Chicago Cubs History: Tuffy Rhodes Goes Off on Opening Day
Tuffy Rhodes hit a total of three home runs in the entire 1993 campaign. On this day in 1994, Rhodes became the first player to hit three homers on Opening Day, despite a Chicago Cubs loss.
Tuffy Rhodes had originally been known as a speedster in the minors. He once had 65 steals and just eight extra base hits in season, doing so in 1988. However, as he grew, Rhodes lost the speed and became more of a power hitter, belting 30 homers in 1993. He had become a promising prospect, one that was expected to be a part of the Chicago Cubs future.
That especially looked like it was the case on this day in 1994. Rhodes, who had a total of five major League home runs, and three in his 20 games in 1993, hit his way into the history books. Slotted as the Cubs leadoff hitter, Rhodes absolutely victimized Mets starter Dwight Gooden, belting three homers in his first three at bats.
Not only did Rhodes belt three homers, he did so in his first three at bats. Gooden allowed all three homers, as he struggled on the day. In his 5.2 innings, he gave up seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits. However, as Mike Morgan was even worse for the Cubs, Gooden came away with the win in the Mets 12-8 victory.
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Naturally, it seemed as though Rhodes was about to fulfill his promise. However, that Opening Day barrage was not indicitive of what Rhodes would become in the Majors. He hit five more homers all season, and was out of the Majors by the end of the 1995 season.
While Rhodes failed to become a feared slugger in the Majors, unless one considered Gooden’s nightmares, he became a star in Japan. He began his career with 27 homers in 1996, and in 2001, he tied the legendary Sadaharu Oh’s record with 55 homers in a season.
Rhodes would end up spending a record 13 years in Japan. He belted 464 homers in Japan, and was second all time with six 40 homer seasons. Rhodes became the 23rd player in NPB history to have 3500 total bases, as he became one of the biggest stars of the game. He finally fulfilled his potential, albeit several thousand miles away from where it was expected.
Nonetheless, Tuffy Rhodes put his name into the MLB history books. On this day in 1994, the Chicago Cubs leadoff hitter belted three homers in his first three at bats, becoming the first player to do so.