There is nothing like Opening Day in Major League Baseball. No other sport has a designated name for the first game of the season. They just choose "season opener" and start playing. But baseball is different. Opening Day is always full of pomp and circumstance. It's a special day for everyone. Most games are sell outs, though the attendance for game two is always much less.
Baseball was once considered to be our "National Past Time" and to some people it still is.
Watching baseball back in 1920 was a bigger deal than it is today. There was nothing else to do really but put on your best clothes and go to a baseball game. Now...there are many more options for people to pass the time. Baseball though is still the best way I know to entertain people. There is nothing better than taking the family to a ball game, complete with popcorn, Cracker Jacks hot dogs and cold drinks.
The recent "World Baseball Classic" was indeed just that. A classic event, that ended in the best way possible. Mike Trout facing his Angels' teammate Shohei Ohtani in a one run game in the ninth inning. Ohtani won this battle as he struck out Trout, giving Japan a 3-2 victory over Team USA. There could never be a better match up. Arguably the two best players in the world facing each other with everything at stake. TV ratings went out the roof and the international tournament has been one of the most talked about events in a long while and it was a great way to get the baseball season underway.
I have personally been to a few opening days myself and the excitement of that first pitch is amazing. The most memorable opening day I've ever attended was the 1976 home opener for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Baseball had been gone for more than a decade and a group of local businessmen, led by Woody Reid brought the sport back to Chattanooga. The sold out crowd that night at historic Engel Stadium was electric as they watched the Lookouts claim an opening win. The Lookouts, then a franchise of the Oakland A's defeated the Charlotte Orioles 8-3, led by a grand slam home run by Mark Budaska. The 1976 season was a magical one as the Lookouts went on to make the Southern League playoffs. I still take pride in being the first "Voice of the Lookouts" that year on WDOD radio.
Opening Day is always a special day whether it's at a big league park, a minor league stadium or even a youth sports venue. Playing baseball is one of the great experiences a young person can have. When one of my grandsons was thinking about not playing baseball this year, I asked him if he had any idea how much I would give to be able to play baseball again. He smiled and said nothing but he has practice this evening and will open his season this weekend.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org