The MLB season may be too long and seem to drag on forever, but whether you’re a baseball fan of any team or none at all, there’s one day that brings a unique atmosphere and excitement to cities all over the U.S.
It’s a day that portrays pride, laughs, cheers, and spontaneous smiles. It’s a day where everybody starts in first place. It’s a day to appreciate the little things that America’s largest and loudest cathedrals have to offer.
It’s Opening Day.
Opening Day is gorgeous to say the least. Clubs put together beautiful and remarkable ceremonies before their new and fresh season’s are about to begin. Huge American flags are spread out across outfields from Chicago to Los Angeles. Ball clubs’ player’s are announced to sold out venues individually as they pridefully take the field in their bright white pinned striped uniforms, or classic grey road jerseys on either the first or third baselines.
Player’s greet their teammates, some old or new, down the baseline and then tip their cap’s saluting the thousands of fans that came to see them play “America’s Game” – on Opening Day.
I recently went to my second ever Opening Day, but this one was my first in New York – at Citi Field.
Wow, talk about an experience. There is certainly “something in the air” and atmosphere when it comes to going to an Opening Day game in New York, especially at a Mets game.
No matter what day of the week it is Opening Day is…well always during the daytime. This years’ game was on a Monday at 1pm, and it luckily was played on a gorgeous spring day in “The City that never sleeps.”
The day begins with a 9:15 train up the coast into Penn Station, NY. Even 45 minutes south of the city I stepped onto the train with a crowd of people wearing their orange and blue colored clothes and Mets caps.
Speaking of sleep, I’m sure most fans who were heading up along side me couldn’t sleep the night before either. I could just tell from being on the train full of Met fans that they were in a type of “zone,” like they too were getting ready to play their first game of the season. Sure, they were definitely not as nervous as the players who were taking the field that day (I hope) but there was still a spirit of excitement – like we were all going into this together, as a team.
The train continued to get more crowded full with orange and blue involing Mets cheers and high-fives circulating up and down the train aisles like New York City cabs hustling up and down the city’s busy streets.We arrived late to Penn Station and everyone rushed off the train and onto the hot and small platform then up the narrow stair case to the concourse at Penn.
As soon as I get my ticket and even before I could turn around I hear the noise that is almost comparable to a stampede, or a scene from the movie Jingle All the Way when people rush into a toy store to get their hands a scarce Turbo Man Doll; our track number had been put up on the schedule board and we were off to the races to get on our next train.
It’s when all the Mets fans flood the board walk at Willets Point to walk over to the stadium is when you really get the adrenaline rush. Just when I thought it was crowded it’s even more mobbed now on the walk over that now includes people selling tickets, playing music, or selling cheap hats. As you enter the outside closer to the stadium there’s promotions going on and the SNY Network pregame booth is set up right there with rowdy fans cheering all bunched in together behind it.
Citi Field is different in my opinion than most New York sports venues, because it has room around the stadium to tailgate, walk around, hang out, etc. On this warm weather day people were playing music, grilling, drinking, smoking cigars, and playing games in the parking lot. I met a buddy of mine in the bus parking lot and people were all doing the same; all having fun while breathing in that new spring and fresh New York baseball air.
We entered the stadium which was a whole new world in itself. The noise echoed throughout the stadium concourse with kids running past you like it was their playground, friends meeting up toasting beers, and music playing from inside the beautiful Citi field echos as well giving you goosebumps down your spine.
As we walked around the teams were announced and introduced as they ran out onto the field. The crowd roared for the Mets from their seats and the concourse where we were still walking around. The notorious cowbell’s were ringing mutually with the, “Lets go Mets – Lets go Mets!” chants. An American flag was elegantly spread out across the outfield to start the National Anthem.
As the Anthem was being sung I heard a somehwat loud humming noise behind us – helicopters. Three helicopters timed their entry above Citi perfectly as they entered within the last seconds of the anthem. Just when I thought I had never heard Citi louder than ever before – I did right then and there.
Once we finally sat down I looked around the filled stadium, took in the scenery, and listened to the little things Opening Day in New York had to offer. Across out in right center field was the “7 Line Army” which was hundreds of passionate and loud fans all wearing orange. Seeing them at a baseball game is like a fan section at a soccer game, it’s awesome.
You have people clapping,cheering, and paying close attention to the game as you hear the catchers mit pop from Jason deGrom’s fastball – which is responded with a more uplifting clap and cheer from New York’s faithful fans. Kids were cheering all around – as they got to “play hooky on a school day” and go to the game with their dad. The smell of delicious food toured Citi and made its rounds from section to section.
Even though the fans were already loud, when New York scored its first run it was still like everyone was holding in their breath, and waiting to let it all out and cheer because the fans outdid themselves again by getting louder once more than before.
As the game went on the shadows began to sneak in as the sun began to set in New York behind Citi’s brick walls. It made the atmosphere that much cooler and unique as half the field was covered in shadows with a slight and cool breeze that crept in to keep some fans alert just in case they dozed off.
It came down to the ninth inning with the score being 2-0 in favor of the Mets as the crowd stood on their feet during the last out applauding their team who’d they’d been waiting to see for months now. I could feel the electric atmosphere again as they Mets closed it out and won the game.
Having a record setting crowd of 46,000 plus fans stand up and cheer for the Mets on Opening Day wasn’t just another game…
It was an experience.