I always feel better on Opening Day. The world seems brighter & fresher with a new season ahead. It’s a clean slate for a summer full of great plays, good games, & exciting new things to see. Win or lose, the 162 games weave a story of the season that can’t be predicted at that first pitch, no matter how much someone thinks they know the ins and outs of every team.
How many times has a team rallied towards the end of the season to overtake the favorites and get into the playoffs? What about those unforeseen injuries that can dash a team’s hopes at any time during the year, derailing dreams they had of the post-season? And what about late season acquisitions or emerging heroes who step up to the plate when least expected or when their team needs it the most? We’ve all seen it, and as baseball analyst Marty Lurie says, “It’s baseball. Anything can happen.”
Even as a kid, Opening Day was something special. Back then, it meant that school would be out soon and I’d have a summer of bare feet, sunny skies, fresh fruit picked off our trees, and baseball played in the yard or street while the game blasted on all the neighbors’ radios. And usually, I’d fall once more for my father’s joke: “They’re not serving beer at Candlestick this season!” “Why?” I’d ask, not really caring but it sounded serious. “Well, because the Giants lost the opener,” Dad would reply. *Groan* It took a few years before I caught on to his silliness.
As an adult, I’ve always considered Opening Day as a national holiday. Recently, over 102,000 people signed a petition through We The People, a website where anyone can bring up an issue of national importance and if there are enough petitioners, the White House must respond. Unfortunately, the White House doesn’t have the power to make holidays, only Congress does, and they responded thus: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/declare-major-league-baseball-opening-day-national-holiday/3XNmgfBb
But maybe we don’t need national recognition. There are enough baseball fans out there who celebrate in their own way. My Giants windsock is hanging in front of the house. I’m wearing my team colors today (orange and black) and baseball earrings with my 2012 World Series Champs necklace. My friends and I have been in contact via a variety of means, wishing each other well on this special day. Most of us are looking at the schedule to see which games we’ll be going to in the next few months.
One of my favorite Opening Day stories happened many years ago, when the Giants were still playing at Candlestick Park and I made sure I was there at the first pitch every year. I came back to work the next day to this phone message from my friend and colleague, Stu, from San Diego. ‘Hi Carolyn, It’s Stu. I wanted to talk to you about . . . (pause) . . . . Oh, wait. It’s Opening Day. You’re not there. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Stu and my other friends, know me well!
Since I’ve been celebrating this day for many years, maybe I don’t need a national holiday. And for everyone else who is honoring our great national pastime today: here’s to hope, summer, good times, and a great season.