Since 1907, every April — despite war, civil strife or even steroids — begins with the same thing: Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.
In a celebration of the sport and our national pasttime, MLB kicks off its season with pomp and circumstance, highlighted by day games, ring ceremonies and United State presidents throwing out the first pitch.
Despite the invention of televisions and prime time games, Opening Day baseball is played like the sport is supposed to be played — in the daytime and in front of thousands of spectators.
This week, starting April 5 in Miami with the debut of the new Miami Marlins ballpark, the baseball season makes its annual return.
With it, of course, comes hope for the bottom dwellers and continued success for the top teams of the sport such as Boston and New York. Despite baseball’s many changes — especially this year with the new playoff system and a reconfigured instant replay rule — Opening Day always remains the same.
Every ballpark is filled with red, white and blue banners and a sense of excitement — even if the team is the Kansas City Royals. And every team has hope that this year could be the year — even the Chicago Cubs.
But for me, who has grown up around the sport thanks to my father and extended family, Opening Day is so much more. It’s a day that’s full of memories.
I’ve sadly never had the ability to go to an Opening Day game. The closest was last year when I attended the game when the Giants received their World Series rings donning gold-plated jerseys. Technically, it was opening night — not the same but close enough.
Throughout my childhood, living in valley-town Tracy, Opening Day was the time to sit down and relax with my father. Most of the time, we barbecued, played some catch and watched the game from our couch.
We sat there and talked about what this year could bring — or if we agreed with the Giants’ offseason moves. As a diehard Giants fan, I cringed when the team let great players go — Jeff Kent, Rich Aurilia, Matt Williams — and was excited for their big pickups — yes, even Barry Zito.
As with all kids and their fathers, we didn’t agree on too much but with baseball and the Giants, we always found something good to talk about.
During this week in college, classes were an afterthought, especially when a class and game coincided. I chose the game and did my work later — and yes, I still graduated with good grades.
In high school, I would race home to catch the game. Because it was only one day a year, my parents really didn’t care as long as I eventually made up my work.
If anything, my father looked forward to the day just as much as me.
Now, we don’t live necessarily that close — two hours is still two hours — and I now work just as much as him. But every year, at this time, we talk about the Giants and our expectations.
Now 25 years into my life, Opening Day is still one of the best days of the year — behind my birthday and Christmas, of course.
Regardless of what happens this year in the MLB season, no day matches the excitement of the first day. And that’s the beauty of baseball and greatness of the oldest professional game in America.
So on April 5, when the Cardinals — without superstar Albert Pujols — visit the neon-green laced Marlins Park in Miami, sit back and enjoy. It’s time to celebrate a new season.