There is nothing like Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. It’s like Christmas morning, with the anticipation of a brand new baseball season mirroring the excitement of finding a gift under the tree. A wrapped present represents endless possibilities, much like the start of a new baseball season offers countless outcomes that have yet to be determined.
Every fan believes that their team has what it takes to go all the way—predictions and expectations be damned. Stadiums across the country are adorned in red, white, and blue awnings to welcome sold-out crowds. There are new concessions to eat, new team apparel to buy, new in-game entertainment to enjoy, and new players to cheer on. What’s not to love?
Believe it or not, the Mets own baseball’s best Opening Day record, posting a spectacular .643 winning percentage (36-20) in their 56-year history. This stat is even more impressive since the franchise lost their first eight openers before breaking through with a win in 1970. In the Citi Field era, the Mets are 6-3, including 4-1 at Citi Field. The Mets have provided fans with some memorable Opening Day moments over the years.
April 5, 1983: Mets vs. Phillies
Tom Seaver took the Shea Stadium mound as a New York Met for the first time since being traded away on June 15, 1977 as part of “The Midnight Massacre”. The Franchise, who was starting his eleventh Opening Day for the Mets, faced off against Philadelphia Phillies ace and reigning National League Cy Young award winner Steve Carlton. The matchup lived up to the hype, as the aces traded zeros for six innings. The Mets finally broke through for two runs in the seventh to put the Phillies away 2-0.
April 9, 1985: Mets vs. Cardinals
Following the 1984 season, the Mets made a bold offseason move by acquiring star catcher Gary Carter from the Monteal Expos. Carter made his debut on the following Opening Day and won over the Flushing Faithful immediately. The Kid blasted a tenth inning walk-off home run to lead the team past the rival St. Louis Cardinals. Carter would go on to be a beloved Met over the next five years.
April 4, 1988: Mets vs. Expos
The Mets took on the Expos north of the border to ring in the 1988 campaign and came away with a 10-6 victory. The game is mostly remembered for Darryl Strawberry’s monstrous home run that struck a speaker on the roof of Olympic Stadium. Strawberry, who went 4-for-4 with two home runs in the game, would go on to tie a career high with 39 long balls in 1988 and finished second in the MVP voting.
March 31, 1998: Mets vs. Phillies
Most baseball fans may feel as if they never want Opening Day to end, but the Mets and Phillies tested that theory out during the 1998 opener, which lasted four hours and thirty five minutes. The Mets, led by Bobby J. Jones, traded zeroes with the Phillies for 13 innings. Finally, in the fourteenth inning, pinch hitter Albert Castillo (who was sporting a .192 lifetime average) put the game to bed with a game-winning single.
April 6, 2015: Mets vs. Nationals
The Mets visited our nation’s capital to start the 2015 season against the heavily favored Washington Nationals. Bartolo Colon led the charge against the defending National League East champions with six strong innings and the Mets capitalized on two Ian Desmond errors to defeat the Nationals. The win set the tone for the season and led to an unforgettable run that included a National League East division crown and a World Series appearance.
Personally, there is no place I’d rather be for Opening Day than at the ballpark. 2018 marks my twelfth consecutive home opener (fourteenth overall). My personal favorite home Opening Day was 2007 at Shea Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies. Going into the season, Phillies shortstop (and future public enemy number one) Jimmy Rollins proclaimed that the Phillies were the “team to beat” in the National League East. This comment did not go unnoticed by Mets fans, who berated Rollins from the first pitch. To make things sweeter, Rollins committed a costly error that opened the floodgates to a seven-run Mets eighth inning, resulting in a thrilling and satisfying 11-5 victory.
Whether you spend Opening Day at the ballpark or watching it on the TV, we would love to hear your favorite memory. Feel free to share your favorite Mets Opening Day moments in the comments.