When the Padres face the Dodgers on March 30 at Petco Park, it will mark the fifth Opening Day in Will Venable's career with San Diego. Venable, who will start in center field, said there's something special about Opening Day that makes it unlike any other day of the season. Here are Venable's memories of Opening Day in 2010 and his feelings on the first game of the season.
The first time I came up to the big leagues was late in 2008, and then I did so again around June 2009. But even with a year or so of service time to that point, my first Opening Day, then each one thereafter, I've still been wide-eyed and taken aback by making the Opening Day roster and being able to celebrate the day with fans and teammates.
My first Opening Day was in Arizona (April 5, 2010). I remember the national anthem, the pregame ceremony at Chase Field and feeling the magnitude of the big leagues more than I ever had before. It was a big deal to be there, and it really felt that way to me.
Of course, when you first get called up, going to the ballpark for the first time, is so cool and unique, but Opening Day, with everything that goes into the day ... the chalk lines on the field, how nice everything looks, to who they have singing the national anthem, it's such a big deal.
As for the game itself, Dan Haren was pitching for the D-backs, and I know I didn't get any hits (Venable was 0-for-3 and the Padres lost, 6-3). But what really stood out was during player introductions, when I heard my name called and I got to run out onto the field. You look across the way and there are really good players over there. I don't want to say it felt like I made it, but when your name is called, it sort of feels like you've been summoned to this great, sacred place where baseball is played. It's pretty cool.
Each year that it happens, it reminds you how special it is to be here. You can feel it in the air. Where in football, every day is a big day, you've got a whole week leading up to it. In baseball, we play so many games, there are no games more anticipated then the first one. It's coming up again. To have it at home, against the Dodgers, it will be sold out, and we'll have a lot of energy from the fans.
Will Venable is an outfielder for the Padres. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.