You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possibly be – in baseball
and in life. – Pete Rose
After all is said and done, the first experience of a Home Opener while working for a Major League team will no doubt surpass the majority of my baseball game memories. There was so much that happened throughout the day that recalling everything would be a daunting task, making me grateful for the photo log I kept, capturing all of the best moments. Words are problematic at times; often, the more you try to convey your thoughts and reactions using an elaborate description, you fall short of doing the lone task you set out to do: allowing an audience to tap into your exact feelings and emotions by revisiting a specific moment in time. So, forgive me if it’s difficult to sum up the entirety of the day; so many words are appropriate but none provide adequate justice.
For a week prior to the Home Opener, I observed and assisted (where required) as the field was constructed, the office staff planned and organized the pre-game ceremonies, Rogers Centre was set-up and prepared for the next six months and the Toronto Blue Jays were on a five-game winning streak. The pitching mound that had been in its preliminary stages my first day on the job, had been worked on and shaped by grounds crew to meet league regulations. Olympians and Paralympians were confirmed, jerseys were ordered, media coverage highlighted Spring Training and forecasted 2010, ACE cleaned up for the beginning of another new season, JForce rehearsed and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With everything that goes into the first home game of a season, fans only witness a tiny glimpse of the preparations for a few hours during the night, but it’s everything that ensued prior to gate opening, that allows the night to go accordingly as its seen and televised nationally.
You could tell it was the Home Opener for a multitude of reasons but most noticeably because Rogers Centre was energetic from the first moments of the day. Contagious smiles, a buzz about the building and employees wishing one another a “Happy Home Opener.” I overheard a co-worker proclaiming to another in the office, “there are only three reasons why I dress up; my birthday, New Years and the Home Opener.” The suits, shined shoes and fresh haircuts exhibited that point and everyone was around the building was eager for game time. The Home Opener is an annual chance on a municipal, provincial, and national stage to showcase the franchise and their efforts to fans at the commencement of the new season. It also inadvertently acts as proof that this city – the only major league baseball city north of the US boarder – is adamant about baseball in this country.
The digital narrative I posted acts as a photographic play-by-play of the Home Opener encompassing the 48-hour span in which the day was set-up, rehearsed, and executed. The entire day is a blur but what exists in my memories a couple days after the big night, are fragments of reactions and thoughts that I endured throughout that time frame. A few moments in particular are vivid in my mind and it’s as though I can put myself back in that precise moment every time I recall that memory, reliving every step.
The minute I stepped out of the car Monday morning, I began the day with so much energy and excitement for what was approaching. That reaction to the Home Opener remained and grew throughout the day. I had the opportunity to chat with fans and members of the media as well as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, who for the most part, had never seen a game of baseball, but the best moment by far, was towards the end of the pre-game ceremonies almost immediately before the first pitch. The drum line and JForce lined centre field with the armed forces on either side holding flags representative of Canada and the US; thirteen Canadian Olympic and Paralympic medalists stood tall behind the pitching mound, wearing their medals with pride in a new place full of passion and pride and both teams, stood on the field for the national anthems after the team introductions. It was that moment, right before the field cleared for the commencement of the game, that time stood still, even if it’s only in my memories. In a split second, that moment had passed, the field had cleared and the first pitch was thrown. Needless to say, I can begin to describe it, but words don’t do it nearly enough justice.
I’m positive that all 46,321 fans in attendance would agree that if there’s anything you should experience in Toronto, it’s a Home Opener. There’s expectation and determination with the hope of success riding on this season and if the Home Opener was any indication of the support that the Jays have behind them, this team will no doubt prove what they’re capable of in the upcoming months.