The team donated 1,000 opening day tickets to storm responders and those affected by the destruction.
First responders from several organizations, including the NYPD and FDNY, lined up in uniform behind the infield dirt, facing the stands. They remained there as players from the Mets and San Diego Padres lined up along the baselines for pregame introductions
Singer and actress Emmy Rossum sang the national anthem backed by 50 choir members from the Scholars’ Academy School Chorus from the Rockaways, an area hit hard by Sandy.
Opening day prompted Hamilton to recall his first game in the majors, in Cincinnati in 2007 after he overcame years of drug abuse. The All-Star outfielder who joined the Angels in the offseason returned to Cincinnati for an unusual interleague opener.
“I enjoyed my year here,” he said. “It was the beginning of everything that’s happened so far in my career, so it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart. It’s always fun to come back to the places where you began.”
In Washington, there is an abundance of optimism. Good reason for it, as the Nationals come off a season in which they led the majors with 98 wins.
Stephen Strasburg threw the first pitch against the Marlins at 1:09 p.m. That was 4 minutes later than scheduled, because all the pregame festivities, which included unveiling a red, white and blue sign atop the outfield scoreboard that read “NL East Division Champions” in all caps.
The Nationals also gave out all manner of individual awards from 2012: a Gold Glove for first baseman Adam LaRoche; Silver Sluggers for LaRoche, shortstop Ian Desmond and Strasburg; NL Manager of the Year for Davey Johnson; and an executive of the year plaque for Rizzo.
“Too much ceremony,” the 70-year-old Johnson observed, “but other than that, it’s a fun day.”