The best: 2010, vs. Cubs. Up to that point I had never heard The Ted as loud as it was after Jay Hey took Zambrano deep in the bottom of the 1st.
(Runner-up): 2000, vs. Rockies. After missing the ’99 season to cancer, the Big Cat homered in his first game back, breaking a scoreless tie in the 7th. Not sure why only 42,000-plus showed up for that one.
The worst (tie): 1978, vs. Dodgers. Bobby’s first game as a big league skipper was at home, on a Friday night, against L.A. and Don Sutton. Nothing wrong with how it started. Rowland hit a solo homer in the first, Murph, starting at 1B, followed with a 2-run shot in the 2nd and Jerry Royster went deep in the 3rd to give the Braves a 4-3 lead. They wouldn’t score again, while the Dodgers piled on 10 runs off Knucksie and Chopper Campbell.
1980, vs, Reds. Knucksie had another opener to forget in ’80 as Cincy jumped out to a 8-0 lead after 3 innings. They’d end up with three times as many runs (9) as the Braves had hits — all singles. Newcomer Chris Chambliss had two of them.
The strangest: 1995, vs. Giants. The Wednesday, April 26 opener had the feel of a businessman’s special and a crowd to match: Only 32.045 showed up at Fulco to watch the first game since the ’94 strike. The Crime Dog had two homers, four hits and 5 RBI and Mad Dog cruised through five en route to a 12-5 win.
Best performance by a pitcher not named Rick Mahler (tie): The first major league game in Atlanta was started by Tony Cloninger, who went 13 innings, striking out 12. He had allowed only one run to score through 12, but a two-run homer by Willie Stargell in the 13th put the Pirates ahead to stay.
Seventeen years later, on a cold, windy afternoon in Wrigley, Greg Maddux, debuting as a Brave against his former team, was his usual masterful self. The Braves didn’t give him much help, scoring but one run, but that’s all Mad Dog would need.