Aramis Ramirez pulled his Milwaukee Brewers warmup over his head, three minutes before he was to take to the field for stretch and batting practice a little after 10 a.m. He took a sip from a coffee cup, moving at a veteran’s pace.
Now 35-years-old, Ramirez broke into the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a teenager 16 years ago. He made his debut in May 1998, and he was a September call-up in 1999. His first Opening Day came at the turn of the century, on April 4, 2000 against the Houston Astros.
Today marks his 15th Opening Day, but after 1,924 games and over 2,000 hits, it’s a day that never gets old.
"No – Opening Day, man," Ramirez said, "it’s a great feeling. It’s a special, special thing. I think every baseball player should be able to accomplish it. I’ve been blessed to do it for many years."
His younger teammates were already out on the field, taped, sporting their eye black, excited for a new start and everything that could happen over 162 games.
"Coming into a new season, Opening Day is always different," Manager Ron Roenicke said. "It’s exciting but there’s also a lot of anxiety there."
"We’re not sure what’s going to happen and how the season’s going to go. Some of them are wondering if I’m going to play or am I not going to play and what’s going to happen there. It’s a fresh start. We don’t control, we can’t control what happens."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.