Happiness Is Baseball Opening Day!
by Melissa Minners
Football fans will scoff at me. Hockey fans will snort. Basketball and soccer fans will walk away in disgust. I don’t care. Opening day of the baseball season equals happiness and I don’t care who doesn’t share my opinion. Each year, I mourn the last day of the baseball post-season. Every year, I wait patiently for months until the day that pitchers and catchers head off to spring training. I check out the scores of the spring training games, yearning for the first day of the official season. I mark the date down on my calendar and count down until the fateful day when the new season will begin.
And then it happens – opening day! My heart soars with happiness in anticipation of the hour when the first ball will be thrown and the season will officially begin. No matter where I am…no matter what I’m doing…no matter what time of the day the game takes place, I have to be there. Of course, sometimes it’s physically impossible to be at the game – especially when it is played in another country. But I don’t have to be there physically to relish in the joy and excitement that pervades the stadium, an infectious beast that taints every being in the ballpark and beyond. No, all I have to have is a television, radio, or computer with streaming capability and I’m there, sharing in that excitement, that joy that comes with being a part of something reborn.
The rebirth of the baseball season begins with the crack of the bat, the smack of a baseball hitting the leather mitt, the swoosh of someone sliding into base, the pounding of feet running the base paths, and the scraping of spiked shoes on dirt as players dig in. It’s the umpire yelling the calls, the announcers' banter, and the organ music inciting the crowd to roar. It’s the very roar of that crowd that gets the juices flowing, the blood pumping, that sets the heart to soar.
To actually be in the park for opening day - to experience the sights, the sounds, the smells – is an opportunity I have never been fortunate to have. But I have been to the park during the baseball season. I have experienced the joy of coming to my favorite stadium and rooting my favorite team to victory, thousands of rabid fans by my side. People I have never seen before suddenly become my best friend and we have rousing conversations about the team and the game at hand. I once witnessed a baby speak what her parents would tell me was her very first word. Clad in the blue and orange of the young family’s favorite team, the baby cried out, “Mets!” The excitement of the crowd is just one thing that gets the blood racing at the ballpark. The sounds of the game – the announcer’s voice echoing from everywhere in the stadium, the organ-player spurring on the crowd, the calling of venders as they hawk their wares up and down the aisles - and the smells and tastes of the game – hot dogs, roasted peanuts, Cracker Jack – all of these things combine to complete the incredible experience that is the game. To see the players practicing before the game…to watch them play their hearts out – it’s an experience like no other.
Ah, baseball! To me there is no greater sport played! Sure, there are grumblings…there are scandals, but no one can take away from me the beauty of opening day, a day when all is begun anew and hopes soar to their greatest heights.