Well baseball fans today is opening day for the vast majority of teams across minor league baseball, although my teammates with the Akron Aeros opened our season yesterday with a 9-5 victory over the Bowie Baysox in the first of out nearly 30 meetings this year. It was a pretty blustery affair, with temperatures down around freezing by the end of the game, but I guess that is to be expected of Ohio in April. Each opening day is a unique experience and in the spirit of the moment, I’d like to share some of my opening day memories with you.
My first opening day experience in professional baseball, despite being at awful Russell Dietrick Park in Jamestown, NY might be my favorite. Of course, the fondness with which I remember this particular opening day had very little to do with the actual experience of the day, which was actually pretty dismal, and everything to do with the experience that led up to it. Having signed with the Indians in August 2005 I spent a month in Winter Haven, FL for the instructional league, reported to Winter Haven for spring training and finally got stuck in extended spring training for the full two months. So for those of you keeping track at home that is the first 4+ months of my professional career in Winter Haven, one of the crappiest places on earth. Combine that with the excitement of making my professional debut and it was a memorable time, despite the unmemorable place and circumstances.
Opening day with the Lake County Captains in 2007 was a very unique and memorable experience. It was on the road in Charleston, WV in one of my favorite minor league ballparks. The stadium is built right into an old refurbished warehouse that houses the locker rooms, batting cages, a restaurant and the team offices. Throw in its location in downtown Charleston (a pretty cool old town) and the setting is pretty sweet, but I digress. What makes this game so memorable was the fact that in about the 3rd or 4th inning it started snowing pretty heavily and only got postponed once a handful of balls were put in play and absolutely nobody had any idea where they went.
Last year with the Kinston Indians I encountered probably the most ridiculous set of circumstances for an opening day. It was a fairly nondescript opening day until the third inning when a city wide power outage turned off the lights and suspended the game. The problem was compounded by weather wiping out our next two games, so it was a rather inauspicious start to the year.
And that brings me to last night, which was a nice opening day experience if also not extremely out of the ordinary. About two seconds after one of my bullpen mates finished saying that it was going to be hard for Carlos Santana to live up to all the hype he has received early on this year, Carlos launched one off the batter’s eye in centerfield. That about does it for this installment, but check back soon for more.