Today I am a little sad. Why, you ask? I’m sad because its Opening Day for baseball and I’m sitting halfway across the globe with no baseball to be found. I know it seems a little silly, I am traveling around the world and I am sitting here despondent over a game, keep things in perspective, right? But I am a huge baseball fan and in my hometown it’s a city-wide holiday. There is history, fanfare, and even a parade – and who doesn’t love a parade?
Baseball is synonymous with Cincinnati. You can’t talk about baseball history without talking about the Queen City. The Reds (then called the Red Stockings) were the first professional baseball team. The Reds played the first ever night game in baseball history in 1935. The Reds had the best team ever in the Big Red Machine from 1970 to 1976. I could ramble off at least a dozen or so more stats, but you get the drift: the history of baseball runs deep in Cincy and I keep lots of useless sports information in my head.
How does all this history tie into Opening Day? Well, since 1876, the Reds have played every season opener at home (with the exception of once in 1990). For a while, there was even a rule in baseball that the first game of the season be played in Cincinnati. It was a political rite of passage for Presidents to thrown out the first pitch on Opening Day in Cincinnati.
I remember even in school Opening Day was a big deal. Televisions were wheeled into classrooms and lunch rooms to watch the Opening Day game. Many kids were not in school that day, as their parents would take them to the Findley Market Parade and later to the ballpark to watch the game.
To me, Opening Day is more than history and pageantry, more than just the start of another sports season. It means winter is over and spring is in the air. It means summer nights outside with friends and listening to Marty Brennamen on the radio. It means one of the things I love, baseball, has come back.
There is an air of childlike innocence that surrounds Opening Day. Grown men share stories and reminisce on their favorite baseball memories. It’s a day that can take you back in time, when sports heroes were larger than life, when the limits of your imagination were the only limits you had.
So today I am a little sad and maybe just a little homesick. Today is one of those few days where I would rather be at home than traveling. But I know that this feeling will soon pass, and life will go on, and I will be happy to be on the road.
And who knows, maybe sometime in the years to come I will be around to take my nephews to Opening Day, where they can create their own experiences and memories to reminisce on decades later.