Opening Day


One of the greatest names – and THE greatest delivery – the game has ever known belonged to Van Lingle Mungo

It returns on a brisk day, the kind that requires a few extra layers. It’s the kind of day we normally rue and call miserable, but today it’s the most beautiful day ever. Today is rebirth and rejuvenation, summer and Christmas in April. Greatest day of the year.

The grass outside is dead and brown, but inside all will be June-worthy emerald green. The sun glares through an icy sky, the winds whip and summer seems years away. But today summer begins. Today we step off the street, through a turnstile and into a dreamland of warm nights, weekends that seem endless and escapism from the hard facts of life.

Today is Opening Day.

Today is the day that has whispered all throughout the winter. It’s all about bunting and Americana and having the exuberance of a kid again. Great seats! Dog and a beer, and time to break in that new cap. Grab a score card and get inside the game.

The winter of our speculative discontent is over. All the could have and should have trades are done, and the roster is set. Hey, let’s play ball!

Our kid pitcher looked good in spring training, but the first visiting batter looks good too. The mental cat-and-mouse game between pitcher and hitter is on, and we play inside ball in our seats, second guessing, anticipating and discussing with seat mates. This turns to reminiscing and swapping stories, and buying rounds.

We sit in the chill of a brisk April day for a few hours, watching the game of youth and feeling the warm nights so soon to come. We marvel in the beauty of a perfectly executed double-play and a bang-bang out at the plate. We jeer as the opposing pitcher throws to first one too many times, and we talk about the greatest games we ever saw, in these same seats and in other parks. And for a few hours we leave our mundane worlds behind and enter the dreamland.

Today is summer and Christmas, and we are reborn and rejuvenated, despite the sharp April winds and sepia landscape. It’s Opening Day. Greatest day of the year.

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21 comments
  1. Do you love baseball?

    • I do!

      • I thought you did. You’ve written about it a few times. Although I don’t love sports in general much, baseball is my favorite.

  2. clownonfire said:

    Brian,
    We once had a baseball team. They were truly loved but never had a chance against their hockey equivalent.
    Also. I tried liking your Facebook page, but the link is broken.
    Le Clown

    • D’oh! I’ll check that link. When I was in Florida in the mid ’80s, our Double A team was a Montreal affiliate. I still have my Bleu, Blanc & Rouge chapeau around somewhere.

  3. I get the poetry of what you’re saying here, even though I still can’t watch a game. Last week’s rant is still my truth. What can I say.

    • Fair enough. ;) I can’t get enough Ken Burns, also. We’ve got that going together.

  4. Once again, you’ve painted a great picture with words. I appreciate your enthusiasm for a game that, I myself, find insufferable. haha! I actually enjoy the concessions, the atmosphere, the crowd’s love of the sport, the excitement, etc., but just not the game itself. I know, I’m in the minority on this one.

  5. I’m sure a lot of people find baseball boring, and to an extent I agree: I almost never sit through nine innings on TV. But when you take the time to
    really learn what’s going on – the mental aspect – it’s incredibly exciting. To me, anyway. There are so many mental calculations that go on before every pitch, and it’s a blast to try to think along with pitcher and hitter. Baseball is as mentally exacting as any form of math, science, etc. It’s chess and warfare. That’s what I really love, along with the history and the connection to eras that I get every time I step through that turnstile. Pure magic. My humble opinion…

    • I think it’s the history, science and math that must be turning me off — too much like school! ha!

      Seriously, it makes sense that you would like it, it’s very romantic. I get it. But for me it’s like jumping into a movie or TV series 3/4’s of the way through. I would need A LOT of explaining to catch up.

      However, I did love “The Natural” with Robert Redford. I think he captured the magic of baseball in that film.

  6. Now…how were you able to make me excited for baseball when I really only like basketball?! ;)

    • At your service, ma’am.

  7. More than anything else, I love the history and the connection to eras that baseball allows me. Baseball allows me to call my own players, teams and
    ballparks that haven’t existed for decades. My dad was born in Bay Ridge Brooklyn in 1940, and he grew up watching the Brooklyn Dodgers play at
    Ebbets Field. He actually saw Jackie Robinson play, along with Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snyder, Willie Mays, Stan Musial…all the greats of his era. The Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1958 and Ebbets Field was destroyed in 1960. But thanks to his stories and the great wealth of photographs and
    film that exists, in my minds-eye I can conjure a reasonable facsimile of what it was like to sit in the upper deck of Ebbets Field, watching Jackie,
    pondering Eisenhower and the cold war in a world with limited television and no clue what an internet is. That’s a gift I treasure, and baseball especially allows that connection.

  8. writerwendyreid said:

    Another great post Brian. I was waiting, especially near the end, for some hint at whether “Opening day” was an official day at a stadium or first game of your kid’s little league season….although I guess the “dogs and beer” should have been a clue…lol

    • Fill in your own blanks, Wendy. *grin*

  9. free penny press said:

    Some of my fondest childhood memories were siting on the stoop with my Grandfather as he listened to baseball games every Saturday night on an old radio..
    loved going to my brothers Little League games (and no, not just for the cute guys in uniform) & now live in the town where the Yankees do spring training..
    Loved your post and love b-a-s-e-b-a-l-l!!!!

    • YES! Sitting on the porch, twisting the antena, trying to find the signal. That sound and feeling is deep in my DNA!

  10. Amen.

    • Bless you, my son.

  11. Sarah said:

    Perfect! I couldn’t love this anymore if I tried…

    • awww… *blush*

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