With 2020 Opening Day delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sporting News employees remember their most memorable Opening Days of the past.
Opening day always feels special. Each one brings new hopes and new emotions. Some are more memorable than others, and some are memorable for reasons that have little to do with what's going on in the field.
My most memorable opening day was April 1, 1996, my first opening day. I was a sophomore in college, and my friends and I went to Atlanta to see the Braves welcome the Giants, but also to see the Braves get their 1995 World Series rings. He had the ingredients to A great day, but the experience was doomed almost from the beginning.
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For starters, we left our bedroom without our tickets, but we didn't discover this until we were almost in Atlanta. So once we got to town, we spent a fair amount of time trying to find affordable second-hand tickets on the street. We finally got some, but then it took us a while to find a place to park. By the time we figured all that out and started our walk to the stadium, the pregame ceremonies were already underway, and, spoiler, we missed the Braves who received their World Series championship rings.
We also missed most of the first inning when we made our way to our seats on the top deck of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. I remember hearing a radio call from a Ryan Klesko home run in the first inning as we ran down the esplanade. Among the other things we lost during that 15 minute span: Greg Maddux at his best throwing at Barry Bonds at his best. Suboptimal.
When we finally reached our seats on the upper deck, I quickly realized that it was going to be a long day. This was a 1:10 local start, and the temperature was 55 degrees. It's not terrible, but the wind was spinning on the upper deck and I was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. Then it felt much colder than 55 degrees. I vaguely recall telling me that morning to dress more warmly, but then convincing myself that things would be better for the game because, hey, it's opening day, it's spring in the south! It will be OK! It was not good.
The weather became a factor for me that I hardly remember much about the game other than the generalities. I remember there were a lot of home runs (seven, according to the Baseball Reference), but I don't remember seeing any of them. In addition to the Klesko home run I mentioned earlier, the other I remember came from Jerome Walton of the Braves. And I only remember that because I heard it in the car, because we left the game around the seventh inning to escape the cold wind. It is still the only time I leave a game early. The Braves won the fight, 10-8.
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On a somber note, I also learned during the radio broadcast in the car that referee John McSherry had died. He had a heart attack and collapsed seven pitches at the Reds-Expos game in Cincinnati and then died in a hospital. That game was obviously postponed.
Somewhere in South Carolina along I-85 North we stopped at a Shoney & # 39; s for dinner. It was still cold and I was starving. I had chicken cream. I'm not usually a type of soup, but my mind was focused on the heat. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is the best soup I have ever had. It was the perfect meal at the perfect time. The physical heat I assumed would come from being at a baseball game on opening day appeared in that bowl.
I've been on several opening days since then, both as a fan and as a writer. I remember some of them well, some vaguely and others barely. Despite the drama and relative discomfort, I look back fondly on Opening Day 1996. Although little went well that day, it's actually one of my best baseball memories.
That's why when I hear the words "Opening Day," my mind often travels back to those lost World Series rings, some hot soup, and a cold day in Atlanta.