That is the temporal title of one of my favorite books on baseball, by Thomas Boswell the distinguished sportswriter for the Washington Post. Or there’s always the goofy but irresistibly endearing movie It Happens Every Spring starring Ray Milland as a hapless professor who accidentally discovers a substance that makes a baseball repellent to wood and improbably becomes a major league pitching sensation.
Happy Opening Day, everyone! The first pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. Monday in Cincinnati, long the traditional site of Opening Day, though Sunday is technically opening night. What fan’s heart doesn’t leap at the strains of the National Anthem, the thwack of the first pitch—usually a fastball—nailing the catcher’s mitt, the roar of the crowd for the first hometown hit.
Opening Day…it not only celebrates the start of the season, it is a celebration of hope itself. (Maybe it should be called National Hope Day.) Who is more hopeful than a baseball fan? Who has more reason to hope?
For that one magical day, everyone is in first place and anything is possible, even for the most lowly, underpayrolled small-market club in the league. The long season lies ahead, a road rising to the horizon and beyond, and no one knows what prize might lie at its end.
Which is why fans flock to the parks on Opening Day. I fell in love with major league ballparks a long time ago. Almost nothing compares to the first time you walk into one, especially if you’re a kid. It’s like entering another dimension, as if God scooped up a slice of pastoral America and set it down in the urban hearts of the great cities.
And then there is the food. I eat my first hot dog of the year on Opening Day, even if I’m not actually in the ballpark. When I first came to New York and could rarely afford a ticket to Opening Day, I used to take the subway up to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, hit a hot dog vendor and stand outside the great stadium listening to the cheers of the crowd drifting out of the historic gray edifice.
So here we go again, our hopes and prayers poised at the starting line. Everyone take a deep breath….one, two, three: PLAY BALL!
P.S. I’m having a baseball fantasy come true on April 28 when I’ll be throwing out the first pitch and hosting GUIDEPOSTS readers at Inspirational Fan Day at beautiful Fluor Field, home of the minor league Greenville Drive baseball team in Greenville, South Carolina. Later in the summer we’ll be honoring the fan with the most inspirational story.
Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President at GUIDEPOSTS.