The first game of the MLB season brings back special moments and memories for fans and players alike. Every team has a perfect record, every fan believes this will be the year and any player can be a home run leader with a single swing of the bat [see pull quote!!].
The regular season begins on ESPN with seven games in two days across Sunday, April 2 and Monday, April 3. More than 10 MLB commentators will be involved in game telecasts over the course of those days in addition to SportsCenter reporters at various locations.
In advance of ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of the start of baseball, a collection of MLB analysts shared their favorite Opening Day memories.
“Opening Day 1998 with the Cincinnati Reds I will always remember. It was my first time making the Opening Day roster. I was not in the starting lineup but was still pretty nervous. Marge Schott [who often traveled with her 170-pound St. Bernard, Schottzie] was our owner, so animals had a significant presence. All of a sudden about 10 minutes before the game was supposed to start an elephant relieved itself in front of our dugout. Strangely, it had a calming effect on me.”
“I was the Opening Day starter in 2009 (Oakland Athletics). It’s one of the greatest feelings and honors when your organization has the confidence in you to give you the ball and let you lay the first brick in the foundation of the season for your team. Putting that uniform on for the first time is a near out of body experience. It’s a spiritual awakening.”
“I will always remember Opening Day in Montreal one year when they did a ‘Survivor’ recreation, complete with grass skirt dancers and fire-filled tiki [torches] that they would snuff out as a symbol of what they were going to do to us. Drums and deep spiritual incantations were included. It was really creative.”
“My favorite Opening Day memory is being behind the centerfield bleachers with my teammates at Safeco Field in 2004. The anticipation of my name being called, running through the smoke, on the red carpet, onto the most beautiful park in baseball, and being in the starting lineup, is a memory I will always cherish. I had returned to Seattle on a three-year deal to be the everyday left fielder after being a role player for the Mariners for parts of the previous five years. The feeling of the cold Seattle breeze and knowing that I was going to be a fixture in that lineup with one of my idols named Edgar Martinez, for his last season, is a feeling I will always remember.”
“My favorite Opening Day was clearly my first. It was an overcast day on the south side of Chicago for an early afternoon start. The Kansas City Royals were in town to participate in my childhood dream being realized. I didn’t start the game but I came in late for defense. Everything felt surreal, the stage I was standing on in left field was the perfect view. The balls were brighter than any I had ever played with. The thousands of fans surrounding me felt like a huge celebration.”
“I will always remember the 1992 Opening Day at Camden Yards because of how beautiful the ballpark was, how its beauty remains and the 2-0, complete-game win!”