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Mets Blogger Roundtable: Opening Day Memories

With the Mets 2018 season beginning today, we are all hopeful that this will be the first Mets team since 1986 to win a World Series.  If history is any judge, fans will depart Citi Field with that feeling as the New York Mets do have the best winning percentage on Opening Day.  Whether the good feelings and warm memories continue from there is anyone’s guess.

As you look to turn on the television or head to the ballpark, we thought we would share some of our Opening Day memories with you in the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Two words: Collin Cowgill (That’s not my actual answer)

I think I’m going to cheat here. The first game that came to mind for favorite Opening Day memory was the Mets’ home opener in 2000. It was their first game played in North America, if that helps? The Mets split a two-game set in Japan the week before and then faced off against the Padres at Shea, and I was there. It was my first time attending a home opener, and I had to bend the rules that day too, seeing as I was, technically speaking, scheduled to continue my high school education that afternoon. A couple of friends and I cut class, took the 2/3, transferred to the 7, sauntered up to the ticket window, bought four tickets, and enjoyed a 2-1 victory. I brazenly put the schedule magnet giveaway on the refrigerator, and as far as I know was never caught. Please do not tell my mother.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

My favorite Opening Day memory was Tom Seaver‘s 1983 Opening Day start.  It was tremendous.

The details of Seaver’s homecoming were detailed in this Sports Illustrated piece.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

This one has me stumped since I have not been to a Mets opening day since the Shea days. One that stands out is the chilly home opener for Tom Glavine. A 15-2 Mets loss I believe. Good times.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I cut school to go to Opening Day in 1980. My mother wrote a note to the teacher saying “sorry my son was absent. He went to Opening Day. P.S. the Mets won 5-2.” The teacher let me off the hook but only because the Mets won. I cut school in 1983 to see Seaver’s return as a Met. I cut school in 1988 to see Darryl Strawberry hit a HR on Opening Day, then left early to get back to theater rehearsal, and I had to platoon style elbow crawl my way under the director so she wouldn’t know I was gone. Luckily they never got to my scene yet so I was out of trouble. Until we left for the day and the director said “How was the game?” As many times as I cut school for Opening Day, it’s a wonder I can put a sentence together.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend 17 Opening Days/Home Openers (18, counting the first home game after the 1981 strike, which was functionally a second Home Opener), my favorite among them the 2001 Home Opener, when the 2000 NL pennant was raised, we were handed replica championship flags on our way in, Tsuyoshi Shinjo introduced himself to us with a homer, Mike Piazza socked two, the Mets obliterated the Braves and, not incidentally, the weather was perfect.

But with all due respect to the thrill of being on hand to, as Howie Rose says, welcome the National League season to New York, my core Opening Day memory is from 1975, when I convinced a friend to skip Hebrew School and watch the rest of the first game of that season.

The game began while we were still in shall we say regular school (sixth grade). Our teacher put the Mets and Phillies on the classroom TV. One wise guy tried to switch to the Yankees. Out of pique, the teacher switched it off.

Fast forward a bit, and my aforementioned friend and I went to my house to catch a little more of the game before we had to get to Hebrew School. This was Seaver versus Steve Carlton, and it was such an occasion that I said to him, “I’m not going to Hebrew School today.” He was convinced to not go, either.

We watched to the end and were rewarded for our truancy. Seaver pitched a complete game. Dave Kingman homered in his first game as a Met, and Joe Torre (also a new Met) drove in the winning run in the ninth, or what we would today call walkoff fashion. The whole winter was about reconstructing a dismal 1974 squad and hoping Seaver would be healthy. For one day, everything clicked as we dreamed.

The other thing I remember distinctly was Bob Murphy hosting the TV postgame show, first time we ever saw anybody but Ralph Kiner in that role. I learned decades later that Ralph was holding out for an increase in his Kiner’s Korner deal, which he eventually got.

There’ve been more dramatic Opening Days since, but that one will always be Opening Day Like It Oughta Be to me.

There’ve been some unfortunate Opening Day/Night results over the years, but there’s nothing about beginning a baseball season that doesn’t have at least one inherent saving grace to it. At last, we are in baseball season.

Mets Daddy

There are two that readily stick out in my mind.  The first was 1995, the first year after the strike.  It was also my first Opening Day.  I remember the tickets were cheap, and the crowd was rowdier than usual with many people running onto the field.  It first seemed like protest, and then it just seemed to morph into a drunken stupor.  John Franco blowing a 9th inning save chance, and the Mets blowing leads in the 13th and 14th innings were really just afterthoughts to all the mayhem and the fact baseball was finally back in our lives.

My favorite Opening Day was the 2006 Opening Day.  With the Mets obtaining Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca in the offseason, there was an anticipation the 2006 team could be a special one.

That day certainly was.  Xavier Nady, the guy Omar gambled on when he traded Mike Cameron to the Padres, immediately made himself welcome to fans with an RBI double.  David Wright was showered with MVP chants which only reverberated louder when he homered.  Anderson Hernandez made an incredible defensive play at second.  Then Billy Wagner entered the game to “Enter Sandman” to close out the game.

I remember feeling this was a team capable of winning a World Series.  I also remember my Dad taking the longer way home so we can get our free Bobbleheads from P.C. Richard and because we could hear Mike and the Mad Dog, who were in rare form, going bezerk over the audacity for Wagner to use Mariano Rivera‘s entrance song.

One fun thing about doing this Roundtable is I discovered Joe, Roger, and I were all at the 2003 homer opener.  This is part of my fun in doing these Roundtables, and I hope some of the fun you have is getting a snippet of the fine work from some fellow Mets fans.  I hope this encourages you to visit their sites.

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