' third second baseman of the afternoon.



Hardin, a 29-year-old rookie, was ordinarily a shortstop. His lack of experience at second had consequences in the fifth.

With 1 out and runners at first and third, Adcock grounded to Smalley, who threw to Hardin for a forceout. Hardin was slow on the relay, however, and Adcock beat his throw, allowing the runner to score: 5-3.

Ted Kluszewski then singled, prompting manager Phil Cavarretta to bring in righthander Johnny Klippstein to face righty-swinging Bob Borkowski.

Klippstein coaxed a walk, filling the bases. A hit by Andy Seminick might have tied the game, but he grounded out, keeping the Cubs in the lead.



In the sixth, the Cubs got a leadoff walk by Atwell and a 1-out double by Smalley. The rally fizzled when Klippstein struck out and Hardin tapped back to the mound.

Klippstein issued a 1-out walk in the bottom. First baseman Fondy then speared a line drive and stepped on the bag for an unassisted double play.



Baumholtz doubled off new reliever Frank Hiller with 1 down in the Cubs' seventh. After Sauer flied out, Hiller walked Jackson intentionally and induced a foul popup by Atwell.

Bobby Adams opened the Reds' half with a double. A walk brought up Adcock, who again bounced to Smalley. Once more, he fired to Hardin for a forceout but Hardin could not complete the double play.

Kluszewski then grounded to Fondy, as Adams scored: 5-4.

Klippstein fanned Borkowski for the third out, only to serve up a game-tying leadoff homer to Seminick in the eighth.



The first 2 Cubs flied out in the ninth. Baumholtz walked, but Sauer took a called third strike.

The Reds then loaded the bases on a single by Adams, a bunt, a single by Adcock and an intentional walk to Kluszewski.

When lefty-swinging Hank Edwards was announced as a pinch hitter for Borkowski, Cavarretta summoned 35-year-old lefty Joe Hatten from the bullpen. Reds skipper Luke Sewell countered by replacing Edwards with Wally Post, who batted from the right side.

Hatten threw 3 straight balls. Then he threw 2 straight curves for called strike. His next pitch was a curve, too; Post swung at it and missed

Seminick hit a long fly that was gathered in by Sauer in right, sending the game in extra innings.



Jackson singled to start the 10th and trotted to second as Hiller was called for a balk.

He stayed there as Atwell grounded out and Jeffcoat popped up.

Hiller then intentionally walked Smalley.

Cavarretta sent veteran Gene Hermanski to the plate to bat for Hatten. Hermanski smacked a single to right and Jackson raced home for the Cubs' first run since Sauer's grand slam in the third inning.



43-year-old righty Dutch Leonard, beginning his 19th season, took over on the mound for the Cubs. He quickly dispatched of 2 batters, on a groundout and a fly.

Then he faltered.

A double and a walk put runners on first and second. A passed ball advanced them to second and third, after which the batter was walked intentionally.

The next batter was cleanup hitter Adcock, who so far had doubled, singled and grounded into 3 forceouts.

With the game on the line, he grounded into a fourth, Smalley to Hardin, and the Cubs celebrated a season-opening 6-5 victory.



The Cubs began a 16-game road trip with wins at Boston on June 13 and 14, making their record 34-19, good for second place, 4 games out of first.

Then they lost 9 in a row and were 37-30, in third, when they returned home.

They dropped to fourth, at 40-34, when they lost twice at St. Louis on the Fourth of July, and to fifth, at 47-46, after losing a pair at Philadelphia on July 27.

The Cubs remained fifth after each of their remaining games.

They were a season-worst 5 games below .500, at 68-73, after being swept at Brooklyn on Sept. 10, and still were 3 below, at 73-76, after losing at home to the Cardinals on Sept. 19.

They won their final 2 games of that series, lost on the final Friday of the season at St. Louis, then beat the Cards on Saturday and Sunday to finish 77-77 -- ending a string of 5 straight losing seasons.

The Cubs would lose more games than they won in each of the next 10 seasons, 1953-62, before going 82-80 in 1963.



Sauer finished the year with 37 home runs, tied with Ralph Kiner of the Pirates for most by any player in either league. Sauer's 121 runs batted in were 13 more than anyone else; Kiner had only 87.

Sauer also led the NL in extra-base hits, with 71.

Sauer was voted the NL's Most Valuable Player, earning 226 points in the voting, 15 more than pitcher Robin Roberts of the Phillies, who went 28-7 with a 2.59 earned run average and 1.021 WHIP.

Joe Black of the Dodgers, another pitcher, was third, with 208 points. He was 15-4, 2.15 and 1.005.

Hoyt Wilhelm of the Giants (15-3, 2.43, 1.155) was a distant fourth, with 133 points.

Stan Musial of the Cardinals, with 127, was second to Sauer among hitters. He led both leagues in hits (194), average (.336) and on-base plus slugging (.970) and topped the NL in slugging, at .531.

Sauer was second to Musial in slugging, at .531, and fourth in OPS, at .892. His average was .270 and his OBP was .361. His OPS+ was 140.

His WAR, 5.6, was fifth highest among NL position players, behind Jackie Robinson of the Dodgers (8.4), Musial (7.5), Solly Hemus of the Cardinals (6.9) and Alvin Dark of the Giants (5.8).


Sauer played 3 more seasons with the Cubs. In the middle year, 1954, at age 37, he slugged a career-high 41 home runs, including the fourth and final grand slam of his 15-year career.

He hit 198 homers in his 7 years as a Cub and 288 overall. His last, at age 42, was his only homer while playing 13 games for the Giants in 1959.



The Cubs have hit 16 of their 344 grand slams during the first 10 games of a season.

Rogers Hornsby did it in the second game of 1929, his second game as a Cub, at home vs. the Pirates.

3 others did it in the Cubs' third game.

Bill Nicholson did it twice.

Here is the full list, by game number:

1: Hank Sauer, 1952

2: Rogers Hornsby, 1929

3: Charlie Grimm, 1929

3: Ernie Banks, 1960

3: Dave Marinez, 1988

4: Al Heist, 1961 (walk-off)

5: Bill Nicholson, 1947

5: Michael Barrett, 2006

7: George Mitterwald, 1974

7: Dave Kingman, 1980

8: Lloyd McClendon, 1990

8: Bryan LaHair, 2012

9: Hack Wilson, 1928

9: Barry Foote, 1980 (walk-off)

10: Bill Nicholson, 1940

10: Dave Kingman, 1979



The slam by Martinez in 1988, came on April 8, at Montreal.

Barrett's, at home against the Cardinals, came on April 9.

None of the others came before April 13.



The latest game number of a season in which a Cub cleared the bases was 162, by Rafael Palmeiro, at home against the Pirates on Oct. 1, 1988. That was the Cubs' next-to-last game of the year.

So were the games 161 in which Aramis Ramirez (2010, at Houston) and Trayce Thompson (2021, at St. Louis) hit slams, and game 59 of 2020, in which Kris Bryant did so.

The slams by Ramirez and Thompson both came on Oct. 2, the latest by date of all Cubs slams.

Ron Santo hit a walk-off slam to beat the Dodgers, 4-1, in game 160 on Sept. 25, 1968.

The next 2 highest game number was 156, by Vince Barton, in 1931, and Javier Baez, in 2016.

Barton's was in the final game of the season, the second of a doubleheader at home against the Pirates. No other Cub has hit a slam in the team's season finale.

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