O's opening ceremony a smooth party

O's opening ceremony a smooth party

BALTIMORE -- Dark and foreboding conditions didn't stop the Orioles from celebrating Opening Day in style. Baltimore's grounds crew had the tarp on the field early Monday, but the skies cleared enough to roll out an orange carpet from center field to second base and ring in the opener with much pomp and circumstance.

Appropriately enough, the ceremony started by introducing Baltimore's opponents for the day. The Yankees came out of the visiting dugout one by one, arranging themselves between third and second base.

Then it was the home team's turn, and Baltimore's coaches and support staff came out of the home dugout and lined up between first and second base. The Oriole Bird was the first to tread on the orange carpet, and after a brief fusillade of fireworks, Baltimore's Opening Day roster was announced one by one.

They all ran over the carpet and took their own place in line, pausing to shake the hands of their assembled teammates. Second baseman Brian Roberts and right fielder Nick Markakis -- both of whom signed long-term extensions over the winter -- were both given hearty and extended ovations on their way to the infield.

The Orioles unfurled a giant American flag over the batter's eye in center field, and a color guard representing local military institutions came out onto the field. American tenor Benjamin Brecher sang the national anthem from a raised platform beyond the outfield wall, and a military flyover punctuated his performance.

After that, it was time for the coup de grace. Vice President Joe Biden, who served as the senator from the neighboring state of Delaware for 36 seasons, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Biden, who shook hands with emcee Jim Hunter on his way to the mound, fired a high and fluttering ball to catcher Chad Moeller.

That was it for the pregame ceremony, prompting manager Dave Trembley's favorite moment. Trembley, who had been looking forward to Opening Day for quite some time, laid it all out for his players on Sunday.

"I told the guys yesterday, 'How much better could it be?'" said Trembley. "'Think back when you first started your career or when you were a little kid, if you were going to be playing the New York Yankees on Opening Day on national TV, that's pretty special. And that's pretty special for everybody.' I don't care if you've been in the game for 25 years or if this is your first year, that stuff, you can't put your finger on it. You dream about it."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.