George Bell — 1988

Entering this afternoon’s game against the Detroit Tigers, the Jays own a record of 15-15 in season openers dating back to 1977, when Doug Ault’s two homers helped lift the home side to a 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on that famous snowy April 7 day at Exhibition Stadium.

Fresh off his American League MVP season in 1987, outfielder George Bell provided Blue Jay fans with an exciting season opener in ’88, becoming the first ever major-leaguer to hit three home runs on Opening Day. The oft-outspoken Bell hit all three long balls off Kansas City ace Bret Saberhagen, including solo shots in the secGeorge_bell_1ond and eighth innings, and a two-run blast in the fourth. The most intriguing fact surrounding Bell’s performance on that memorable Opening Day was the tumultuous relationship between himself and manager Jimy Williams coming out of Spring Training.

Williams made it clear in camp that the organization wanted Bell to serve as the designated hitter on a full-time basis that season. Bell was furious at the suggestion, believing that he was still an asset in the outfield. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old found himself penciled into the DH spot at Royals Stadium on Opening Day, batting in his usual cleanup position. Outfield or no outfield, Bell’s 3-for-4, four-RBI performance paved the way for a 5-3 Blue Jays victory and a quick start in that ’88 campaign.

– – –

With today’s season opener knotted at three, right-hander Casey Jannsen quiets a few critics of the Blue Jays’ bullpen by working 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of Roy Halladay, who made his franchise-record fifth straight Opening Day start … It takes until the tenth inning, but Troy Glaus delivers the game-winning RBI single, while closer B.J. Ryan nails down the save to preserve the Opening Day victory … With another one in the books, the Blue Jays are now 16-15 in season openers and 1-0 on the brand new ’07 campaign. Stay tuned for more …

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