Although baseball season is long, it always seems like the offseason is even longer. The late baseball great Rogers Hornsby once said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
That’s why there’s something magical about opening day, which is today for Rangers fans. When fans see the field for the first time after a long offseason of waiting and nothing but trades and free agent signings to keep them entertained, it seems greener than they remembered.
Hot dogs and Miller Lite just taste better with Chuck Morgan reminding everyone that it's "baseball time in Arlington!" over the PA. Then you watch the massive American flag spread out across the outfield during the national anthem, and as the jets complete their flyover, you wave your hat, full of hope that maybe this is your team's year.
As the Rangers prepare for the first of 162 games (we’re hoping for more), we asked Rangers fans: What’s your favorite opening day memory? Here’s what they said.
1978 vs. New York Yankees
Lynn Waller says he and his wife celebrated their first wedding anniversary at opening day in 1978. The couple enjoyed a walk-off home run by Richie Zisk to beat the Yankees 2-1.
1994 vs. Milwaukee Brewers
“That opening day pitch by President Bush [the] elder that helped legitimize our Rangers and the shiny new ballpark we were proud of,” Gary Carter says. The Rangers lost 4-3 to the Brewers in their first official game at the Ballpark in Arlington.
1996 vs. Boston Red Sox
“Opening day is like when your best friend that moved out of town moves back home,” Darrell W. Cook says. “Suddenly, you pick up right where you left off, best friends again and excitement about the new things you're going to get to do together.” The Rangers defeated the Red Sox 5-3 in 1996, and Ken Hill was one out away from pitching a complete game.
2006 vs. Boston Red Sox
“[Opening day is] the smell of fresh cut grass, the crack of the bat and hope eternal,” says Austin Hall, whose favorite memory was seeing Ian Kinsler get his first hit against the Red Sox, and the Rangers go on to win 10-4.
2007 vs. Boston Red Sox
Although the Rangers had already opened their season on the road in 2007, Hayden Smith remembers being there for the home opener in Arlington. He sat in the home-run porch in 40-degree weather watching Robinson Tejeda toss seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox. The Rangers won 2-0.
2009 vs. Cleveland Indians
“My first opening day was 2009,” says Chase (@bcbott67 on Twitter). “For some reason Elvis [Andrus] getting his first career hit off Cliff Lee stands out.” The hit was a double down the right field line, and the Rangers beat the Indians 9-1.
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2010 vs. Toronto Blue Jays
“Opening day is hope. Every team walks into their clubhouses with the same record as the team across the diamond from them," Chris McEnaney says. He skipped school during his senior year for his first opening day and saw the Rangers defeat the Blue Jays 5-4 on a bases-loaded walk-off single from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “No one cares about what happened last year or what will happen the year after. All that matters is that you are there with 49,114 of your closest friends, wearing your lucky hat, cheering on your favorite team.”
“It means months of enjoyment and a constantly angry fiancée cause I won't miss a game,” Nick McDougal says. He was also there to witness Salty’s walk-off.
2016 vs. Seattle Mariners
“My wife was admitted to the hospital last year, and the doctors found a mass on her ovary that was about the size of a football,” Kinsley Jayne says. “They told us it might be cancer and would need to remove it and her ovaries. Surgery was scheduled for the morning of opening day 2016. The surgeon came to the waiting room after about two hours and told me that not only was it not cancer, [but] my wife got to keep all her body parts. We watched the Rangers in her hospital room while she woke up and recovered.” The Rangers won 3-2.
What’s your favorite opening day memory? Let us know in the comments.