The pregame festivities began with a touching video tribute to longtime umpires attendant Ernie Tyler, who passed away Feb. 10.
A plaque now hangs outside the Ernie Tyler Umpires’ Room. The umpires will wear wrist bands with Tyler’s initials. Nice touch.
Manager Buck Showalter received a prolonged ovation, which he acknowledged with a tip of his cap. You knew it was coming, and it didn’t disappoint.
Showalter stood with his arms folded while a highlight video played on the big screen, followed by the player introductions.
Brian Matusz is on the disabled list, but he got to run down the orange carpet. That should ease the disappointment at least a little.
The decibel level jumped when MASN’s Jim Hunter called out Zach Britton’s name.
Each starter was greeted with a loud ovation, especially Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Vladimir Guerrero.
The flyover is always such a rush.
Showalter caught the ceremonial first pitch from Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, an honor he talked about before the game.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Showalter said, “I’m hoping to have a little advanced scouting. But it’s a honor. Let’s see if I don’t mess it up.
“I was thinking about wearing a mask. I do have a cup on.”
Me too, and I’m not sure why.
Showalter ran to home plate as Weaver was being introduced. The pitch bounced outside, and nobody cared.
The board listed the years that Weaver served as Orioles “general manager.” Oops.
One final note: Mitch Atkins is scheduled to pitch in an extended spring training game May 1. He never got on the mound because of an oblique injury.