April 1. It’s time for major league baseball opening day. No April fooling about this!
I’ve always loved opening day. It signals the end of winter. No more snow. No more cold weather. That might not be exactly true in Chicago, but it’s close…maybe.
My first live Cubs opening day at Wrigley Field was in 1965. I went with a bunch of junior high friends. Ernie Banks hit a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game ended with that tie score because Wrigley Field didn’t have lights back then. Ballgame called on account of darkness.
I’ve been to so many openers since that first one that I have lost count. I’ve skipped school and work to be there. One year I was interviewed by ABC/Channel 7 before the game. When my boss saw it that night, he was more than a little pissed off since he didn’t know I was blowing off work to go to the game. Oh well…my dad got over it.
About ten years ago, I decided I had seen enough live openers. They seem to almost always be on brutally cold and windy days. At my supposed last one, in the fifth inning, I needed to use one of the lovely Wrigley Field bathrooms. When I entered I found myself shaking and chilled as if I had the flu. I left the park and headed to a neighborhood bar. It was a much more sensible way to watch baseball.
Then there was three years ago. After opening the season on the road, the Cubs home opener was scheduled for April 9. It was snowed out. The next day my brother calls me about an hour before game time. He has tickets and wants to know if I want to go. Sure…why not. I mean the temperature is in the 40’s so how bad can it be? Live opening day baseball was back!
Four layers of clothing weren’t enough. There were more vendors selling hot chocolate than beer. Ten bucks for a cup of warm water with some powdered chocolate.
So tomorrow when the Cubs open the new season against the Pirates, I’ll be watching from the comfort of my home. No heavy coat, no hoodie, no wool cap, and no ten-dollar cup of warm chocolate. It’ll be baseball the way it’s meant to be watched in early April….sitting in front of a television.
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