This week’s respondents are Jason Linden, Bill Lack, Chris Garber, and Chad Dotson.
Our Weekly Reds Obsession: What is your favorite Opening Day memory?
Jason Linden: Last year was the first time I actually got to go to Opening Day and it was pretty great. The Reds lost, of course, and that was pretty predictive of the entire season, but it was excellent to be there in person with friends enjoying baseball at the earliest possible moment in the calendar.
Overall, however, I think my favorite Opening Day memory isn’t even a memory. It’s how they all blur together into this special event that reminds me every year that, no matter what else happens, at least there’s baseball. I cannot remember ever not being acutely aware of Opening Day. Sometimes that’s meant catching as much of the game as I could on the radio, sometimes it’s meant waiting for highlights on the evening news (remember when we had to do that sometimes) or just waiting for the box score in the paper the next day. Lately, it’s meant a lot of being distracted during my very last class of the day (except for the blissful times like last year when it’s fallen during spring break).
Opening Day is always the best.
Bill Lack: My most memorable Opening Day memory was 1985. It was a period of years when I attended Opening Day every season, but this year I went with a bunch of co-workers to see the Reds open the season against the Montreal Expos.
What made it memorable was the weather. You never know what you’re going to get when you go to Opening Day. I’ve been at games where it was jacket weather, shorts weather, even went one year where I was bundled up when I left the house for the parade, but by game time, I’d bought a t-shirt because it’d gotten so warm. But in 1985, it was cold. I mean COLD. From memory, I remember multiple snow delays during the course of the game. We didn’t have standing snow, like some other years, but it was cold, flurries, and just miserable weather.
But, after looking it up, the Reds did win that day, 4-1. Mario Soto threw a strong seven innings and had two hits. Pete Rose had a couple of hits and drove in three runs, Dave Parker and Cesar Cedeno chipped in two-hit days, as well. The Expos had two future Hall of Famers (Tim Raines and Andre Dawson) and former Red Dan Driessen.
Chris Garber: I really don’t have any great Opening Day memories. I’ve only been to one actual Opening Day game (2008), and it was cold, rainy, crowded, and not really all that much fun. To me, Opening Day is much better as a concept than as an actual baseball game. I don’t mean that as any sort of knock on Opening Day — it’s one of the the true highlights of the season, but that’s all about the anticipation, the pageantry, and the celebration of baseball itself. All things are possible, regardless of the weather, the roster, or if the new shortstop makes four errors. The only bad thing about Opening Day is that it’s always followed by a day with no baseball.
Chad Dotson: I guess I’ve been to eight or nine Opening Days in Cincinnati, but my favorite memory, by far, was back in 2005. My guy Adam Dunn hit a home run off Pedro Martinez, and that was cool and all, but Danny Graves pitched a perfect top half, the Reds were still losing 6-4 to the Mets as the game entered the bottom of the ninth inning.
Austin Kearns led off with a line drive single to right field. Dunn followed with a bomb off Mets closer Braden Looper to tie the game. Then newly-acquired third baseman Joe Randa hit a walk-off blast in his first game in a Reds uniform. The park went absolutely nuts; I wouldn’t witness hysteria like that again until Clinchmas in 2010.
An interesting note: 2005 was the first Opening Day in the history of Redleg Nation. About six weeks before the opener, this dumb little web site went live to the world (to very little fanfare). So, you can go back and read my thoughts — and see some pictures I snapped, very likely the first pictures ever posted at the Nation — that were written at the time. Some stuff in there that I hadn’t remembered, and I think you might find it worth a read.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.