By Lauren Winfrey
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -
|Re-Opening Day for the Syracuse Chiefs at NBT Bank Stadium|
Saturday marked the official Re-Opening day for the Chiefs, and although there was a bit of rain and the final score didn’t favor the boys in white this time around, more than 4,700 fans came out on the warm and muggy last official day of spring. Temperatures dropped gradually throughout the evening making for an overall comfortably cool night.
On the field the Chiefs were clipped by the Buffalo Bisons, 5-3, in the 11th inning, but on the concourse, fans stood in line for the autographs of former MLB All-Stars Lenny Dykstra and Dwight “Doc” Gooden, who were teammates on the 1986 New York Mets World Series champions.
“I think anytime I come to New York… it’s a special thing,” said Dykstra, whose son Cutter was with the Chiefs until last week when he was sent to Double-A Harrisburg. “I was lucky to play in New York and win a World Series. When the fans come, they really truly sincerely want the autograph. I like to look them in the eyes and tell them how much I really appreciate them showing up. I actually enjoy it. It’s good to be with people that sincerely want the autograph.”
Now in its second year, Re-opening Day is meant to emulate the momentum of opening day. The Chiefs' manager of community relations and social media Jeffery Irizarry credits General Manager Jason Smorol with the idea.
“[Smorol] realized Opening Day is fantastic… but why not do it again [and] relive the moment,” Irizarry said. “Not everyone can get out on a Thursday two o’clock game, so why not have [re-opening day] on a Saturday when the kids just got out of school so everybody can attend and enjoy the experience of opening day?”
The smiles and handshakes exchanged between the fans and the former baseball stars served as the highlight of the night. Moments of nostalgia surfaced as New York baseball aficionados stood in line with varied Mets memorabilia eager to meet the men who helped create sports history.
The Chiefs and the Bisons meet again Sunday at NBT Bank Stadium to play the final game of a three-game series. The first pitch is slated for 1:05pm.