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.

6 Responses

  1. Jeff Reed

    1954 when a few buddies and I from the Middletown H.S. baseball team went to Crosley Field for opening day with the Reds and Milwaukee Braves when Hank Aaron played his first ML game. We had standing room tickets.

  2. cfd3000

    2003. The only Opening Day game I’ve ever attended in person, but how often does your favorite team open a shiny new stadium? Cold, and a loss, but an exciting and gratifying trip from start to finish. But even though I’m in Atlanta every year, Opening Day is still a holiday at my house. Reds gear on, game on, and the excitement of all things possible. And they are – remember 1990? I can’t wait.

  3. Scott Carter

    The best part of Opening Day, any Opening Day is the anticipation. I have never had the privilege of attending Opening Day in person. But I remember when I was a young boy, Mom would let me skip school so I could stay home and watch it on TV. I feigned being sick but she knew and let me get away with it. Other than that I do remember the Randa home run, Chad, that was exciting.

  4. Nate

    2011: Ramon Hernandez hit the game winning home-run going opposite field into the Brewers bullpen. 9th inning, two outs, 2 on and down 6-4; everyone was pretty much deflated when he came to the plate after the heart of the order couldn’t get the job done. Dead quiet. The crack of the bat sent the stadium into one of the loudest eruptions I’ve ever heard and got to be apart of. It was the first opening day win for the Reds I attended also. The Brewers fans in are section that were talking trash all game sprinted out of the stadium. 🙂 Great memories

  5. Matt Esberger

    1980 Frank Pastore throwing a shutout against the Braves. Yes The Frank Pastore was the opening day pitcher but I believe it was due to Tom Seaver being scratched right before the game. One thing I remember was a Bob Horner throwing error where he threw the ball that hit the green seat façade behind 1st base. Ralph Sampson standing on Shaq’s shoulders wouldn’t have caught that ball. Least favorite was 1996 for obvious reasons. My brother always believed John McSherry’s death and Marge’s reaction was the turning point in not just the Reds but Cincinnati sports in general.

  6. Jim Walker

    My most memorable Reds opening day is 1971, the first opener at Riverfront Stadium; and, only time I have been there in person.

    On the morning of opening day, we awoke to several inches of fresh snow on the ground at home west of Dayton near the Ohio/ Indiana state line. WLW radio confirmed there was a similar amount of snow on the ground in Cincinnati but implored everyone to come on down anyway because the game was scheduled to go on. Lest our tickets go to waste, my brother (who was skipping school) and I got dressed and headed for Cincy in short order concerned that road conditions would add hours to the drive..

    The roads along the way it turned out were not too bad; or, perhaps as a 21 year old, I was less aware of such potential dangers. Regardless, we arrived and got parked well ahead of the gates opening. Being bumpkins of the first order, we didn’t know where any of the other activities were located. However, since the Reds offices had not yet relocated from their long time home at 307 Vine street, on a whim we decided to walk by there. As if on cue, none other than Bob Howsam and Dick Wagner happened to step out the door right in front of us as we approached 307 Vine. Back in those times, respectable country boys didn’t hail celebrities or “important people” on the streets. Instead, we loosely followed them down to the stadium area where they eventually merged into the gathering crowd.

    We found our way inside to our seats in the centerfield red level and watched amazed as the Zamboni machines finished clearing the snow off the field. Finally, warmups completed, pregame ceremonies commenced at home plate. Bob Howsam was introduced to speak; and, my brother whispered to me “(explicative deleted) that really was him we were following down the street”.

    And other than being very cold and going out hot chocolate several times during the game that’s about all I remember of my first and only live opening day.