03/31/08 7:45 PM ET
Orioles ignore clouds, celebrate
Festivities kick off Opening Day as Baltimore welcomes fans
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The proceedings began with a brief message from MASN studio host Jim Hunter, who emceed the Opening Day festivities from the grass in front of the pitcher's mound. Hunter, who wore a tuxedo with a bright orange bowtie, narrated the early action and later introduced the entire cast of characters from Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
"It was better than what I expected," said manager Dave Trembley, who was presiding over his first season opener. "It was Opening Day. It doesn't get much better than that.
The day began with a video tribute, setting the tone for the afternoon and for the season. After that was done, Hunter introduced the players and coaches from Tampa Bay, who lined up on the infield between second and third base. The Orioles unleashed a brief burst of fireworks, and then Hunter prepared to announce the home team's particulars.
First came the support staff, who ran out of the dugout and lined up between first and second base. Then came the bench players, who ran in from center field over an orange carpet.
Finally, Hunter announced Baltimore's starting lineup, and the largest ovations were reserved for leadoff man Brian Roberts -- who spent his offseason dealing with trade rumors -- and center fielder Adam Jones.
"I wasn't as nervous as I thought I was going to be," said Jones. "Once my name was called and I ran down the carpet, it was total relaxation for me."
Once all the introductions were over, the Orioles brought out some special guests. Hank Peters, the general manager of Baltimore's last World Series team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. And Rick Dempsey, former Baltimore catcher and the Most Valuable Player of the 1983 World Series, caught the ball a few feet in front of home plate.
The Orioles also brought out an honor guard from all five branches of the military and draped a huge American flag over the batter's eye in center field. Baltimore officials asked for a moment of silence right before the national anthem, and American tenor Richard Troxell delivered his version of the Star Spangled Banner for the sixth straight season.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.