NEW YORK -- Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar knows how to get things started. In April 1988, facing Nolan Ryan in the first inning as a mustachioed 20-year-old second baseman, he singled in his first Major League at-bat for San Diego.Nearly three decades later, the 12-time All-Star can still start
NEW YORK -- Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar knows how to get things started. In April 1988, facing Nolan Ryan in the first inning as a mustachioed 20-year-old second baseman, he singled in his first Major League at-bat for San Diego.
Nearly three decades later, the 12-time All-Star can still start things off with style. Alomar was in New York on Friday morning as part of Major League Baseball's now-annual #CapsOn tradition to celebrate Opening Day, first by ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange and then heading uptown to the Empire State Building to participate in that landmark's lighting ceremony.
Alomar led a contingent of MLB and New Era personnel that handed out team caps, including 500 to traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, before the bell-ringing. MLB is encouraging all fans to support their favorite team and celebrate the unofficial holiday that is Opening Day by wearing a cap at school, at work or wherever they'll be.
"It's another year of playing baseball, another year of greatness," said Alomar, who was just recently named special advisor to the Commissioner for youth baseball development in Puerto Rico. "It's another year of being faithful … for us and the fans."
At the Empire State Building, Alomar participated in the lighting ceremony along with Jean-Yves Ghazi, senior vice president of the Empire State Building observatory. The landmark will be lit in club colors throughout Friday night, in celebration of all Opening Day games to come.
Although there was zero visibility on this day of rain in the Big Apple, Alomar went up to the observatory and while there he happened upon a group of several women who were in town to prepare for a wedding. They were Indians fans who used to cheer for him in Cleveland, and he was happy to pass out Indians caps to them and pose for a group photo as he wore his Toronto cap.
"Major League Baseball is the most iconic sports league in the United States," Ghazi said. "On April 3, baseball lovers across the country will once again get to root for their own team on Opening Day, and through their #CapsOn campaign, Major League Baseball encourages all fans to sport their favorite cap to show pride for their favorite teams and signal the beginning of a new season. The Empire State Building will showcase the magnificent tower light show that will feature the team colors of all 30 Major League Baseball clubs."
"I want to say thank you to MLB and New Era for this opportunity, and making sure that everyone celebrates Opening Day with a cap of your team choice," Alomar said at the Empire State Building. "I've already got mine, because I'm a Blue Jay inductee into the Hall of Fame with this hat, so this is my favorite team."
The regular-season schedule begins with three Opening Day games on Sunday, with Chris Archer throwing the official first regular-season pitch of 2017. That slate begins with Yankees at Rays at 1:10 p.m. ET, followed by Giants at D-backs at 4:10 p.m. and then the defending World Series champion Cubs at the division-rival Cardinals at 8:35 p.m. in the annual ESPN Sunday Night Baseball opener.
Monday's lineup will feature a dozen more Opening Day games, including the traditional opener in Cincinnati, where the Findlay Market Parade will be followed by Phillies at Reds at 4:10 p.m. ET.
All of the familiar Opening Day traditions across baseball come roaring back starting Sunday, and that includes #CapsOn, which debuted last year to widespread popularity, dominating Trending Topics on Twitter. Everyone loves baseball caps.
Naturally, Alomar wore the Blue Jays cap that graces his plaque in Cooperstown -- a contrast in the sea of Yankees and Mets lids on the heads of traders.
"It's a special day," Alomar said. "Hopefully on Opening Day, we'll see everyone wearing a cap."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.comand a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.