The American flag will wave brilliantly with a clear blue sky as a backdrop. Large airplanes will fly over the stadium following the National Anthem. There will be the smell of hot dogs and peanuts saturating the air. And loud cheers will welcome the fan’s favorite team. Those will be some of the sights, sounds and smells thousands of people will take in during baseball’s Opening Day at stadiums across our great nation.
Opening Day. Two beautiful words for every fan, fanatic or casual observer of baseball. It is the one day of the year where every team starts the slate clean. The team and their fans hope that this is the year to achieve post-season greatness.
Hope. It’s a powerful word. It doesn’t matter what happened last year. It doesn’t matter what the history of your franchise has been. It’s about today. It’s about the future.
It’s like Christmas morning before opening up the presents. Only it’s early April. And the Christmas tree is an area of green grass, brown dirt, a big scoreboard and thousands of screaming fans on the edge of their seats.
Opening Day brings back a flood of personal memories about baseball years gone by. I remember my Granddad Stewart visiting from Jacksboro. He would always listen to the Rangers game on the radio. And sometimes he and I would go to the old Arlington Stadium to watch Texas play.
I remember playing Little League baseball and the excitement of putting on the uniform for the first game of the season. There was nothing like it.
Baseball was a father-son bonding experience. My dad balanced four full-time jobs. He was a junior college professor, city councilman, church leader and a husband/father. Yet, he managed to find time to grab a catcher’s mitt, go to the backyard and help me with my pitching. He probably still has bruises on his shin from a fastball that would dance, dip and not hit the glove. Whoops.
Baseball is a learning experience. I got the chance, one summer, to coach my little brother’s t-ball team. Young minds were open to the lessons of one of the greatest games that can be played in our country.
And now, on the eve of Opening Day, I am like that little kid from so many years ago. This will be my sixth consecutive year to attend a Texas Rangers home opening day. Over the years, I’ve shared the experience with church friends and even my brother who I coached t-ball.
It’s a special day that I cherish. Hope is alive. Is this the year the team that I have followed and cheered decades for actually wins the final game of the post-season and bring home the World Series trophy? At least for one day I can say with full confidence…YES!
And memories will be made with friends as we sit back at the stadium and watch grown men play a game that is loved by millions.
Welcome back, baseball! I’ll see you at the ballpark.