Happy Opening Day

I suppose you could ask for a nicer day, but that would be greedy. It’s bright and sunny, a crispness in the air. The forecast is for more of the same this afternoon at Citi Field.

There should be two rules in baseball: Opening Day has beautiful weather and the home team wins.

Opening Day, it is written, is about renewal, about fresh starts, about optimism. It’s also about going home to your roots.

Wherever you are, and whatever your team, you tend to remember the team of your youth on Opening Day. I live in Connecticut, but the team of my youth was the Cleveland Indians. I follow the Mets now, but when I do glance at the standings, my eyes drift to the AL Central and the Indians. The AL Central, of course, didn’t exist when I was a kid.

Yes, I know. When I was a kid there were only two leagues and fire had just been invented.

The Indians I grew up with were just an average team at best, much like they are today. And, much like the Mets, I suppose. There’s the occasional good year, but most mediocrity. Enough spring promise to keep you interested.

I know many of you will have your favorite Opening Day memories. Maybe it was a Tom Seaver start. Perhaps it was Gary Carter’s first as a Met. It will be emotional today when Carter is remembered, but today is the perfect day to remember him. Afterall, there should be a lot of people in the stands today.

My favorite Opening Day memory was April 7, 1970, with the Indians losing 8-2 to Baltimore. I have thought about it a lot recently because this is the first Opening Day without my dad, who passed away at Christmas.

I remember this one particularly because my dad took my brother and myself out of school so he could take us to the game. He told the school we would remember that day because of the game more than anything we would learn in school that day. He was right.

This is a Mets blog, for baseball fans in general and Mets’ fans specifically. I presume most of you have always been passionate about the Mets, even lately when the prospects have been glum.

Why?

What is it about a baseball team that attracts you to it? Was it a player? Was it a moment with your dad or mom? Was it because you grew up in that town? Most of us can recall when we first started following a team, even your first day seeing them live.

I would be interested to know how and why you started following the Mets, along with your Opening Day memories.

I have kept this blog going because I am passionate about baseball and I appreciate my readers. I hope you’ll stop by again this year, regardless of how the Mets are doing, to share your thoughts and insights.

As always, they, and you, are appreciated. Have a great year.

 

10 thoughts on “Happy Opening Day

  1. I dont remember attending Opening Day games as a kid. With 5 kids, it was too much to corral all us kids to go to something so crazy. We only went to a few games a year, but when we went, it was an awesome time. I remember when I was 7, I had a hairline fracture in my neck and was forced to wear a cast around my head and chest. It was an awful looking thing. The game we went to it we felt like kings since we were in the field level seats instead of the upper deck. For one of the few times in life, I went and got autographs… one from Ellis Valentine. He was such a nice guy… and then he hit a HR that day. So now whenever Im looking through baseball cards or my strat-o-matic cards, I remember that day at the park, and Ellis Valentine…This is one reason why I never go and ask for an autograph now. It means so much to the kids to just get that 1 autograph.

    My opening day memory was Tom Glavine’s first start as a Met. I was living in Massachusetts and was trying to continue going to games…. My friend was responsible for buying the tickets… and forgot. So when I came down the day before… he informs me we have to go to Shea to buy tickets… for opening day. Never have i been so pissed. So we go to Shea real early on Monday morning and wait in line… hoping and praying we can get 2 tickets…. which we do. field level. single seats. So I traveled down to NY for opening day and Im sitting by myself…. But thats ok. Glavine is here. He’s going to lead us back to the top… Ive never been so excited for a season. It didnt matter it was so cold (39 degress) and windy (20mph winds). It was opening day. It was the start of a new era. And before I could even get comfortable in my seat… Walk. Double. Single. Double. 3-0. Top 1st. No outs. Wonderful start. Opening Day 2003 was the first time I have ever voluntarily left a game early. I dont believe in leaving early. I paid for the ticket… Im watching the whole damn game. But this game was so bad and the Mets looked so pathetic that I couldnt stay around past the 6th inning. 15-2 final score. And this game forever jaded me as a Mets fan. Sure there were many lean years in the 90’s, but this team, this one game, crushed my optimism as a fan.

    Ive been to many Mets games through the years… Lots of great memories with my dad. But the one thing I learned from him is how to enjoy the game for its nuances. There was nothing better than sitting in the stands for a double header watching baseball all day and discussing and debating each pitch and at bat. Going to a game wasnt about just watching, it was about strategy, positioning, and fully understanding what is happening. I’ll forever be grateful for my dad teaching me how to watch sports …and most of all, how to keep score… a tradition he keeps up to this day… in fact, he kept score for all the spring training games we went to in Arizona this year.

    Here’s hoping this will be an exciting year for the Mets and its fans.

    • Jason: Thanks for your memories. I remember getting autographs as a kid. We didn’t get them signed on cards or photographs, but on game programs and sheets of notebook paper. I never would have thought to get my cards signed. … I don’t remember Glavine’s first game as a Met. I do, however, remember his last one. Just as sterling. But, all in all, I liked getting Glavine. Too bad they never scored any runs for him. … I too, like the little nuances of the game. And, for your dad to keep score during spring training games is amazing. My scorecards during spring training were a mess. Thanks.-JD

  2. And thanks John. You help this displaced mets fan stay close to his team, good or bad.

  3. I suppose when I was growing up in the 1960s it was baseball and a few minor sports. Alright, the NFL was starting to become the dominant sport. But that was a 14 weekend sport. Baseball was everyday for six months. Plus if ypu played it as a kid, everyone got a chance to bid. It was rare that I ever got to run the ball in football and even rarer (never maybe) to throw it.
    Opening Day Mets memory? Probably Carter’s home run after the big winter trade in 1985. Seaver’s return would be close but there was a bit of a “walk down memory lane to distract the people that we are lousy” aspect to reacquiring Seaver in 1983. But who knew that a year later the Mets would lose him when the Blue Jays signed Dennis Lamp and the White Sox got Seaver as compensation, Special thanks to Bowie Kuhn and the owners who demanded such a compensation system, forced a two month strike and gave us the split season that didn’t have the two best NL teams in the post season.

    • Dan: Ah, the good old days when there was labor unrest in baseball. … You mentioned football. For some reason I remember those games when baseball and football teams shared stadiums. You could see the yardline markers in the outfield and the infield was basically ruined in September.-JD

  4. I don’t remember how I became a Mets fan. i suppose the guy in the apartment next to me in Brooklyn was a fan and I just fell into it.

    What cemented it for me was the early mid 80’s teams. Watching Doc ,Gary ,Hernandez and the crew was a delight. I have Tim McCarver to thank for teaching me how great Keith was as a player.

  5. Like Dave, I don’t even remember how I became a Mets fan. It’s always come second nature to me, like breathing. My dad — also a passionate Mets fan — must’ve made me one. Growing up in Westchester County and watching the Mets games on Channel 9 really helped.
    As for Opening Day, I’ve only been to a few; the last one I attended was the 2007 one, when the Mets beat the Phillies.
    Like Jason, I was at that miserable opener in ’03 — and it was my wife’s first-ever game at Shea. I remember fans mocking Glavine with the Tomahawk Chop chant when he was taken out and cheering for former Met Lenny Harris after he got a run-scoring hit.
    My favorite opener — although I wasn’t there — has to be ’06, as that was my all-time favorite Mets team. I was living in San Diego then and DVR-ed and watched the game later that day. What a great game — a D-Wright homer; Brooklynite Paul LoDuca coming home; Xavier Nady going 4-for-4; Anderson Hernandez’s spectacular defensive gem at second base; Billy Wagner’s striking out the first batter he ever faced as a Met, then nailing down a save…and Aaron Heilman actually protecting a lead…ah, the good old days!