Opening Day at Yankee Stadium
March 31, 2011 – Former New York Giants GM Ernie Accorsi, who is a tremendous baseball fan and a passionate Yankees fan, has commonly said, “Other than Christmas, Opening Day is the best day of the year.”
Well, after a cold winter in the Northeast, Opening Day is here. And whether you are at Yankee Stadium or watching the game from the comfort (and warmth) of your own home, you won’t want to miss a minute of it.
There is truly something special about Opening Day throughout major league baseball. But it is difficult to compare the pageantry and tradition of Opening Day at Yankee Stadium with that of any other ballpark in North America.
From all of the great Openers at the old Yankee Stadium to the more recent ones at the modern-day Yankee Stadium, there are some similarities that have never changed.
My favorite part of Opening Day lore takes place at the start of the afternoon. For nearly as long as the Yankees have been in existence, they have chosen a person, whose legacy is important to organization and to New York City, to throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.
From national icon Yogi Berra, who opened this Yankee Stadium with a ceremonial toss in 2009, to Mel Stottlmyre, who took the mound in 2001 after a long absence from the team due to a life-threatening illness, a compelling person is always on the hill to usher in the new season.
Other notable “pitchers” in the last few decades have included Joe DiMaggio, Rudy Giuliani, Reggie Jackson and Bernie Williams.
Mike Mussina, who retired from the Yankees after winning 20 games in 2008, threw this year’s first pitch.
Moose, who was recognized at the Yankees Welcome Home Dinner last night in Manhattan, spent eight years in the Bronx. While the relatively unassuming Mussina was overshadowed at times by the likes of Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, David Wells and David Cone, he gave the Yankees a most consistent run, winning 15 or games in five of those eight seasons.
It’s only appropriate that Mussina was given the ball today, because for the better part of a decade, he gave the Yankees everything he had.
Yankees Magazine captured some exclusive images of Mussina in a private photo shoot at last night’s dinner. Those photos, along with some feedback from Mussina on his ceremonial toss, will be published in the May issue.
–Alfred Santasiere III