Friday night was the Aberdeen IronBirds home opener and quite honestly, it was the first opener I've been to in some years. To further that, it's the first one I've covered in many years.
When your IronBirds writer, in this case Dewey Fox, is away on vacation, then of course the game falls to me. That's not a complaint.
In fact, I enjoyed myself despite the win troubles by the hometown club.
The serious part of the night is of course the game itself, but it is just a game. There, however, are many more things that occur at every Aberdeen home game but they're a little more special on Opening Day.
Young (I won't say little) ball players from Belcamp baseball and softball paraded around the warning track from left field to right, where they lined both sides of the red carpet to welcome the 2014 IronBirds. A few lucky youngsters got to accompany the players down the red carpet and to the sideline. What a thrill.
No game can or should be played without the presentation of colors. The Jarrettsville Young Marines took care of those honors and did so with professionalism.
There was no welcome talk by any one from the Ripken family. Wasn't expecting one either.
That said, we moved right along to the first pitch. Or should I say pitches? That's correct.
Two extremely lucky little people threw out the first two pitches. Brooke Petz and Logan Curry each threw out a pitch. Not sure either throw made it even a third of its 60-foot, 6-inch destination, but they were first pitches nonetheless.
Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett also threw a first pitch and I'm pleased to report, he didn't bounce it. Long before the IronBirds were a thought, Bennett and I were on opposite benches in some Susquehanna Baptist Association church softball games.
As I tweeted, Brad Paisley wasn't around to sing the national anthem, but Erin Bourn was and she did a fine job. Bourn also came out later for a verse of "God Bless America." Very touching.
And to finish off the pre-game ceremonies, 90-year-old World War II veteran Robert Ford accompanied IronBirds Manager Matt Merullo to home plate with the lineup card. Ford, who served under General Patton, was the Hometown Hero for the game and, rightly so, drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
It was then game on.
Unfortunately, it was also game loss number seven with just one win.
The postgame was highlighted by another awesome fireworks display. My highlight was talking to a few IronBirds players and manager Merullo. All I will say is this: I believe Merullo is a good person, not just a good manager.
He and this group do not deserve this ugly start, which as of Tuesday morning was 1-10. Ugh.
It will get better. No idea when, but it will. Even if it doesn't, take in a game or two and just enjoy a night at the ballpark.