Monday, April 7, 2009
Nothing quite like a dramatic Opening Day victory, except maybe a late October victory (I heard that somewhere).
Two moments stuck with me from today’s game.
Obviously, the second was Jim Thome’s three-run, game-winning blast.
I saw Jim in the clubhouse long after the game had ended.
“That had to feel good,” I offered.
“Yeeaahh,” he said with a big grin.
Remember how much Jim said he liked to play baseball.
The second came earlier in the afternoon.
82-year-old Billy Pierce was introduced to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He stopped short of the mound. Wearing his 1959 No. 19 uniform, he dipped down to touch his fingers to the ground and then rubbed up the baseball.
He fired the pitch to open the 2009 season.
But that wasn’t the moment.
The moment came next.
As Pierce walked off the mound to cheers, manager Ozzie Guillen stopped him.
“Stand here,” Ozzie said, indicating he wanted Billy to stand at home plate for the National Anthem.
“He didn’t want to stay,” Guillen said later. “But I told him he had to. He deserved it.”
So as the scoreboard ran a tribute to former Sox players/executives and media who passed away over the last year and as the National Anthem played for the very first time this summer, Billy Pierce stood in a spot he earned and deserved.
At home plate at Sox Park.
For a minute he was 25 years old and it was 1952.
That was the first moment I’ll remember from 2009.