April 9, 1962 - a brand new stadium, a second-year Washington Senators expansion team, John F. Kennedy throwing out the first ball at the Presidential Opener - then Bennie Daniels, at 12-11 ace of the 1961 Nat staff, took over and delighted the 45,000 on hand by mowing down the Detroit Tigers, 4-1.

And today - time for another chorus of say it isn't so.

Bennie Daniels, who lost his next 10 decisions after that opening-day glory but hung around long enough to rate as the dean of the Nats' 1965 staff, was sentenced to California state prison yesterday for up to four years, less 112 days already spent in custody.

Daniels, 46, pleaded no contest Jan. 6 to a charge of misappropriating $107,000 while he was coordinator of the federally funded Comprehensive Employment Training Act program at Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in Los Angeles, October 1974 to February 1977. The prosecution said he altered time cards of young persons hired at the hospital to add to their work hours and pocketed the money.

Old promoting rivals Don King and Madison Square Garden are getting their acts together as copromoters, they will announce today in New York - leading off, they are expected to say, with a Sept. 8 Giants Stadium tripleheader featuring Larry Holmes' first defense of his WBC heavyweight title. Alfio Righetti, the 6-4 Italian policeman who dropped a rather close 10-round decision to WBA champ Leon Spinks last year, is the probable challenger. Roberto Duran and Alex Arguello also are lined up for title defenses on the card . . .

New Yankee skipper Bob Lemon's contract is indefinite, to say the least. "I don't know whether they're going to put me on a weekly, daily or monthly contract," he said. "If (the job) is interim, I could just sit home and draw pretty good money (from the White Sox) sitting on my butt" . . . Old Yankee skipper Billy Martin, saying he planned to go fishing, was asked, for what? "Sportswriters." What would he use for bait?" "Sharks"

The reporter for the Minnesota Daily, student newspaper on the Golden Gopher campus, who wrote quoting anonymous players on the football squad as saying Coach Cal Stoll was a generous font of illict financial help has refused to appear at a university hearing into the allegations. Afraid of giving his sources "any possible cause to suspect I might divulge their identities," said reporter Kark Vick . . .

Willis Reed, the Knick coach, on Red Auerbach staying in Boston: "I really kind of wanted it to happen (Auerbach take over as New York president) - for selfish reasons . . . I wanted to learn from him . . . sit there and pick up his brains out. Maybell I'll never get the chance to do that now"