Today In Royals History: March to Opening Day

He played in this game. - John Gurzinski

March 31, 1998

Once upon a time, baseball started in April. It always started in April.

At some point, the season started in March. In Japan. Or some other place on the other side of the date line. And layers of playoffs were added. And the World Series ended in November. OK.

So now it just so happens that when March 31 falls on a Monday, we play regular season baseball. I'm not complaining. The earlier the season starts, the better for my soul. And this year we get baseball in March. (I'm not counting those games in March in Australia. On the other side of the world, out of mind.)

On March 31, 1998 the Royals played their first-ever regular season game in March. Tim Belcher against Mike Mussina. The Royals were coming off one of their typical 67 win seasons - and second consecutive last place finish in the Central. On the other hand, the Orioles won 98 games the year before and captured the AL East crown.

Throw out the old records. These were the new Royals. They took their first March game by a 4-1 score as Larry Sutton drove home three and Belcher threw seven innings of three-hit ball.

Batting AB R H RBI BB SO BA OPS Pit Str WPA aLI
Johnny Damon CF 4 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 13 10 -0.058 0.55
Jose Offerman 2B 4 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 21 13 -0.041 0.39
Hal Morris LF-1B 4 1 1 0 0 2 .250 .500 16 11 0.008 0.49
Jeff King 1B 2 2 2 0 0 0 1.000 2.000 8 6 0.090 1.19
Ernie Young RF 2 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 4 4 -0.018 0.35
Terry Pendleton DH 4 0 1 0 0 1 .250 .750 13 10 0.037 0.94 2B
Dean Palmer 3B 4 1 2 1 0 0 .500 1.000 14 11 -0.024 0.76 2·SB
Larry Sutton RF-1B-LF 4 0 2 3 0 0 .500 1.250 10 8 0.165 1.07 2B
Mike Sweeney C 4 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 13 9 -0.071 0.64
Felix Martinez SS 3 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 8 7 -0.054 0.66
Tim Belcher P
Jose Rosado P
Scott Service P
Jeff Montgomery P
Team Totals 35 4 8 4 0 11 .229 .514 120 89 0.034 0.70
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/30/2014.

Their first ever March regular season game and their first ever March win. Too bad that momentum didn't carry into April. They lost the next day 10-1 and it was all downhill from there.

A quick note: I've done something like this in the past, and enjoyed the positive feedback, but have run out of steam from time to time. With the new season comes a new (and probably temporary) commitment. No promises on the regularity of this. And I'll probably repeat some I've done before. We'll see how it goes.

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