Never devoid of fanfare and nostalgia, Opening Day at Dodger Stadium is always filled with ceremonies and tributes to honor legendary Los Angeles Dodgers players and teams.
This year’s Opening Day was no different, as the Dodgers chose to honor several of their former Cy Young Award winners by having them throw the first pitch. First, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela were driven in from center field as their long list of respective accolades were read over.
Then, the song that became synonymous with Eric Gagne began blaring through the stadium speakers. ‘Game Over’ was splashed across the jumbotron and Gagne emerged from the Dodgers bullpen. He joined Newcombe and Valenzuela in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, which elicited fond memories for him, according to Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider:
I felt like I could throw 95 mph again,” said Gagne after delivering the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. “The adrenaline. My hair went straight. It’s crazy. It’s the adrenaline. My run, I remember I used to count every single step (coming in from the bullpen when I played). It felt like home. I felt like a Dodger again.”
Gagne also said he was surprised by the rousing applause he received:
I didn’t expect that,” Gagne said. “I didn’t know what to expect. It was fun. I didn’t know if the reaction was going to huge or what. You bring in Fernando. You bring in Don. It’s crazy, but it’s so cool. It gets the adrenaline pumping again. I feel at home. It’s hard to describe it. Just feels like it’s home.”
Gagne, who still holds the MLB record for most consecutive saves at 84, pitched for the Dodgers between 1999-2006. His career took a nosedive after he left the Dodgers, and in 2007, he was one of many prominent players named in the Mitchell Report.
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