Ah yes, It’s finally here…Opening Day 2011! The beginning of baseball season has always created a particular fervor in the hearts of baseball fans worldwide. The fans all feel that their teams are primed and ready for a run at baseball’s holy grail. Every team pretty much has that same sentiment, but on a personal level, the uniqueness of an opening day for a player is a very special time.
Opening day is special for a myriad of reasons: the promise of the upcoming season; new goals have been set and have yet to be realized; the prospects of this being a historical season; the feeling that the season is actually upon us; the fans can’t wait to see the hot shot rookie. Whatever your particular sentiment, you have to admit that baseball does something to all of us.
As a player, opening day means that the marathon has officially begun. It’s on! It is time to play for real and oh yeah, we can finally start getting paid! That’s right, I said it. We love the game, but we don’t get salary during spring training so the season provides that extra perk.
I can remember my first opening day. I spent the entire night before in a New York hotel projectile vomiting due to a foul meal the night before. I felt like a pound of crap all the way up until “play ball." I couldn’t keep anything down, but there was no way this salmonella or whatever it was would keep me down and out of that line-up. This was my day, dammit! I ended up getting a couple of knocks in my first opening day in front of the Shea Hateful.
For a first timer, I would compare it to how a kid would feel walking through the monumental gates of Disney World for the first time and having Mickey Mouse himself give you an ice cream cone while crowning you with your own personal set of ears! It really is that unbelievable. It’s the realization of a lifelong dream. Can you imagine what that must feel like?
As the years passed and I had the honor of making eight consecutive opening day rosters, that euphoric feeling never really waned. It was as every bit as exciting year after year. I think the feeling was more gracious in nature. I was genuinely thankful for those amazing opportunities. Not a lot of people get to say that they were a part of any opening day and I’m proud of that.
Ultimately, not making that opening day roster means that you more than likely are back on the farm or maybe even at home, no longer allowed to play the game that you’ve developed a unique relationship with over the course of your lifetime. The fact is, you may never know when it may be your last. This is part of what makes it so special to us.
Happy Baseball Season Philly Phaithful!