Firstman: The 10 most unlikely Opening Day starters in MLB history

From SABR member Diane Firstman at on March 29, 2016:

Rest easy, Mets fans. Matt Harvey is still scheduled to start Opening Day after Monday’s initially unnamed health scare turned out to be blood clots in his bladder. Terry Collins didn’t have an easy decision between Harvey or Jacob deGrom or even Noah Syndergaard, but with most teams the choice is obvious. It’s their top starter from the prior year. If the team lost that hurler to trade, free agency or injury, then the No. 2 man will get the call, or maybe the flashy new free-agent addition. But sometimes the ball is given to someone unexpected. Here are the stories of seven such men.

Bumpus Jones, 1893 Cincinnati Reds

Jones was a late-season addition to the 1892 Reds squad. On the final day of the regular season, only a few days after being signed off a semiprofessional sandlot team, he made the first start and appearance of his pro career and tossed a no-hitter. (He is still the only pitcher to achieve that feat in his first pitching appearance. Bobo Holloman threw a no-hitter in his first start but had made four relief appearances.) Buoyed by that performance, Jones got the call to open the 1893 season for the Reds. The distance from pitcher to batter had been increased from 50 feet to 60 feet, 6 inches for the new season, and perhaps Jones couldn’t adjust. Whatever the case might have been, he got lit up for 42 hits and 33 walks in 32.2 innings during the year and never pitched again. The resulting 7.99 ERA is the highest career mark for any pitcher with at least one Opening Day start.

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Originally published: March 29, 2016. Last Updated: March 29, 2016.