We really do live for this

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The RAB MLB ’08 The Show Giveaway Contest

I remember the year I needed a note to go to Opening Day.

It was 1995, and I was 12. I had never been to Opening Day before, and I really wanted to go. I had just lived the last eight and a half months without baseball, and I vividly remember my mom telling me on the morning of August 12, 1994 that baseball was going on strike. While at the time, I didn’t understand the financial implications of the labor battles, I knew that my life would be without baseball for an excruciatingly long period of time.

When April 1995 rolled around and the MLBPA and owners announced a strike settlement, I spent days lobbying my parents. “Please can we go to Opening Day?” I’d ask numerous times a day. Finally, as the delayed Opening Day crept closer and closer, my parents told me that yes, we could go to Opening Day.

April 26 — Opening Day 1995 — was a Wednesday, and my sixth grade class had plans to go see our high school’s dress rehearsal for Anything Goes, the annual musical. I would have to leave the production toward the end, and for that, I needed a note. Dressed in full Yankee regalia in honor of Opening Day, I snuck out of school early that day as my dad took me and my sister, then 7, to our first Opening Day game.

The game was a blast. The crowd of 50,425, still sore at the players for their eight-month walk-out and the owners for canceling the 1994 World Series that could have seen the Yanks face off against a very potent Montreal Expos team, was rowdy from the get-go. That day would be only the day until the ALDS that the Yanks would break the 50,000+ attendance mark. Those were the days.

The game itself lived up to all my Opening Day expectations. I witnessed the pomp and circumstance of Bob Sheppard, then a sprightly 84, announcing the lineup. There was Buck Showalter in his trademark jacket. Wade Boggs, Jim Leyritz, Paul O’Neill, Danny Tartabull, Don Mattingly, Mike Stanley, Bernie Williams, Tony Fernandez and Pat Kelly lined up along the first base line while Jimmy Key warmed up in the bullpen. As the National Anthem began, all was right in my world.

The Yanks won that day, 8-6. Tartabull homered in the second inning to deep left-center, and the Yanks never looked back. Jimmy Key went 5 innings, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits, but Kenny Rogers was worse. For the Rangers, he threw 3 innings and gave up 4 earned runs before Johnny Oates yanked him from the game. Bernie hit a home run; Pat Kelly went 3 for 4; and John Wetteland threw a perfect ninth for the save.

Since that day, I’ve been to a few more Opening Days. In 2002, still recovering from that heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, I trekked down from college outside of Philadelphia to Baltimore to catch the Yankees and Roger Clemens lose badly to the Orioles.

Last season, my first full baseball season back in New York after four years of college and ten months spent living in Washington, DC, I sat in the left field bleachers as Carl Pavano became the most infamous Yankee Opening Day starter of all time. When Alex Rodriguez‘s 8th inning home run to left center cleared the fence, little did I know that a historic MVP season would unfold in front of New York only to cumulate in a dramatic opt-out during the final outs of the World Series and a subsequent reconciliation. The Yanks won that one, beating Scott Kazmir and the Devil Rays 9-5.

So here we are again. It’s Opening Day 2008, and the baseball slate is wiped clean. We have a glorious schedule of 162 games ahead of us. We have summer nights at a jam-packed Yankee Stadium and tense late-season games in Fenway Park. We have full seasons from the much-heralded young guns, a swan song for a baseball Cathedral and a July filled with an All Star spectacle.

This is Opening Day, and this is what makes baseball great.

The River Ave. Blues Commenter Guidelines
The RAB MLB ’08 The Show Giveaway Contest
  • askollar

    First of all that 95 opening day I was actually interviewed before the game and the put the wrong name when it was on TV that night.

    My opening day stories are interesting also…I was born in late Feb of 1986 and my dad brought me to my first game that april for opening day. Since then I have gone to every single home opener and it is something I want to continue and give to my son one day also. Tomorrow will be my 23rd straight and I cannot wait!!!

    • Drew

      Born on April fool’s…. i’m so sorry :-P The 9th is just so much better.

  • Bryan S

    Going to my 4th straight Padres opener tomorrow (including last year up in San Francisco!)…I’ll be watching the Yanks in the morning and the Dodgers in the afternoon. I’m just looking forward to baseball again…tonight’s Nats-Braves opener whetted my appetite for more good baseball. Here’s to a fun, competitive season and a great Pads-Yanks series in mid-June. :-)

  • Matt K

    Last year was my first opening day, won’t be making it this year as I go to school in buffalo now. I will be skipping two classes so I can watch the game. Goining to class was never an option.

  • barry

    I live for this.

  • http://myspace.com/lincolnsworld Link

    I’ve never been fortunate enough to catch opening day in person but I usually have my eyes glued to the tv…dang Ben 12? I was a HS senior in 95 lol….

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  • Drew

    Wow your so lucky, I haven’t been to opening day since i was about 8 [1990]. Hell, i couldn’t even get tickets to ANY of the dozen or so games i wanted to/could go to this year and i tried for 2 hours when they came on sale at 10am a few weeks ago. Somehow i miss the good ole days of going w/ my dad to a game and then moving all the way up to sit by the dug out across from mattingly at first base. Although i will admit its nice to win.

    Eh age is irrelevant in baseball, if you love the game and know it thats all that matters. I actually really like redsox fans… as long as they know their stuff, i just respectfully decline to agree with just about any of their opinions :-).

  • beantownbosoxh8er

    No matter how much they should have canceled the 04 series ,it was the 1994 series that was nixed.
    Sorry Ben I had to point this out. it must have been some Freudian slip.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      There was a 2004 World Series?

      • Drew

        whats this I hear about a world series in ’04? I remember no such thing

  • http://www.magicball.net LBA Prequel

    Dressed in full Yankee regalia in honor of Opening Day, I snuck out of school early that day as my dad took me and my sister, then 7, to our first Opening Day game.

    Truancy FTW!!! :-D

  • mustang

    I actually don’t like going to opening day. It’s always just too cold and I never thought it was a big deal.
    However, one year I forget which one maybe you guys can help me after I describe it I went with a friend and my wife. Andy Pettitte was the starter and with my luck it was freezing and later in the game it even started to snow. Mr. Steinbrenner was nice enough to offer the fans at the game that day a choice to come back and watch one of three games later in the season. I felt so bad for my wife who is not crazy about baseball that I ask her to pick from the three games that were
    offered. One of the teams was Seattle and she ask me “isn’t Ken Griffey, Jr. on that team” and I said yes. She said I like him lets go to that game so we did. As it turn out it was Dwight Gooden’s no hitter. Still to this day my minded blows up thinking of the odds on the whole thing.
    Can anyone tell me the year?

    • Bryan S

      I’m pretty sure it was in 1996. I believe this is probably the game you are talking about. Future Padre Sterling Hitchcock was Doc’s opponent that day…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      1996. I was up in Tier Reserved down on the 1B side (can’t remember the number). Greatest sports moment in my life.

  • kunaldo

    96 i think

  • kunaldo

    damn, he walked 6?!

  • Manimal

    I skipped school today to watch the whole game on TV.

    Unfortunately, being a Die-hard yanks fan in Massachusetts isn’t easy. I still manage to go to atleast a game a year.

    2 years a go. Melky hit a walk off hr in a 8-hour rainy extra inning game. The homerun landed a deck under me you can see me, my uncle, my dad and my brother with our arms in the air.

    Last year we went to tampa for 2 games. We saw Jeter and Arod go back to back(We only saw one since we were getting hot dogs)

    Those are the only games I remember fully. I did go to the 98′ All star game at fenway and I was 7, that was pretty special.

    Thats my yankee life story =P

    • Bryan S

      I’m skipping work; my school is on spring break this week. In 12 hours I’ll be at the ballpark…this is like Christmas morning for me. I’m incredibly excited about the possibilities but I have no idea what will happen…

      • Manimal

        Hows the weather in New york? Its starting to get overcast in MA.

        • Bryan S

          It’s clear and sunny here in San Diego. High of 61 today. Great baseball weather. :)

  • mustang

    Thank you Bryan S I just printed out that page to go with the tickets stubs. Looking back on it now I can’t believe that line up didn’t get a hit. A-Rod, Griffey, Martinez and Buhner my God !!!!
    I also remember that Gooden had just come back from Tampa and working Connors because he was doing so bad. You just never know.

    • Bryan S

      Just goes to show anything can happen in this game, and often does. I wish a Padre could do that… :)

  • mustang

    I remember around the 6 inning trying to explain to my wife what was going on without saying the words ” no hitter “. I just gave trying when in the 7th as loud as could be she goes ” Oh! I get it he is throwing a no hitter ” about 20 eyes looked back at her. I said to myself he better throw a no hitter or I might be fighting my way out here. LOL

    • Bryan S

      I’ve given up on trying to not jinx them because years of watching the Padres get oh-so-close to the no-no and fail have made me believe that nothing we as fans can say has any effect on it, outside of making noise if you’re seeing it happen in person. In the last 10 years I’ve seen 2 of our starters (Ashby and Young) get within 2 outs of finishing it and fall short, as well as many others who haven’t gotten as close. My feeling is that I can’t possibly make it any worse by saying something, since it’s clear that we can’t do it anyway.

      That being said, Peavy is going to throw a no-hitter tonight. I can feel it. lol

  • NYFan50

    I imagine that Hell is just one giant offseason that never ends.

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