Do you have any baseball traditions you do?
Opening Day is the day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season. For Major League Baseball and most of the minor leagues, this day falls during the first week of April. For baseball fans, Opening Day serves as a symbol of rebirth; writer Thomas Boswell once penned a book titled, Why Time Begins on Opening Day. Many feel that the occasion represents a newness or a chance to forget last season, in that the 30 major league clubs and their millions of fans begin with 0-0 records.
For generations, Opening Day has arrived amid pageantry. In Cincinnati, Ohio, home of the sport's first professional team, an annual parade marks an unofficial "city holiday" with young and old alike taking the day off to cheer on the Reds. For decades, the first pitch of every major league season officially took place in Cincinnati. Cincinnati remains the only team who always opens the season with a home game (except in 1990 when the Reds opened the season at the Houston Astrodome). The past decade has brought the introduction of a Sunday night opening game televised by ESPN, as well as the staging of season-opening series in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan (with the current World Series champion as the "home" team against an opponent in the same league). The ensuing Monday brings Opening Day to numerous major league ballparks and the game that day in Cincinnati is still observed throughout baseball as the "traditional opener." Opening Day is a state of mind as well, with countless baseball fans known to recognize this unofficial holiday as a good reason to call in sick at work or be truant from school (as most teams typically play their home opener in the afternoon) and go out to the ballpark for the first of 162 regular season games. Teams' home openers serve as the only regular season games during the year in which the entire rosters of both teams as well as coaches and clubhouse staff are introduced to the crowd prior to the games (for the rest of the year, ballparks only introduce the starting lineups).
Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, who played for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, once said: "An opener is not like any other game. There's that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can't lose 'em all."
Opening Day extends throughout the sport of baseball, to hundreds of minor league baseball franchises as well as to college, high school, youth league fields and in areas far beyond North America. Since Major League Baseball generally starts their season first among professional leagues, their Opening Day is the one most commonly recognized by the general public. Most of the minor leagues start a few days later, but within the same week; the short-season Class A and Rookie leagues are exceptions, since they begin play in June. Opening Day ignores the exhibition games played during spring training in the month leading up to Opening Day.
Prior to Opening Day, the teams' managers have to decide the starting pitchers for the game, which is a spot typically given to the teams' ace pitcher. For a pitcher to start on Opening Day is considered an honor.