Hate to admit this, but Friday's home opener will be my 34th since getting into the baseball-writing business. The first one was in 1980 at Anaheim Stadium, but I really don't remember much about it. I was probably still stunned that anyone would pay me to cover ballgames.
My second Opening Day, which took place at
I don’t have to tell any real ball fan what happened that day. Valenzuela pitched a gem and kicked off a string of eight victories in eight starts, five of them by shutout. He even mixed in a couple of big hits and created a phenomenon known in the Los Angeles area as Fernandomania. He went on to have a very good career with the
My second-most memorable Opening Day took place on the road. The Orioles opened the 1990 season in Kansas City after the regular-season schedule had to be adjusted because of labor problems. That was my first regular-season game as an Orioles beat writer after moving to the Baltimore area from Southern California, and it was quite a night.
Big Sam Horn hit two homers and drove in six runs at
Horn, who was signed at the start of
The Bronze Medal goes to the
Presley hit a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning and then jacked a two-out walkoff grand slam in the 10th inning to carry the M's to an 8-4 victory.
When I met Presley for the first time two years ago, I mentioned that I had been at his greatest game, and he gave me a funny look. He claimed that he didn't remember the game, which was absolutely beyond belief.
Later, he admitted that he was just giving me a hard time, and I knew right then that we were going to get along just fine.
I know some Orioles fans are going to ask why I didn't chose the very first game at Oriole Park in 1992, and it's a fair question. That game was memorable because it was part of a historic grand opening and Rick Sutcliffe pitched a great game to christen the new ballpark in style, but the actual game didn't raise the hair on the back of your neck the way those other three did.