Opening Day, a Baseball Fan’s National Holiday

Everyone has their favorite holiday. For some it is the sights and sounds of Christmas. For others it is the family values of Thanksgiving. Still others love the patriotic nature of Independence Day. No matter the holiday, they have one thing in common. They bring back memories of our childhood to simpler days filled with joy and the love of those around us.

For baseball fans, that holiday has to be Opening Day. There will be some that will argue Opening Day is not a holiday but I would beg to differ. It is a day recognized throughout the land as one signifying a new beginning, the coming of spring and ultimately the survival of the fittest.

It begins early each spring when most of the country is still blanketed in white. Players and coaches will migrate to Arizona and Florida and begin the rituals of Spring Training. This will be followed by exhibition games getting the players and the fans ready for the marathon that is the baseball season.

Everything culminates when rosters are trimmed down to 25 and teams make the trek northward to their respective cities. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, that means making the short drive from Tucson to Phoenix.

This season, the Diamondbacks find themselves opening the season at Chase Field against their divisional rivals the San Diego Padres. Both teams struggled last year and both have multiple question marks surrounding their rosters.

Opening Day is not a time to think about all of the potential pitfalls or negatives of a team. It is a time to look ahead. Finally after what seemed like an eternity the Diamondbacks can put behind them the dismal 2009 season where they lost 92 games. Today they start fresh tied for first place with every other team in baseball.

The gates to Chase Field opened at noon leading up to a 2:10 PM first pitch start time. Like many fans I was at the ballpark early wanting to walk through the turnstiles and soak in all the ambiance that I have so dearly missed during the off-season.

Walking through the gates I wondered if this would be the year that the Diamondbacks would turn things around. Would I be making this same walk in October making my way to my seats to watch play-off baseball return to Chase Field?

The grass of the playing surface would never look as good as it does this day. The fresh cut blades remind us that summer will soon be here and with it the heat and activities such as swimming or having a BBQ while listening to a game on the radio.

The stadium walls were graced with the red white and blue bunting that is brought out for special occasions. It is a reminder that in baseball circles today is a holiday. Everywhere you look there are smiling faces with a twinkle in their eye as they look forward to another baseball season.

The pre-game ceremonies are always special on Opening Day. Each of the teams make their way to the first and third baselines where the public address announcer introduces each player to the cheering crowds.

The flag is unfurled in center field and the sweet notes of the national anthem resonate through the sold out flag. As the song ends a squadron of F-16 fighter jets fly over Chase Field to the delight of everyone in attendance.

Finally after building the anticipation to a crescendo a young fan on the Diamondbacks dugout utters those two words every baseball fan has been longing to hear, “Play Ball!” It is here, baseball season has finally arrived.

As I sit in the stands in Section 132 Row 9 Seat 9 I cannot help but smile. This is what makes Opening Day the perfect holiday. Surrounded by 49,192 fans who feel the same way I do, all is right with the world especially when the Diamondbacks win.


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