A KC Royals Opening Day scrapbook

The most memorable Opening Days in a writer's baseball life.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
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2016: A World Series rematch

The last game on my list, the 2016 contest, also isn't from a championship season. But it's strongly connected to one and historic in its own right — pitting the Royals against the Mets, it was the majors' first Opening Day rematch of the previous season's World Series teams.

ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball featured the game. A full house at Kauffman Stadium and Royals fans watching across the country celebrated as the championship flag was raised and the Royals took the field against the Mets wearing uniforms with gold lettering and numbers.

The Royals had kept their championship core together in hopes of making another title run, but that didn't materialize — the club was in the Wild Card mix in the second halves of 2016 and 2017, but came up short. So in some ways, the 2016 opener can be viewed as the Royals' latest hurrah.

Edinson Vólquez returned to the Kauffman mound for the first time since his outstanding and memorable performance in Game 1 of the World Series. He was good, shutting the Mets out for 6.2 innings while the Royals built a 4-0 lead a run at a time.

But in the top of the eighth, KC reliever Joakim Soria gave up three runs to make it interesting. Luckily, Wade Davis was around to lock down the victory in the ninth, and the Royals put an exclamation point on their World Series victory from five months earlier with a 4-3 win.

Royals fans are more optimistic heading into 2024 than they have been in years. Only time will tell if that's warranted, but regardless of how the season turns out, Opening Day offers the opportunity to produce memories that will stand the test of time. But enough reminiscing ... It's time to play ball!

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