SAN DIEGO -- Four F-35 jets flew over Petco Park following a rousing rendition of the National Anthem by Stephany Negrete. A packed house lauded the Padres, amid fireworks and a massive American flag unfurled in the outfield.But -- as he did during his nine seasons in San Diego --
SAN DIEGO -- Four F-35 jets flew over Petco Park following a rousing rendition of the National Anthem by Stephany Negrete. A packed house lauded the Padres, amid fireworks and a massive American flag unfurled in the outfield.
But -- as he did during his nine seasons in San Diego -- Randy Jones stole the show during the Padres' Opening Day pregame festivities.
The legendary left-hander -- who is battling throat cancer -- threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's home opener. He received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd, and, naturally, delivered a strike to Padres reliever Brandon Maurer.
Jones, who won the 1975 ERA title and '76 National League Cy Young Award, received his cancer diagnosis during the offseason and completed 38 days of radiation treatment on Feb. 1. He will undergo another test in May to determine if he is cancer free.
"It's so special," Jones said last month of the support from Padres fans. "Everything and all the responses I got and still get -- they've been appreciated, kind of overwhelming. ... I love our fans and the people. And to get the response I got, it was really special."
Maurer was quick to note how much Jones still means to the organization -- specifically the current players.
"He's always here, and he's one of the Padres greats," said Maurer, after turning in a dominant performance for his first save of the season. "We get to sit here and pick his brain. It's something special."
Friday's home opener marked the 14th at Petco Park since it opened in 2004. Gates opened early and the park was full well before first pitch as fans enjoyed a "Party in the Park" beyond the outfield.
"I'm very excited about it," said Padres All-Star first baseman William Myers. "This is my favorite place to play. I enjoy hitting here, I enjoy this ballpark, I enjoy the fans, I enjoy the weather. Everything about being home, playing at home is a lot of fun for me. And to open up here in front of the home crowd is exciting."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.