And while Harper-mania continues to consume the city, for some, it’s the nostalgia of opening days past that make the start of the season special.
In honor of every baseball fan’s favorite holiday, we asked readers to share their opening-day memories, and they did not disappoint. Responses have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
I had a colleague who talked baseball with me whenever time permitted. One year he expressed interest in going to opening day and I enthusiastically agreed. He was wheelchair bound and required an equipped vehicle to travel. The plan was to meet at his home and ride together in his vehicle; get to the park early and enjoy the whole opening day experience. When I arrived, his tire was flat and his frustration was obvious. Plan A was to try and replace the tire and get to the game. Plan B was to replace the tire and watch at his home. I was able to change the tire and get to our seats with the help of the Phillies staff in time for the first pitch. The year was 2009. The game didn’t go so well; Brian McCann hit a first inning home run as we were getting comfortable; the Braves were up 4-0 after 2 innings and the Phils were only able to get a run late in the game.
I’ll never forget Tom’s joy and gratitude for being able to share that day together. He passed away in 2013. His wife gave me one of his baseball ties and I wear it to work on opening day every year. That tie gives me permission to tell this story once a year and I’m glad I get to share it in writing today. - Don Kelley, West Chester, Pa.
Will never forget 1974 opener, which set the tone for the next six seasons. Phils trailing Mets 4-3, bottom of the ninth. Mike Schmidt, who hit .198 the year before, hits two-run home run off Tug McGraw, who pitched Mets into playoffs the year before and was untouchable down the stretch after coining the “You gotta believe” slogan.
Also in that game was a streaker who ran from right field to the left field foul poles. Another guy ran out to left field to shake Greg Luzinski’s hand, then got down in a three-point stance when security came after him. He took them on a wild chase around stadium before they hauled him down. Finally, after Schmidt’s homer (preceded by Tony Taylor’s pinch single), a giant brawl broke out in the 200 level where I was sitting with my dad. It was one heck of a day! - Rich Fisher, Hamilton, NJ
I went to opening day with a then-boyfriend, but cut class and work at college. Was interviewed by Philadelphia Inquirer, was on front section of, I believe, the food section. When I returned to work the next day in the business department at college, my picture and the article was hanging up. So much for calling out of work for opening day. But ... it was funny and glad I got interviewed. I believe it was 1980! - Donna Hyde, Voorhees
My favorite [opening day] was 2001, when I brought my then-5-year-old son to his first home opener. I’ve been to every Phillies home opener since 1980, and my son has been with me at every opener since 2001. - Jeff Lyons, Cherry Hill
My only opening day that I attended for my beloved Phillies was back in the dark ages, before the Phanatic! My dad worked at Fidelity Bank and was given two tickets down behind the third base dugout. He took me over my brother, who was probably at a tennis match or tournament. It was very exciting time to be a 12-year-old living in South Jersey.
This was the start of the 1976 season with all the fanfare of the bicentennial and the All Star game coming to the Vet. Two things that are burned into my memory from that day are: Rocketman, a guy with a jet pack on his back, flew inside the Vet to delivered the first pitch, which was amazing. Then there was the brutal collision of the Pirates’ Dave Parker rounding third and knocking our catcher, Johnny Oates, out cold and breaking his collarbone. As I recall, the Phils lost that day, but the memory of my dad and I enjoying the game together — and he still remembered it until he passed in 2013 — will always be with me. Rest in peace, dad and Johnny Oates. - Holly Toth