He had never let distractions bother him before, not two years ago, when he couldn't complete a one-hitter here without having muscle spasms rubbed from his back between innings, and not today, when the craziness of opening day swirled around him.
Mike Boddicker brought both his pinpoint control and roundhouse curveball to work this afternoon, and that made the day almost simple: a four-hit, complete game for him, and a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays for the Baltimore Orioles.
He was so good that he was saluted in both clubhouses. It was the sort of outing that made him laugh a little harder when told Blue Jays broadcaster Tony Kubek called him "one of the 10 best-dressed men in Norway, Iowa. He has bib overalls in several different colors."
Boddicker (1-0) could laugh because he knew in the first inning of Toronto's home opener this day might be different, and this day was.
"That was as good as he has ever been," Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey said. "Even the umpire [Steve Palermo] complimented him. He said almost all his pitches were right on the corner, not quite strikes and not quite balls. When you have that kind of control, you're not going to lose too many games."
His only danger would have been the Orioles not getting him enough runs, and that was a definite possibility because the Toronto pitcher was 35-year-old Doyle Alexander (1-1), whom they hadn't beaten since 1978.
Alexander pretty much matched Boddicker's 133-pitch effort. Boddicker allowed a run in the first inning on shortstop Tony Fernandez's single and stolen base, and Dempsey's two-base throwing error.
Alexander allowed one in the third on the first of Dempsey's two doubles and second baseman Alan Wiggins' RBI double. Then he allowed the winning run in the fifth when left fielder John Shelby singled, stole second, went to third on third baseman Juan Bonilla's single and scored on Dempsey's second double.
But with runners on second and third and none out, Alexander left them there, getting Wiggins on a line drive to Fernandez before striking out right fielder Lee Lacy and shortstop Cal Ripken.
The Orioles (4-3) had only two more base runners after that, and Alexander, a change-up, finesse artist himself, finished with a complete-game, nine-hitter, only his fifth loss to the Orioles (against nine victories).
"They were two artists out there," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "They both moved the ball around, got the breaking balls over for strikes and the fastballs in on the fists. That's the way you're supposed to pitch."
Played on a sunny, 54-degree day, this opening day attracted 43,587 to Exhibition Stadium, and many of them were in a party mood early. American League President Dr. Bobby Brown presented the AL East championship flag and Toronto singer Gordon Lightfoot sang the national anthems to start things off.
Cue the party. Canada's version of Morganna (the Kissing Bandit) jogged on the field in the fourth inning but never got close to her target (Blue Jays third baseman Rance Mulliniks).
About that time, fans began racing back and forth between the seats of the football field beyond the right field wall. In the early innings, police scuffled with them, but by the eighth, they'd given up and let the relays continue.
Then, there were the people running on the field, about a dozen of them in total, so many that Weaver announced he was playing the game under protest, his way of telling the umpires they had a right to declare a forfeit.
"What bothered me was that fans twice ran on the field with Cliff [Johnson] at the plate," Boddicker said. "I'm standing out there with a 3-2 count, trying to set him up for a third strike, and here comes some guy out of the stands."
Weaver said: "I don't know why people do that. I know I wouldn't want to jump on the field, get whacked by the police and have to pay a $100 fine."
Lloyd Moseby said: "That's unfortunate. If we were somewhere else, we'd laugh about it, but these were our own fans. I guess baseball is getting so popular here, you're going to have some incidents like this."
In all, 126 people were ejected from the stadium.
All of this distracted from two keys: Boddicker's terrific performance, and the Orioles' continued lack of hitting, especially with men on base.
First baseman Eddie Murray went zero for four and is hitting .111 with no RBI, the longest he has gone at the beginning of a season without an RBI. In all, the Orioles' team batting average is .237, the team ERA 2.48.
Other than their two scoring innings, the Orioles had very few chances, with double plays ending their first and fourth innings. After Dempsey's RBI double gave them that 2-1 lead in the fifth, they had only two more runners off Alexander, one when Fred Lynn walked in the sixth and the other when designated hitter Larry Sheets had a one-out single in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays did even less with Boddicker. Two of their first three batters got hits, but after that, he allowed only four base runners.
The one time he was in trouble was in the fourth when a walk to Mulliniks and an infield single by George Bell (and a stolen base) put runners on second and third with one out.
But he got out of it by striking out right fielder Jesse Barfield on three slow, slower, slowest curveballs and Johnson on a fastball at the fists. The last Toronto base runner was Johnson, who walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the seventh.