That old adage really came into play for Hal Newhouser of the Detroit Tigers in 1945.
Newhouser was not successful in either of his opening performances that season. He lost on Opening Day and in the first game of the World Series.
However, it was his finish that made it a memorable year for the lefthander.
Opening Day for the Tigers was at Sportsman Park on April 17.
Newhouser was the Most Valuable Player the year before, so it must have been quite shocking that he was the losing pitcher in a 7-1 decision to the St. Louis Browns. He lasted six innings and gave up five runs on eight hits. Likely, it wasn’t what was expected from Newhouser, who was 29-9 in 1944.
At 24, Newhouser responded and finished the season with a 25-9 record to earn a second straight MVP honor as he led the Tigers to the World Series to face the Chicago Cubs.
As with his first start of the season, Newhouser’s initial trip to the mound in the opener of the World Series was unspectacular. The Tigers fell 9-0 to the Cubs after Newhouser gave up four runs in the first inning. He would leave two innings later.
But Newhouser answered the call later in the series. He tossed complete game victories in the fifth and seventh contests as the Tigers won the title.
Newhouser won the Triple Crown for pitching in 1945 with 25 wins, 212 strikeouts with an 1.81 ERA.
In his 17-year career, the seven-time all-star finished with a 207-150 mark with all but seven of the victories for the Tigers. Newhouser pitched during the 1954-55 seasons for the Cleveland Indians.
The Detroit native was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.