Joey Rickard starred in Legends of the Spring. That star turn carried over on Opening Day as he went 2-for-4 with a single and a double.
Rickard’s debut left his alma mater claiming him by Tweeting old photos of him getting goosed by a female fan at the College World Series.
In Baltimore, Rickard had fans standing and chanting his name by his third at-bat after recording hits in his first two plate appearances. Rickard is on his way to becoming a Rule 5 folk hero in Baltimore.
Said Buck Showalter: “They’re all waiting to embrace you. You’ve just got to give them something to embrace you about. It’s your responsibility, not theirs about what comes first.”
Here’s some of what’s being said about folk-hero-in-the-making Joey Rickard:
Orioles rookie Joey Rickard’s MLB debut embodies the spirit of Opening Day (Barry Sviuga, Washington Post)
This? Rickard began last year with Montgomery of the Class AA Southern League. “What are they?” his manager, Buck Showalter, wondered. “The Biscuits?” Indeed, and when the logo on your cap includes a pad of melting butter, there’s no mistaking: You’re not in the majors. Even at 24, playing with prospects, considering yourself one, the majors — and a day like Monday — can seem a long way off.
“You always picture it, in a way,” Rickard said. “But you never really know the feelings and the emotions that come along with it. Just looking up and seeing the whole crowd and the fans and the stadium just roaring, it was definitely something special and something that I’ll never forget.”
Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard enjoys memorable major league debut (Eduardo Encina, Baltimore Sun)
Rickard was shocked at the reception.
“I’m three at-bats into the season and they’re screaming and chanting my name,” Rickard said with a smile. “That’s something special. I don’t know another city that’s like that. It’s definitely the first time it’s happened to me, but I turned around and gave them a wave. Right now they love me, so I’m I happy about it. I love them.”
This was a player who despite ascending two minor league levels last year in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system wasn’t deemed valuable enough to be placed on the organization’s 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Tampa Bay’s loss could end up being the Orioles’ gain.
Rickard rises to occasion in big debut (Paul Hagen, MLB.com)
After the game, Showalter handed Rickard the lineup card and the baseball from his first hit.
“That’s just icing on the cake for how my day’s been,” Rickard said. “It’s been special. On the outside, I might have looked calm, but on the inside, my heart was racing. But at the end of the day, it’s baseball, and these guys around me helped me out a lot.”
The only concession to his inexperience was that he batted ninth. But Showalter gave him the chance to start on Opening Day. Scratch that. This was no gimme baloney. Rickard earned it.
And then there’s this Tweet from Baseball Tonight. Have a day, Joey Rickard. Have a day.