BALTIMORE – Joey Rickard is just the second player in the last 50 years to start their career on Opening Day and reach base in 14 straight games. That’s according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
In the first inning of Thursday night’s game, Rickard singled and scored.
Rickard, whose inclusion on the Opening Day roster was no certainty when spring training began, is still getting used to the trappings of major league life.
He’s done countless interviews. In the minor leagues, no one ever wanted to interview him, and he was able to quickly leave after games.
Despite his early acclaim, Rickard has moved around Baltimore easily, only being recognized once.
“I’m still an unknown face. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, so it’s still relatively new,” Rickard said.
Everything is new.
“I wouldn’t say awed. It’s still in the back of my mind, the fact that I’m here. It’s just kind of knowing yourself and knowing the guys around you, they have your back. It’s kind of slowed the game down for me, and it’s helped me a lot up to this point,” Rickard said.
Unlike the minors, the only busses Rickard rides on are ones that take him to and from airports and from hotels to ballparks. He tries hard not to be impressed with what he’s accomplished so far.
“I go back and hang out. Maybe I call a friend and just go to bed. The chartered flights are a little more convenient and the hotel beds are a little bigger and more comfortable. It’s definitely a luxury I’m not quite used to yet, and I’m enjoying every minute of it,” Rickard said.
A year ago, he was traveling around Florida, playing for the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs. Now, he’s living on his own, and he likes that.
“No host family, no roommate, no teammate that’s sleeping on the couch,” Rickard said.
There are many things that are difficult about big league life. Those are things that are on the field.
“The hardest thing is just the everyday grind. There’s no easy way out. Every at-bat, you’re going to go out there and somebody with some really good stuff is coming at you. There’s really no break. At some point in the minors you face some fill-in; that’s where you get your hits off. Here, every at-bat is just a battle, every pitch is a battle,” Rickard said.
“If it’s not supposed to be a hit, it’s not going to be a hit. They’re going to make a play on you. That’s probably the biggest surprise. You’ve got to hit one good to get one.”
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