Opening Day

Mitch had set his alarm for 7:30 AM but it was hardly needed. I was wide awake by 5:00 AM and sleep was the farthest thing from my mind. I had gotten up, showered and dressed waiting for the day to unfold. I went downstairs to the lobby to look around while waiting for Mitch. In the lobby I saw Conor Jackson who looked fairly involved in his mental preparation before going to the ballpark. By 10:00 AM I couldn’t stand it any more, I just had to go to the ballpark. It was Opening Day, there had to be a swarm of activity around the stadium. I was so excited for this day and this game that I thought about little else. For example, Mitch reminded me that since we left yesterday morning at 6:30 AM the only times we had eaten was when he begged me to stop. With all the adrenaline my body was producing I hadn’t stopped to eat. I assured Mitch that there would be somewhere to eat around Coors Field (I was just guessing at that since I had never been there before) and that we could eat after we get there. Besides, the gates would be opening in 2 ½ hours so we could always get something inside the stadium. Coors Field was only 6 blocks from our hotel making the walk fairly short. I hadn’t gotten directions of which direction the stadium was from our hotel and at first was concerned we would go in the opposite direction. I had nothing to fear though. Down on the street there were Rockies fans who also wanted to be at the game early and we just followed them to Blake Street. There rising about the historical buildings was Coors Field. Inside the iron gates held the dreams of thousands of baseball fans. Inside would be the first game of the 2007 season.


As we made our way to the stadium I began to notice how loyal the Colorado fans were. Everyone was decked out in their purple and black. Seeing all that purple did make me sad to think we’ll never see that sea of purple again for the home team. I wasn’t going to let that damper my spirits though. Mitch commented that we sure were not seeing much Sedona Red and I had to agree. With that much purple and black, our Sedona Red was going to stick out like a sore thumb. I didn’t care though. I was here to support the team and enjoy some baseball. It wasn’t like we were going to Shea Stadium or something. I was pretty sure we would be safe regardless of what color jersey we wore.

We got to the stadium about an hour before the gates opened. I completely forgot that there was a 1 hour time difference between Phoenix and Denver so that 1:05 PM start time was actually a 2:05 PM start. No wonder I seemed to be ahead of schedule for everything I was doing. While we waited I remembered that I promised Mitch I would find him some food. There were vendors around the gates selling water, Gatorade, energy drinks, peanuts and candy. It didn’t appear that those were menu items he was interested in. Finally I found a Hispanic lady selling burritos out of a cooler. I think burritos are one of the 5 food groups so that should count as a meal. Begrudgingly he accepted this as breakfast so we could continue our exploration of the exterior of Coors Field. From the outside it has a very old world feel to it and blends in very nicely with the surrounding area. Parking seemed to be away from the park and a short walk as there were not many lots around the stadium. That gave Coors Field a quaint feel much like Wrigley Field in Chicago. The team shop at the stadium is called the Dry Goods Store and it is open before the gates and remains open until an hour before the stadium opens. They then close the Dry Goods Store and move the shoppers/fans out. When the gates to the stadium open the Dry Goods Store reopens but the entrance from outside the stadium is locked and the entrance from the stadium concourse is open. I kind of liked that idea as it allowed me to get my Opening Day ball and pins before the game. Several fans didn’t share my positive sentiments. They wanted to shop until the gates open. They did have a point. An hour before gates opening is when a lot of fans arrive at the stadium and they are not allowed to get their Rockies paraphernalia. While we were in the Dry Goods Store we looked for Diamondbacks gear. I figured with Opening Day they would have some items from the opposing team. I was disappointed to find that the few items they did have (a team pennant, a baseball, a flag, and a pin) were all the old logo and color scheme. The only Sedona Red Diamondbacks items that could be found were on the Opening Day pennant, the Opening Day pin, and the Opening Day baseball. Each of those had a very small Sedona Red Diamondbacks logo on them surrounded by Colorado Rockies purple. We did find one store away from the stadium that was selling the wool Sedona Red hat (not the new blend hats that the teams are wearing on the field) and the Spring Training/Batting Practice hat. Mitch bought the batting practice hat just so we had a little more Sedona Red in the stands.

We went back over to the stadium and tried to figure out which gates would open when. An announcement would continuously blare from the speakers around the stadium stating only two gates would open for batting practice. The remaining gates would open a half hour later. I have to give the Diamondbacks credit, the way they handle the gate situation on game day is much easier for the fans and we are not left circling the field trying to figure out which gates are the ones we should be at. What was even more frustrating was that we later found out that all the gates would open for batting practice regardless of what the announcement said. They really need to update that announcement or not play it if it is wrong.

When the gates opened, we entered and we were given a promotional giveaway. Promotional giveaways are a part of most stadiums especially on special games such as Opening Day. In 1998 we received seat cushions, in subsequent years we had gotten hats, shirts, pins and other items. The Diamondbacks for their home opener are planning on giving out commemorative pins and Diamondbacks T-shirts. The Rockies for Opening Day gave out Cubs Foods Schedule Magnets. I have to admit it wasn’t quite the fanfare I was expecting for Opening Day. Mitch and I walked into the stadium and got our first look at the playing field. The sight lines from the concourse are much better at Coors Field than they are at Chase Field. In Chase there are lots of vendors so you feel very closed in. The Diamondbacks have attempted to rectify that by removing some of the vendors as you enter the stadium. It would be good if that trend continues. We made our way to Section 119 Row 18 Seat 9 to check it out. They were great seats just beyond First Base. The seats themselves seemed smaller than those at Chase Field and you definitely do not have as much leg room at Coors as you do at Chase. I felt crammed into my seat.

The Diamondbacks were taking batting practice and we were able to wander around and get relatively close to the field. We were allowed to go right down to the dugout and talk to the players. That is very different than Chase Field where the ushers will not let you anywhere near the dugout unless you are sitting in that section. In that regard Coors Field seemed much more fan friendly. We yelled to the players who saw we were wearing our Sedona Red gear. They all waved back and gave us a thumbs up on our apparel. We moved down from the dugout to the left field wall to say hi to some of the players shagging balls. As we were leaving I turned around only to be struck by a horrendous sight. I may as well have been face-to-face with the grim reaper himself. There directly in front of me was Rally Sally. My stomach quickly became ill and I was grateful that I had not eaten a burrito with Mitch. She reached into her bag and removed a newly created Sedona Red flag that she began to wave. It was like coming home and finding out your wife had planned a surprise party complete with a woman jumping out of a cake only to realize that the woman was Linda Blair from the Exorcist. Mitch suggested that perhaps we should go and talk to her. I looked at him as if he were from another planet. It would be like sparking up a conversation with Satan. No good can come from that. Besides I didn’t want to take a chance that God was watching. I could just see the outcome. When I die I would reach the pearly gates and ask St. Peter for entrance. He would pull out his book and recite all the great things I had done in my life then at the end would have his finger on an entry and say, “well Jeff you have definitely earned a place in Heaven and you would have had eternal life and great season tickets to heaven’s baseball team but then you talked to Satan and she waved her Sedona Red flags in your face. I’m sorry you’ll need to take the elevator down a few floors to your destination.” No, for the sake of my eternal salvation I decided it would be best to walk away from the overly hyperactive flag lady. I only prayed that she would not curse this game like she has the ones at Chase Field when I see her.

The pre-game ceremonies were awesome. The Rockies paid tribute to the armed forces and had representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines march onto the field. They also had an American flag that covered half the outfield that they waved at ground level. During the National Anthem two F-16 fighter planes flew over which brought a chill to your spine. During player introductions Mitch and I stood and cheered for the Diamondbacks players. This didn’t make us the most popular people in Section 119 but the Rockies fans appreciated our support and it was a great ice breaker for conversations. The funniest one was the two women who sat behind us and leaned forward during the second inning to ask when the Diamondbacks changed their colors. The game had been going on for nearly 45 minutes and she just realized the Diamondbacks were not wearing purple and teal.

The game itself was nerve wracking as Brandon Webb struggled and the lead changed as quickly as momentum. There were several moments during the game when the Diamondbacks would hit the ball and I would curse the humidor. A couple of scary situations occurred when Orlando Hudson twisted an ankle rounding first base and when Chris Young hit the center field wall losing his glove and the ball over the wall. In the end though things worked out and the Diamondbacks won in front of the largest crowd in Coors Field History 50,452 watched the Diamondbacks begin the Sedona Red era. It was an awesome experience and one I am glad I was here to experience.


1 Comment

  1. You were not alone!!!!! I was there sporting the red threads, too!!! You may have even been one of the six or so AZ fans that I spotted from my seat in section 332. I’m a Tucson gal who moved to Colorado a couple years ago, and since I can’t make the trek to Phoenix for games anymore, I ALWAYS trek up to Denver whenever the D’Backs are in town. I got the same question from a Rockies fan about the AZ uniform change. How funny! That was a great game. Root extra loud for me down there at the Ballpark Formerly Known As BOB!!!! 😀 (Opening Day pictures on my website — feel free to check them out!)

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