Special Opening Day at Yankee Stadium
April 11, 2014 – As someone who has been at every Yankees’ home opener since 1992, including the last 12 as a member of the team’s publications department, I can honestly say that certain Opening Day games stick out in my memory more than others.
The first Opening Day game I was at — a month after my 13th birthday — was unforgettable. The 1996 opener, during which a young Andy Pettitte earned a win against the Minnesota Twins in a snowstorm, was equally as memorable. The 2003 Opening Day game became an instant thriller when Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam in his debut in pinstripes. Of course, the 2009 home opener was also significant, because it was the first game at the current Yankee Stadium. In my opinion, everyone who had a seat in the ballpark that day was part of history.
This year’s home opener on April 7 was one of the most memorable of them all. As everyone on the planet knows, it was Derek Jeter’s final Opening Day, but in reality, it was more than that.
Opening Day at Yankee Stadium marked the first of many tributes to one of the greatest Yankees — and baseball players — of all time in what will be a year-long celebration. Some of those tributes will be planned, and others, like the thunderous ovation Jeter got when he was announced before the game, are not part of any script.
The Yankees made an already special day even more meaningful when they paraded Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte out to the infield for two ceremonial first pitches. Rivera tossed a pitch to Jeter, and Pettitte hit Posada’s mitt with a strike.
A few seconds after the pitches were thrown, Yankees chief photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht captured an exclusive photo of the Core Four coming off the field. The group of legends stopped on their way back to the dugout and posed for what may be the only photo that features Jeter in uniform and Rivera, Posada and Pettitte in street clothes. That image will be featured prominently in an upcoming issue of Yankees Magazine.
Speaking of Yankees publications, don’t miss your chance to grab a copy of the 2014 New York Yankees Official Opening Day Program (see cover image below). Whether you were at the game or not, you can be part of the historical day. To purchase a copy of the Opening Day Program, please call (800) GO-YANKS or log on to http://www.yankees.com/publications.
–Alfred Santasiere III