1988-After a stirring off-season that saw his team add several key players – including Dave Parker, Dave Henderson, and Bob Welch – to a young, talented nucleus, A’s manager Tony La Russa knew the dangers of premature parade planning:
“My top goal is to make sure that the club is not carried away with the power potential of the team.”
Oakland proceeded to reel off 104 wins in 1988 en route to the first of three consecutive American League pennants.
But on April 5, they were still in the infancy stages of the mini-dynasty to come. Following an Opening Night victory, in which Dave Stewart stifled Seattle, Welch combined with Greg Cadaret and Dennis Eckersley to shut out the Mariners, 6-0.
The A’s were actually out-hit (9 to 7), with seven different players collecting one hit each, the big blow a 2-run double by Jose Canseco to break open a close game. Canseco would go on to become the first player in big-league history to hit 40 homeruns and steal 40 bases in the same season, resulting in a unanimous MVP selection.
1989-A year later, Welch was again the beneficiary of a balanced attack, as the A’s slew Seattle, 11-1. The bottom of the lineup (Mike Gallego, 3-for-4, 3 runs scored and Walt Weiss 3-for-4, 2 homeruns, 3 runs scored, 4 runs driven in) was more than enough support for Welch. Not to be outdone by a guy who hit 25 career homeruns (Weiss), Mark McGwire and Dave Parker – with a combined 922 lifetime round-trippers – also went deep for the AL Champions, who showed no ill effects of having an injured Jose Canseco watch from the sidelines. Scary team is scary.
1993-The A’s were no longer the juggernaut that ruled the American League West four out of the previous five seasons; in fact the ’93 A’s would place last in their division. But they opened the season with a 9-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers, thanks in part to a grand slam by ’92 hero Eric Fox.
Yes, once upon a time, the A’s won on Opening Day. Sigh.