Dodger Stadium opening day memories
I’ve been to many opening days but four really stick out in my memory.
April 7th, 1977 – Don Sutton gave up a leadoff home run to Gary Thomansson and deflated many of the 51, 000 fans in attendance. Not to fear the HOF didn’t give up a run the rest of the game, only three other hits, and cruised to a 4 – 1 victory. It would be the first of many victories for the 1977 team as they went on to win 98 games and were as good a team as any LAD in history. They didn’t win a World Championship but they could have if not for Craig Nettles and his magic glove.
April 1st 2013 – Clayton Kershaw gave one of the great opening day performances in LAD history. Matching up against Matt Cain both pitchers threw zeros for six innings. Clayton shut out the Giants in the 7th, and Cain was replaced by George Kontos to start the 7th. Cain had struck out the last two Dodgers on 3rd call strikes but all that got him was a seat in the dugout. With the score 0 – 0 in the bottom of the 7th the Dodgers let Kershaw hit, and he crushed a home run to center field to give the Dodgers a 1 – 0 lead. For me the Dodgers won that game 1 – 0 but history shows they scored three more times and won 4 – 0. Fuck history, I like my memory better.
April 12th 2005 – The Dodgers opened on the road for six games so they didn’t have their home opener until the 7th game on April 12. The Giants scored five runs in the 1st inning as Jeff Weaver was knocked around. It was a strange first inning as the Giants scored those five runs without the benefit of an extra-base hit. They collected six singles, five in a row at one point. Imagine going through all the trouble to get to opening day only to be down 5 – 0 in the first inning. Not to fear, the powerful Jason Repko blasted a two-run home run off of Kirk Rueter and the Dodgers were back in the game. In the second the googled Jason Philips drove in Norihiro Nakamura (I bet you forgot those names) to cut the lead to 5 – 3. Jeff Weaver decided the game was too close and gave up three more runs in the 4th putting the Dodgers in an 8 – 3 hole in only the 4th inning. The Dodgers scored two more runs in the sixth when Tomato Olmedo Saenz hit a double to RF putting runners on 2nd / 3rd. The aforementioned Nakamura and Philips stranded both runners so the score now stood at 8 – 5. The Dodger bullpen was excellent on this day, not giving the Giants another run after relieving Weaver in the 4th. The Giants big time closer Armando Benitez was brought in to close the door in the 9th but things got crazy. Jason Ellison was brought in to play LF for defensive purposes. Philips grounds out. Rickey Ledee pinch hit a double and Izzy followed that with a single putting runners at 2nd / 3rd. Jose Valentin pinch hits, and pops up. Two outs, two on, down three runs. JD Drew drew a walk bringing up Jeff Kent as the go ahead run. Kent walks, and the score is now 8 -6 with the bases still loaded and Milton Bradley up. Milton hit a single to LF and Ellison in a hurry to pick up the ball and try to make a play at home on the tying run let the ball go right through his legs and everyone scampered home and the Dodgers won 9 – 8. All this happened right in front of me because my seats were in Loge next to Dodger bullpen in LF. The crowd went crazy.
April 5th, 2004 – The game itself was no big deal but this was a big day for me as a Dodger fan. As a fan I’d never been in the position to have season tickets but when Frank McCourt bought the team in 2004 and brought in Paul DePodesta to be the GM I wanted to be a part of the experience. I talked to my brothers and we decided to take advantage of the new buy two get two free Loge seats. When I arrived for the game we got their extra early and as I walked around the stadium with her hand in my hand, I was just beaming at the idea that I was now a season ticket holder in the greatest baseball stadium in baseball. I can’t describe the feeling but the smile it put on my face couldn’t be erased by a mere loss on opening day.
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If you blinked you missed Nakamura, never did translate his Japanese power to MLB.
Phillips I remember well, he was Tortuga speed before Adrian
Opening Days at Dodger Stadium have brought me to tears these last several years.
Appreciating what has been witnessed before at the Stadium on the field of play intermingled, intertwined with so many other memories that surrounded the events of the days gone by, the nostalgia is very, very strong.
One particularly fun time enjoyed on Opening Day at the Stadium happened when the boys were in High School. Their coach decided to take the team to Opening Day.
This was around 2000-2001. I volunteered to help transport and went to the game too.
Our seats were on the Field Level on the first base side … the last row against the wall next to the bullpen. We had the entire row, maybe ten seats or so. The team had another group of seats in another area too. Some of the boys had figured out a way to improve their seating near the other group of seats and they took off. Then the coach left to also join the others.
So, for most of the game it was Big Pete, my two sons and me sitting with our backs against the wall. We had as much fun watching all the people as we did the game. The boys offered some tips to the visitors in the bull pen and the Right Fielders too.
I remember the warm rays of the late afternoon sun splashing us in the last innings of the game and the glorious hue the light cast on us all.
What a great day it was!
We had a lot of fun.