I realize I may be preaching to the choir; if you read TCB, you probably know all about the pageantry of Opening Day. But, I would like to speak to the fans that haven't gone to an Opening Day or still on the fence about going. GO! Outside of the day your team clinches a playoff spot, there isn't a better day of baseball then Opening Day. It's a child's game at it's most formal. The entire support staff, 25-man roster, and the coaches are announced. They all line up on the chalk line. The teams were their home white and their road grays - no alternate, special edition, or throwback uniform. A giant American (and Texas flag in the Astros' case) flag are brought on the field. The national anthem is sung by local star, and there's much thought that goes into who will throw out the first pitch. It's a snapshot of Americana.
Last year, the Astros opened the 2013 season for all of baseball. Lyle Lovett sang the national anthem and JJ Watt threw out the first pitch. The Astros were on top of the baseball all be it for one day after taking game one against the Rangers. Opening Day in a nutshell, is the anticipation of another baseball exploding onto the field.
Now let's take a look what the Astros have planned for this year.
13th ANNUAL OPENING DAY STREET FESTIVAL
Before all of the action starts on the field, the Astros will kick off Opening Day festivities with the 13th Annual Opening Day Street Festival, with special thanks to Budweiser, from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Crawford Street. This year's festival once again has no admission charge and will have a fun, upbeat atmosphere that will include live music performed by the Scooter Brown Band on the Budweiser stage, an interactive vendor expo, local food trucks, drinks, prizes and activities for all ages. Fans will also be treated to a rock wall, mechanical bull riding, face painters, caricature artists, bungee runs, a dunk tank and more. Astros mascot Orbit will also be in attendance, getting fans pumped up for the 2014 season. All activities and appearances are subject to change.
OPENING DAY PREGAME FIELD CEREMONIES
The Astros Opening Day Pregame Field Ceremonies are jam-packed with guest appearances, kicking off with a special flag ceremony featuring 150 Astros Season Ticket Holders. The famed Budweiser Clydesdales will also take the field in grand fashion to deliver a ceremonial game ball to Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow, and the NiXg Skydiving and Entertainment team will also make an unconventional entrance to deliver the ceremonial first pitch ball. Country music legend Clay Walker will perform the National Anthem and return to the field for God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch.
OPENING DAY SCHEDULE - TUESDAY, APRIL 1
12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.: 13th Annual Opening Day Street Festival on Crawford Street
1:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.: Pep Rally featuring Reid Ryan, emceed by Robert Ford, on the Budweiser Stage
3:00 p.m.: Gates open to the main concourse
3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Pep Rally featuring Astros players, emceed by Steve Sparks the Budweiser Stage
4:00 p.m.: Full ballpark access to the public
5:30 p.m.: Pregame field ceremonies begin
6:10 p.m.: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Postgame: Special classic rock-themed Opening Day fireworks display, presented by Marathon Oil Corporation
The Astros have also announced who will throw out the first pitch.
Two Astros legends will assume their original playing positions for the ceremonial first pitch on April 1 during the Astros 2014 Opening Day pregame festivities. Former Astros ace and current Executive Advisor Nolan Ryan will take the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Craig Biggio, who first started in the Astros organization as a catcher, and now serves as a special assistant to the general manager. In Biggio's first year in the Majors, he caught Nolan Ryan's 100th win as an Astro while they were both on the 1988 Astros squad.
Additionally, Astros Hall of Fame radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton will address the crowd to kick off the 2014 Astros season, and Astros primary TV play-by-play announcer Bill Brown will introduce the starting lineups for both teams. On field pregame festivities will begin at approximately 5:30pm, and the 2014 Opening Day game between the Astros and New York Yankees will be broadcast on CSN Houston at 6:10pm CT. Coverage can also be found on the Astros flagship radio station, 790 KBME AM and our Spanish flagship station KLAT 1010 AM.
Again, if you haven't been to an Opening Day - go. Out of town or not, find the Opening Day near you. If you are in Houston, why not go this year to Opening Day. If you do come; say hi, TCB will be around.