As you are aware, the Blue Jays begin their regular season at home this Tuesday night when the Cleveland Indians are in town. If you happen to be in the Vancouver area, the back-to-back Northwest League champion Vancouver Canadians are inviting you to watch the game as they are hosting an Opening Day Bash at Mahony & Sons at 1055 Canada Place, Unit 36, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time. You might even win a prize, such as a pair of tickets to see the Jays in Seattle this August.
Otherwise, how are you getting ready for the first game of 81 at the Thunderdome? Do you have a ticket? Will you be watching on TV? Listening on the radio? Checking your cell phone or iPod (that'll be me!)? How are you celebrating the return of the regular season?
This was the scene during last year's home opener. R.A. Dickey will begin the 2013 campaign with his first knuckleball for strike one at 7:07 p.m. Eastern Time.
As for my Opening Day memories, the first home opener I ever attended was in 1992 when the Jays hosted the Orioles. My older brother and I went as we made the trip from Guelph. My pop managed to score some tickets through work the day before but he was in Sudbury. My mom, the team player that she is, couriered the tickets to us by Greyhound and they arrived the day of the game. My brother, who was attending the University of Guelph at the time, had to drop off an assignment and took seemingly forever before we left city limits. As it turned out, we did not make it to our 500 level seats on the first base side until the fourth inning — when the good guys were trailing the Orioles 3-1.
The Jays chipped away in the eighth when Robbie Alomar walked and stole second base off Orioles sidearmer Todd Frohwirth. I remember telling my brother that Almoar was going to steal the bag before he did it because Frohwirth took forever in his windup. It looked like Alomar would be stranded when Joe Carter and Dave Winfield both struck out but Kelly Gruber smacked a two-run double to bring home Alomar. However, former Jay Mike Flanagan came out of the pen to get John Olerud for the final out of the inning. After Pat Hentgen held the O's at bay for a second straight inning in relief of Jimmy Key, who spun seven solid frames, Gregg Olson struck out Candy Maldonado to start the bottom of the ninth. As you may recall, Maldonado was pretty rusty as Derek Bell had the lion's share of the at-bats during spring training. Bell wound up suffering a wrist injury after being plunked by a pitch from Frank Tanana (who I'll always hate for breaking our hearts in '87) during the Jays opening series sweep in Detroit. I remember I was not expecting much from the Candy-Man and he did not disappoint (well actually, he did disappoint, really!). Anyways, Pat Borders (previewing his World Series heroics) belted one over the wall in left to tie the game at 3-3. The newly-minted Manuel Lee (no longer Manny and wearing No. 2 instead of No. 4) grounded out but Devon White kept the inning alive with a double. Devo would scamper home on an Alomar single for the come-from behind walk-off victory. I remember outside the stadium that a bunch of people were chanting "4-and-oh". My brother asked, "Why are they chanting Orioles?". What an idiot! ;D
Pat Borders — pictured here in his 1992 Topps card — saved the day for the Blue Jays with a game-tying home run on Opening Day that season.
I did have a nice streak of attending home openers from 2000–2007 inclusive but the 1992 game remains at the top of the list as it helped set the tone for the Jays first World Series title. I wished I could have been at the 1993 and 1994 openers to watch the presentation of the World Series rings. Sadly, Opening Nights have turned out to be a nightmare since 2005 when fans chucked schedule magnets onto the field. With all the shenanigans that have gone on, my better half and I don't feel safe in going to Home Openers and that's why we decided not to bother with them. It's too bad because I always looked forward to the opening ceremonies and cheering the introduction of the good guys. I think one way to cut down on the crap that has gone on the last few years is to schedule the home opener in the afternoon. The last time there was an afternoon home game at the Dome was in 2004 when the Tigers pounded the Jays in their brand new uniforms and graphite caps. Hopefully, everyone at the Dome Tuesday night will behave themselves and not act like asshats but I highly doubt it.
If you have any Opening Day stories, share them here!