Ron Darling, SNY.tv
Opening Day has come and gone, and I was surprised how both sad and nostalgic I felt this past Thursday. I've decided to write some things down as I've entered my 60th year on this planet, one that seems more compromised than ever.
Opening Day day for a ballplayer is like no other day. Putting on your new, crisp uniform and making sure it fits just right. Is the length perfect, the waist slightly snug and the rise roomy enough for the protective cup which will be part of your armor for the next six months? Vanity is part of your power, like Superman's cape. Do I look good? A real question that needs to be answered in the affirmative. Is your gamer (glove) ready to go and is your backup, in your locker, game ready in case of a mishap?
If you've done your due diligence, spring training broke your spikes in just right. Which jacket are they handing out this year (there's always a new one), because the weather is always unseasonably cold in the Northeast (Damn Dodgers!). Everything perfect? #LFG.
My first Opening Day was in Cincinnati (hard to spell, no?) in 1984. Having your name announced and taking your place along the third base line for the first time is exhilarating. It is usually in numerical order (unless you're in the lineup), so I was somewhere between Ron Hodges and Walt Terrell. Box score from the game below.
I had Game 2, but the Queen City had always hosted baseball's Opening Day since they were its oldest team and in the infancy of the game the Reds were the southern-most city. Fields were a bit different then.
Before Game 1, I had to do a live hit on Good Morning America with Tony Perez, the Reds' star first baseman. When I was 15, I remember he hit a lobbed curveball for a home run in the 1975 World Series. Bill Lee was the victim.
Tony could not have been nicer to me and our live hit went well. He was less nervous than I, and he was doing the interview in his second language. I will remember that moment always.
Stay healthy, be kind to each other and PEACE.