Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Opening Day and Record High Temps

Weather and baseball are two of my passions since childhood.  I can't remember the first time I really had a genuine interest in atmospheric science.  I've been swing a baseball bat ever since I could pick one up when I was 2 years old.  The time between seasons is kind of a let-down.  Continuous cold bouts here in Cleveland coupled with unpredictable lake effect snow events with countless "Alberta Clipper" snows (fast moving cold fronts from Canada) make the months of November, December, January and February slow to a crawl.

As Opening Day neared this year, I was tossing around several ideas on combining weather and baseball into an article. The weather has been cold.  Fans dream of a far off day when the temperatures get to a tolerable level--anything above 40!   Then it hit me:  Has anyone performed a correlation between Opening Day and record high temperatures?  If not, then now is a good time considering most of the eastern half of the country has experienced below normal temperatures from early December to late February.  People want warmth and they want it now.  Why not go for the extreme! Check out how much of the country has been below normal this winter...

Many historical articles on weather and baseball have been written for sure. Yet not many on Opening Day, Baseball and Record High Temperatures. More specifically, have we ever broke a high temperature on Opening Day in ANY GAME?

I first narrowed my search to teams that have a history that goes back to the early 20th century.  The final list of teams were:  BOSTON, CLEVELAND, DETROIT, CINCINNATI, NEW YORK, ST. LOUIS, PHILADELPHIA, CHICAGO AND ATLANTA (Including Boston Braves). I chose the Cubs versus the White Sox since there history goes back further.  I also threw Atlanta in the list due to their southern latitude. 

All 9 teams have played in 1108 games on Opening Day at their home ballpark through 2010.

Cross-referencing these games with the record high temperature on that day in THAT year, I came up with only 8 games where we broke the high temperature:

4-15-1941  Philadelphia A's vs Boston Braves - W 6-5

4-21-1921 Boston Braves vs. Washington Senators - L 1-0
4-20-1945 Boston Braves vs. Philadelphia A's - L 5-3

4-22-1938 New York Yankees vs. Washington Senators - W 7-0
4-17-1945 New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Soxs - W 8-4

4-22-1925 St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds - W 12-3
4-9-2001 St. Louis vs. Coloroado Rockies - W 3-2

4-16-1896 Cicninnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates - L 9-1

Weather records go back to the late 1800s for the cities in the east.  Historical weather is highlighted by the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.  So I figured I would have found more records broke in the dust bowl days of the 1930s.  That wasn't the case.  Temps were cooler than average.

Average temps in April from 1931-1940 are seen here:

How about the warm decade of the 2000s according to NASA?  Also, not the case. Just one record high temperature was reached in the 2000s.

Average temps in April from 2001 to 2010 is seen here:

The chances of breaking a record high temperature on Opening Day in your home ballpark is more luck of the draw. It only happens 0.7% of the time.  I'll take those horrible chances than another Opening Day 2007 at Jacobs Field:  Snow, wind, temperatures in the upper 20s.