Bill Murray was standing outside the Charleston RiverDogs’ dugout Thursday night, sporting a backward catcher’s hat, shades and a coat and tie when he took a quick survey of the crowd at Riley Park.
Three flags whipped behind him, all perfectly in sync — the American flag, South Carolina state flag and City of Charleston flag — as the sun set over The Joe in the outfield for the RiverDogs’ opening day.
It’s one of the best times of the year in the actor’s opinion — “baseball season is starting again” — and Murray certainly kicked off the RiverDogs’ opener against the Columbia Fireflies in style.
After Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and the RiverDogs’ team sang the national anthem together with Tecklenburg playing the piano, Murray jogged to home plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch. The crowd roared, then the team’s part owner snagged the ball in his glove and ran to the pitcher’s mound to jokingly try to pick up the mayor.
Then it was time for the official first pitch of the RiverDogs’ season, which right-hander Domingo Acevedo pounded in for a strike at 7:36 p.m.
“I believe you forget your troubles at the ballpark,” Murray said before the game began. “All these people here — they’re in a grace. They’re in a state of grace right here coming to the ballpark.”