ST. LOUIS -- With the arrival of the Hall of Famers and the introduction of the Cardinals' 2015 roster, St. Louis welcomed baseball back to town on Monday.
After playing five games on the road, the Cardinals opened their 81-game home slate with Adam Wainwright's first pitch to the Brewers' Carlos Gomez in front of a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium. That followed a pregame ceremony that kicked off with the Budweiser Clydesdales and lasted about 45 minutes.
"This is special," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Everybody has their own traditions for Opening Day. It just seems like it's a little bigger here, a little deeper as far as things that have been going on for a long time. … How many people get to ride around in front of 40,000 people and have them cheer? We've been booed plenty here for the past week. It's time to get home and turn that around a little bit."
Six of the Cardinals players/managers enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame entered via a convertible motorcade, with newest inductee Tony La Russa leading the way. Members of this year's team were then introduced. New outfielder Jason Heyward received some of the loudest cheers. He would later be given a standing ovation upon coming to the plate for his first at-bat.
"It seems like a lot of fun," Heyward said of his first St. Louis opener. "You see tailgating. You see people camping out. You sense tradition here."
Players from both teams lined the field as the Cardinals paused to remember outfielder Oscar Taveras with a poignant pregame video tribute. The video featured highlights and still shots of Taveras, who, along with his girlfriend, was killed in an Oct. 26 car accident. At one point during the video, Lance Lynn put his arm around teammate Carlos Martinez, who was among Taveras' closest friends. A moment of silence followed for Taveras, Edilia Arvelo and the late Bryan Burwell, a longtime sports writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals left an open seat and Opening Day credential for Burwell in the press box.
Beloved Cardinal Willie McGee delivered the ceremonial first pitch to Ozzie Smith before batterymates Wainwright and Yadier Molina took over.