||Bulls Opening Day Featured In N&O
The Durham Bulls took to the field on Wednesday night to a sell out crowd and presented them with a victory on this, the first home game of the season. Bill Woodward, a staff writer for the News and Observer, filed this story.
Story from the News and Observer Web Site: April 13, 2000
Bulls get warm welcome
Staff Photo By Christobal Perez
Wool E. Bull is back in action, shaking hands with Andrew Harvey as Nathan Bridges, in stripes, and Luke Harvey await their turns.
DURHAM — After having a game snowed out in Toledo and playing in frigid temperatures on a season-opening road trip, the Durham Bulls basked in the warmth of opening day at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Wednesday. Literally.
The Bulls were greeted with sunshine and 70s, a pregame ceremony with the Golden Knights parachute team, a first pitch by future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs and a nearly packed house of 9,265.
At the end of a 5-1 victory over the Columbus Clippers, the Bulls’ fourth consecutive win, the two players who had the biggest smiles on their faces were first baseman Ryan Jackson and starting pitcher Mickey Callaway — both of whom had struggled on the road as the Bulls won three of four games. Callaway pitched five shutout innings, giving up just two hits. Jackson, a former Duke All-America who was national player of the year in 1994, had a homer and drove in two runs — after going 1-for-12 on the road trip. “He’s back in Duke country,” Bulls manager Bill Evers said. “That is just what the doctor ordered. He feels comfortable here in Durham, and it was good to see him come alive. He’s been pressing on the road. I told him to just go out and relax and do what you are capable of doing, and he swung the bat well.”
Jackson, who drove in the Bulls’ second run with a fourth-inning single and blasted a solo homer to right in the sixth that made it 4-0, was one of four Bulls with two hits apiece. Bobby Smith had a pair of doubles and an RBI; Randy Winn had a double and a single; and Pat Borders had a pair of singles. “The weather helps out a lot,” Jackson said. “It was good to see 70-degree temperatures when we got back. Nobody really enjoys playing in 20- and 30-degree weather. That is what we were facing.”
Jackson, who was signed by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in January as a free agent, said he had been trying too hard to impress his new boss. “I had been jumpy at the plate,” he said. “That comes with trying to impress your new manager. You want to do that right out of the gate. With me, it didn’t happen. With each at-bat, it starts mounting on you. Tonight, I saw the ball and got a couple of fastballs in that I was able to hit.”
Callaway (1-0) was facing the Clippers for the second time in as many starts this season. On Friday, he gave up four runs in three innings as the Bulls fell behind 6-1 at Columbus. Durham eventually tied the score 6-6 before the game was suspended in the ninth inning. “You come back after the cold weather and your body feels loose, you’re in the heat,” Callaway said. “You just feel like you can go out there and be aggressive. Everything felt great tonight.”
But it was more than warmth and a packed house for Callaway. He also paid more attention to his catcher, Borders, who was the MVP of the 1992 World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays. “I shook off Pat Borders a lot the first game,” he said. “You know, I’m shaking off a World Series MVP there, and I kind of realized that. Today, I just went out there and threw what he called and stayed more aggressive.” And the end result was a victory for Jackson, Callaway and the rest of the Durham Bulls, who basked in the warmth of opening day.
News and Observer staff writer Bill Woodward
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