The cadet glee club and color guard from the United States Military Academy at West Point unloaded a sport-utility vehicle on East 161st Street, preparing to unfurl a giant American flag across the outfield and cue up the national anthem for a flyover from two U.S. Navy F-18 Hornets.
The planes never came, but the rains did. Ongoing showers and a bleak weather forecast prompted the postponement of Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, the 84th and final season at the current facility.
The game between the Yankees and Blue Jays will be played instead on Tuesday, with a scheduled start time of 7:05 p.m. ET. The starting pitchers, Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees and Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays, are still scheduled to pitch in their respective clubs' first games of the season.
"The fans have always been great -- hopefully they'll come back tomorrow," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "Everyone gets excited, and you have butterflies and those kinds of things. You want to get the games under way, and you want to get the first one under your belt. It's disappointing, but we couldn't have played today."
Fans holding paid tickets for Monday's game may use them for Tuesday's rescheduled game or exchange them for tickets to any other game, subject to availability. Because limited tickets are available for Yankees home games during the 2008 season, fans are being highly encouraged to use their tickets on Tuesday.
Tickets can be exchanged at the Yankee Stadium Advance Ticket windows (open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until the seventh inning of any regularly scheduled home game.
A full house was expected in the Bronx for the scheduled tilt, and first pitch had been set for 1:05 p.m., but the tarpaulin never left the playing field. Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman inspected the outfield at 2 p.m., and an official decision was delivered at 2:25 p.m.
The postponement was the first of a Yankees home opener since April 7, 2003, against the Twins, a snowout. Tuesday's rescheduled game will mark the second night home opener in Yankees history; the first was a 9-2 win on April 3, 2005, against the Red Sox.
"You know that in April and May, you're going to go through some days like this," Girardi said. "You're just going to have bad weather. I'm just happy that it's not snowing."
The Yankees and Blue Jays are scheduled to play a three-game series in New York on opening week, meeting again on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. and on Thursday, also at 7:05 p.m.
The Yankees went through what would be considered a light workout on Monday, hitting in the underground cages and stretching in the clubhouse. Word filtered down at about 12:30 p.m. that the game would be delayed, and players were informed only a few minutes before an announcement was delivered to fans.
"It's April in New York, and it's very unpredictable," Alex Rodriguez said. "You always want to get the game in. The season has a lot of challenges; this is the first one."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.