For Baltimore baseball fans, Opening Day conjures up a myriad of sentiments and sensations that tug close to the heart and delve deep into the mind. It also signals the restart of the day-to-day rituals associated with following our home team Orioles. Like getting up each morning, coffee, cream and sugar, to pour over yesterday’s line score and where we are in the standings, which spills over to a string of mental probes centered on our prospects for the next game up. Can the starting pitcher get into the seventh? Will the GM call up the Double-A hotshot who’s been ripping it up a Bowie? Will the return of the cartoon bird bring about a magical return to our winning ways (how’d that one slip in there?). Is the left-fielder really fast enough to bat leadoff? And on and on it goes, every day, for six months. Morning to night. The daily ritual of baseball fandom.
But Opening Day also means the smell of cut grass, of fathers and sons, side-by-side, year after year. Of playing catch, the iconic crucible of horsehide pounding leather. And getting out of school early and feeling special. And wearing that old Orioles warm-up jacket, and being proud it still almost fits. And remembering other home openers, from the first time you walked up the ramp and saw the perfectly manicured green and brown diamond in 1954, to the sunny April 1st day when the wind chill was so severe they called the game and all the media at first took it for an April Fools joke.
But mostly Opening Day is about renewal; the real start of Spring, when we look forward with hope to the new season, while at the same time remembering and sensing all that came before, all that got us to this moment in time. Baltimoreans have a long tradition of Orioles’ home openers that dates back to 1882, the year the team took its name. Since then they’ve played in the American Association, the National League, the International League and the American League, but play they have, establishing one of the great legacies in all of sport.
Baltimore baseball fans, the startup of yet another campaign brings all those years and all those team, and all their fans, and all those memories, together to make for one hell of an orange and black smorgasborg!
Happy Opening Day, Baltimore!
Executive Director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation