The Royals arrived in Detroit for the season opener on Thursday. Kansas City manager Whitey Herzog announced that veteran lefthander Paul Splittorff would get the honors on the mound; Detroit manager Ralph Houk planned to counter with his own seasoned southpaw, Dave Roberts. The Tigers’ 1976 ace, Mark Fidrych, had recently undergone knee surgery.
The Opening Day forecast was not a pleasant one: temperatures in the 30s with a chance for flurries.
Herzog’s expected lineup card included George Brett at third base, Hal McRae as the DH, Amos Otis in center field, John Mayberry at first base, Al Cowens in right field, rookie Joe Zdeb in left field, Buck Martinez catching, and the keystone duo of shortstop Freddie Patek and second baseman Frank White. The UPI calculated the 1977 salaries for this lineup at $949,000, which ranked fifth in the AL, just behind Texas.
The rest of the Royals’ Opening Day roster included pitchers Doug Bird, Jim Colborn, Larry Gura, Tom Hall, Andy Hassler, Dennis Leonard, Mark Littell, Steve Mingori, and Marty Pattin; catchers Darrell Porter and John Wathan; and infielders Bob Heise, Pete LaCock, Dave Nelson, and Cookie Rojas. Both Wathan and LaCock had outfield experience as well.
1977 baseball news: Major league baseball returned to the Pacific Northwest as the Seattle Mariners took the field for the first time. It was not a memorable debut, as the California Angels thumped the home team, 7-0. Former Kansas City Athletics pitcher Diego Segui had the honor of throwing the first pitch in franchise history; Segui had also been part of the 1969 Pilots team that left Seattle and moved to Milwaukee after just one season. Meanwhile, the traditional Opening Day game in Cincinnati almost didn’t happen, as three inches of snow fell before the game and wind chills dipped into the mid-teens. But the game was played as scheduled, with the Reds picking up a 5-3 win over San Diego.
Today’s birthday: Marty Pattin (1943)