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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Opening Day Memories

On Thursday the Red Sox should have been beginning the home portion of their schedule.  Alas circumstances mean that the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd and the smell of the sausages will not be assaulting our senses.  But it is worth taking a moment to think back to Opening Days past.  I’m sure we all have our own memories, I’ve had the good fortune to attend virtually every home opener since about 1980 and here are a few of my memories;

1981(ish) - It was COLD in our seats in the right field corner.  We were in the box seats down in the corner and it was cold and it was windy.  I remember my father complaining for awhile until a gentleman behind him passed him a flask.  “What’s that?” I inquired with 10 year old innocence.  “Oh nothing” he responded kindly.  He didn’t complain much as the flask kept getting refilled and passed around.

1983 - Carl Yastrzemski’s final home opener, Jim Rice was the undisputed star and the Blue Jays were in town.  Starter Dave Stieb came inside to the normally mild-mannered Jim Ed who took exception.  Rice took a few steps to the mound and the benches emptied. Last man out of the Sox dugout was Yaz himself using a bat as a cane.  I found it funny then and it gives me a chuckle now.

1992 - On this day I got to be part of a special group of Red Sox fans.  Just a couple days after his no hit loss against the Indians I got to be part of the only crowd in Fenway history that actually cheered poor Matt Young.

1993 - A rainout was declared as I journeyed from Keene State College where I was drinking heavily studying hard which meant I coudln’t go due to an exam.  My buddy Gary bought my tickets.  He swung by my parents’ house to pick them up and I had to stay in the Monadnock Valley watching on NESN.

2001 - Year one of what would be a 17 year season ticket odyssey.  Sitting in section 15, row 11, seat 15 Manny Ramirez strode to the plate for his first Fenway at bat as a Red Sox player.  I had my camera ready as we cheered and roared for our new slugger.  “I’ll keep yelling because Manny never swings at the first pitch” I thought…just before Manny launched the first pitch to the Mass Pike.

2003 - Manny was in the middle of this memory too.  This was the first year of the seats on top of the Monster and for the first three innings Manny kept spinning around from his spot in left field as if surprised that the seats that had been discussed endlessly were there.

2005 - As Etta James sang “at last.”  Watching the players and staff get their rings, watching the banners for the 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918 banners drop on the Monster then for that MASSIVE 2004 banner drop down, watching Pesky get his ring and finally watching as the most beautiful World Series banner in history was raised to the sky, it was a perfect day.  Right down to the ovation for Mariano and the leather lung fan who screamed “A-Rod you suck!” during the moment of silence for Dick Radatz.

2008 - Three years later was different but still just as wonderful.  Bill Buckner’s introduction caused Fenway to tremble with the cheers and the music for the player intros (a series of John Williams’ best loved movie themes) was the perfect accompaniment.

2014 - Ho hum another…yeah right, this does NOT get old.  This one was extra touching coming just under a year after the Marathon bombing and seeing the first responders (one of whom was the dad of a kid I coached at the time) was wonderful.

2019 - Year two without season tickets but I wasn’t going to miss yet another banner ceremony.  The Sox did it well as they always did though I have to admit I didn’t care for the amount of celebration of the Patriots’ most recent title as it felt like it should have been the Sox’ day.  But it was a wonderful tribute to the greatest Red Sox team in history.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 01, 2020 at 05:58 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jay Seaver Posted: April 01, 2020 at 07:24 PM (#5935670)
There have been ones with banners and such since then, but I don't think I'll ever have more fun at an opening day than driving down from Maine with my brother on 10 April 1998, moving from crappy right-field box seats to slightly less crappy right-field box seats as people left in disgust only to see the team provide the first evidence that trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek was a great idea, capped off by a Mo Vaughn grand slam.

On the way back, sports radio wanted to know if people had learned a valuable lesson.
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:18 PM (#5935689)
That’s one of the few home openers I haven’t attended in the last 40 years. I remember my roommate and I losing our #### when Vaughn hit that grand slam.
   3. karlmagnus Posted: April 03, 2020 at 11:56 AM (#5936200)
I may beat you guys on Sox longevity -- my first (and so far only) Sox home opener was the Patriots Day game in 1972

Alas, Sox lost 4-0 to Cleveland. It was a business school Section outing, and indeed my first live baseball game (I had moved from UK the previous year.) Don't remember much about the game -- not surprising as Sox players didn't do much -- but it was a very enjoyable day albeit FREEZING cold.

My next ballgame was even more enjoyable; warmer, Yaz homer and Sox won against Detroit to put them a game ahead in the division. Fenway still wasn't quite full, though -- friend and I got tickets at the box office on a walk-up basis.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: April 03, 2020 at 12:27 PM (#5936209)
Unless I went to one as a kid, I think I've only been to 2 home openers. The one in 2003 which was actually supposed to be home game #2 and Pedro let up a ton of runs. And then in 2018 - the game went to extras and we succumbed to the cold and watched the walk-off victory at the bar at Hojoku.
   5. villageidiom Posted: April 03, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5936256)
My first home opener was opening day 1985, Oil Can Boyd beating Phil Niekro and the Yankees 9-2. I had just turned 15, and I went to the game by myself. My high school was in Boston, and I had to commute there by bus and subway from the suburbs every day. And I knew where Fenway was & how to get there by subway. That was easy.

I thought the hard part was going to be ditching school, but my father wrote a note excusing me from school "so he can attend the Red Sox game". I had no concept that someone could be excused from school for anything other than illness, a death in the family, or maybe a court appearance? I was shocked when my father spelled it out in the note that I was going to the game, and even more shocked when the note was accepted. Man, fifteen years old and getting out of school early to take in Sox/Yanks on opening day, on my own. It was spectacular.
   6. toratoratora Posted: April 03, 2020 at 04:37 PM (#5936294)
Mine isn't a game memory.
In 2014, the Sox opened their season in Baltimore. I worked at a higher end restaurant and the Sox, especially the pitching staff, had been coming in when they were in town for a few years. Me and a coworker always took care of them and we must have done something right because Opening Day night, the Red Sox bought out the entire place and had a private party.
Pretty much everyone was there, John Henry, Cherington,and a laundry list of Sox royalty . They had all three recent Series trophies, passed them around, we even got to hold them. Everyone got hammered and celebrated winning the 2013 Series one last time.
It was awesome, like being at a clubhouse party. Best of all, because they knew us, they pretty much let us take part in the fun. Even the restaurant bosses weren't saying anything because the Sox spent a fortune that night and they knew we were the ones that brought them in.
And they tipped us mad good. We made total bank.
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: April 03, 2020 at 05:52 PM (#5936320)
That's great.
   8. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 03, 2020 at 06:12 PM (#5936326)
That’s a wonderful story.
   9. Hockeypbp Posted: April 13, 2020 at 07:19 PM (#5939372)
I attended that 1983 opener, then that night, went to the Garden for Bruins-Nordiques in the playoffs. Peter Stastny scored a first period hat trick to give Quebec a 3-0 lead. The Bruins would rally back for a 4-3 overtime win.

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