Baseball season is officially underway in Baltimore with Thursday marking the Orioles’ first home game of 2019. Even — maybe especially — in a season even Orioles diehards expect to end in the basement, the first home game takes on a different tenor than the other 161. We asked fans: What makes Opening Day so special?
I honestly can’t put it into words. The sounds, the smells...the atmosphere. Forget robins, warm days and groundhogs. Today is the first day of spring! — Jenn Nichole, via Facebook
Opening Day is my favorite holiday of the whole year! The town’s a buzz, the beer is cold, and the Yard is rockin’! It’s where dreams are made and opportunities are seized! The smell of Italian sausage is in the air all throughout the city it seems! The radio is always turned to 105.7 the fan, listening to the Pick to Click hoping you guessed right during the game! It’s the best time of the year! It’s almost summer! Cheers to all the Orioles faithful! — Alex Darnell, via Facebook
Last year, Clifton Brown of Glen Burnie decided he and his son Ethan would make coming to opening day a tradition. So far, it’s worked out well — Aaron Judges even threw them a ball today. Ethan will have to find a new favorite player this year, but he’s still wearing his #13 for Machado today. “No matter how the season goes, opening day is exciting. It’s warm — baseball’s back!” Clifton said. “It’s all about the kids too. Look at all the kids here.”
I went to games all the time with my grandmother who had season tix. From Memorial Stadium to now Camden Yards. The O's meant the world to her and myself. Every time I go it makes me think of her. — Joshua James, via Facebook
It means that spring has sprung and it means a fresh optimism about the Orioles. — @andrewwlepczyk, via Instagram
Solving the Old Bay Crab Shuffle 🦀🦀⚾🦀 — @riffmurphy, via Instagram
Barry and Paulette Burroughs haven’t been to an opening day before, but they’re having fun experiencing it for the first time today. Paulette just turned 50 and wanted to do something different for her bucket list. “The free tickets — that helped,” Barry added. They’re embracing all the food, games and photo opps.
The start of summer — listening to the radio broadcast with a warm breeze. — @emmafesperman, via Instagram
New Beginnings and coming into the best part of the year. @baltimore_martyland, via Instagram
Brothers Bob (left) and Ken Moody (right) from Woodbridge and Front Royal Virginia say they've been coming to every Opening Day in Baltimore since 2000. “We’re die-hard Orioles fans,” Ken said, adding that coming to Opening Day is a tradition that he and his brother cherish. “Opening Day means spring, it means a renewing.”
Opening day is a reflection on the past and hope for the future. It's a great day to be an O's and Baseball fan. No other sport has an opening day like baseball! — Gene Nixon, via Facebook
Should be a state holiday. One of my best days of the year. Baseball, family, friends and a fresh start. It’s always one giant flood of memories. — Matt Milburn, via Facebook
There aren’t too many Yankees fans here today, but retired sheriff Edward Rochford is proud to represent. The New Jersey native said he went to Florida to cheer his team on and has been following them on the road on his way back home. He doesn’t mind ending the trip in Baltimore. “What could be better than opening day at Camden Yards?” He said. “It really is a beautiful stadium and the people couldn’t be nicer.”
The most special time of the year has begun in the stadium that I was raised in. — @sdiego_20, via Instagram
Craig Willig has been a baseball fan since he was a boy. “I wouldn’t miss this,” the Fallston man said. “It’s like a holiday for me.” Willig asked his boss months ago if he could take the day off. His wife Donna isn’t as enthusiastic to be there but enjoys the atmosphere of opening day nonetheless. “It’s a beautiful ballpark,” she said.
Opening Day always brings back memories of 1992 and the O's very first game in the new ballpark. My father and I won tickets to the sold out game thru a radio call in contest. I was working downtown at the time and walked to the stadium where I met my dad. He parked at the Light Rail and spend the next 2 years fighting a parking ticket. It was a beautiful spring day and 27 years later the ballpark still stands the test of time. My parents are no longer with me but I know they are cheering on the O's in spirit. Go O's. Go Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Mom and Dad! — Larry Hankin, via Facebook
Opening Day is nothing new for Mark and Becky Herndon of Manchester, Md. The season ticket holders even went down to spring training this year to check out the new team. No favorite players yet, but “Mancini is lookin’ like a beast,” Mark said. “It’s a whole new fresh start,” Becky added.
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Manny Smith, 4, is happy to be here today with his parents Kristy and Kendrick. The threesome from Hanover, Md. hasn’t been to an opening day before, but have always talked about it. “This year, we made it happen,” Kristy said. Manny loves baseball and talks about it all the time. Today is for him.
Chloe Vice took half the day off from school to be here with her mom Danielle. The Bel Air residents are excited to see the new team, and for some funnel cake. “It’s my all-time favorite food,” Chloe said.
Beer and butts certainly have a lot to do with why Maddie Piper, left, Brooke Baughman, center, and Keely Weimer, right, decided to come out to opening day from Pennsylvania. But they’re also here for the game. “I’m a big O’s fan,” Maddie said. She took off work to be here with her friends.
Geri Elza, left, and Nancy Brown, right, know better than to miss an opening day. “We learned our lesson because of the Colts,” she said. The retired nurses-turned-truck-drivers are here because they love baseball — and all that comes with it. “I’m the other woman in Cal Ripken’s life—he just doesn’t know it yet,” Brown said.
Michele Patras has been coming to opening day for 30-some years and wouldn’t miss one for the world. She started her day at the Babe Ruth Museum, where she’s a member, and then made her way over here with her grandson, Evan Jarrard (right) and his friends Cole (center) and Brett Zenczykiewicz (left). “They’re hoping to catch a fly ball,” Patras said.
For Hampden resident Larry Wiczulis (center right), opening day means tradition. He’s been to “pretty much every one.” He comes for the baseball, but stays for “baseball people,” which he says are better than “football people.” He’s pictured with Sharon Moore of Frederick and father-and-son duo Norris and Michael Heilmann of Pigtown. This is the Heilmanns’ third opening day together.
Ike Son is here with his son Camden, named after ... well, you guessed it. It’s Camden’s first opening day, but he’s cranky and not really feeling it. “It’s going to be a long day,” Ike said. That said, he’s happy to share this moment with his kid.