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Opening Day brings chills for Ziegler every year

Opening Day brings chills for Ziegler every year

D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler sat down recently with MLB.com to share his memories of Opening Day.

My first Opening Day in the big leagues was in 2009 when I was with Oakland. I just remember kind of having chills when my name was called out on the line.

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You get chills every year for it. You're just so amped up. You're tired of Spring Training and you're just so ready to go. It's always special. You're guaranteed to have a good crowd and they're usually into it from the start. You usually get a jet flyover, which jolts adrenaline through everybody. It's just like finally, these games count.

We get to do it four times this year -- in Australia, at home, in Denver and San Francisco -- and it will be special every single time. Even when you're on the road and the fans are booing, there are still goosebumps that come.

My favorite Opening Day was 2010 when we were in Seattle to play the Mariners. It was Ken Griffey Jr.'s last season and Seattle was his place, and he had gone back to Seattle for that year and we were their home opener.

It was incredible. There was a huge display of fireworks and they had a red carpet rolled from the outfield wall all the way to the infield, and every one of their players ran out on the red carpet and Junior was the last one.

They had Randy Johnson throw out the first pitch to Dan Wilson. Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner were also there to celebrate. It was awesome. There's not a century-long baseball history in Seattle, but what there is, they brought it all together that day and it was really neat.

I don't remember the game, whether we won or lost, but it was just cool to get to see Junior's last home Opening Day, because that was someone that I had looked up to since I was little kid and to be on the same field with him was really special.

I never went to an Opening Day before my first one with the A's. The Royals always played a day game for their opener and I was in school. I had friends that skipped school and went, but I was never a huge Royals fan to the point where I would even think about that.

I don't remember the year, but it was in the 1990's at some point and Kevin Appier had a no-hitter through seven on Opening Day. But it's Opening Day, so it's not like he can throw 130 pitches and his pitch count was around the 90's and they took him out. Whatever reliever came in lost the no-hitter. They still won the game, but I remember thinking how cool it would be if he threw a no-hitter on Opening Day.

I was listening to the game on the radio while in school that day. We had some teachers who would put the TV on with no sound while we were working on stuff. Other teachers were like, "Absolutely not, this is school." It depended on what was going on in class that day as to whether we could watch.

All the guys on the baseball team and guys who liked baseball a lot would try and find out the scores. We didn't have internet on our phones at that time. So the best way to find out the score was a lot of times the radio. Other than that, it was just kind of word of mouth. You don't have to do that anymore because you can just check them out yourself on your phone.

It's crazy. I have so many memories of watching ball when I was younger. When Johnny Damon first came up with Kansas City I was 16 maybe. I could barely drive, and me and my best friend went out to a game just to watch Johnny Damon play. We bought seats in right field. I took a camera and took a whole roll of film, just Johnny Damon -- while he was at the plate, when he was on the bases, when he was out in the outfield. We were yelling, "Hey Johnny!" He nodded his head at us and we were waving back and we were like, "Dude, that is so cool."

Then when I got to Oakland and we're playing the Yankees a couple of years later and I'm running into Damon in the weight room it's so surreal. I didn't want to tell him that story and say, "Dude you were my favorite player in high school," and make him feel old or something. But at the same time, it was really neat to be on the same field with him.

Even though it's been six or seven years now, the feeling inside of me on Opening Day never changes me. I always take a step back and take a reality check and say, "Wow, I'm in the big leagues."

Brad Ziegler is a relief pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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