Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Opening Day

Tomorrow we all get to hit the reset button again.   And, sorry, folks, I'm not talking about the November election results.   I'm thinking something a lot more positive.

The start of a new baseball season.  It begins anew in Dodger Stadium tomorrow just from the photo above from 1962...the park's virgin year.

Yep, for a few minutes right at the start, everybody is going to be tied for first place and last place simultaneously.  There will be equality that we can only imagine in other parts of our lives.   Then somebody will yell "play ball," a second baseman will drop one and suddenly we will have our first loser of the year.  And our very first hero.

When I was a kid, the anticipation started early in February when the very first box of baseball cards would land at Morris' candy store on South Tenth Avenue in Mount Vernon, New York.   You'd start buying and chewing and memorizing the stats on the back of the cards.   The established stars.   The up-and-coming rookies.  

As early March approached, you had all these facts committed to memory just in time for that very first Saturday of the month when the Mets would make their first appearance...albeit on the a spring training game from St. Petersburg, Florida.  The game was meaningless and usually included players who would never ever see the major leagues, but I didn't care.   Listening again to Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy made you realize that there was hope springing eternal one more time.

It was during these nothing games where the announcers would start selling tickets for the new season.   And, of course, everybody should be "at Shea Stadium for Opening Day."

My ears would perk up.   There were plenty of good seats available.   Dad?

Yeah, the annual disappointment also began anew.   There was little chance I would ever get my father to take me to Opening Day.   It fell into his Bermuda Triangle of excuses.    It was either too hot (not likely), too cold (very likely), or too crowded.   

The latter is what my father focused on.

"Why do we want to go out there with all those nuts?"

Yeah, but it's Opening Day.

My dad would dutifully take me to three or four games a baseball season, but Opening Day was never one of them.  I watched the game from afar.   Well, actually, my living room television set.  Even that took some doing as I would have to fall victim to a nasty sore throat that morning in school.

Years later, when I became the parent in the baseball relationship, I called my father and invited him to Opening Day at Shea the next week.   Oddly, there was no worrying about temperatures or crowds.   Dad willingly went along.

That would be the first and only Opening Day we shared.

These days, I am on a different coast and in a different uniform jersey.   And, in Los Angeles, you don't have to worry about a wind chill on Opening Day.   As for annoying crowds, they are there but I deal.

Yep, tomorrow is perhaps my twelfth straight Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. And, as life always has it just once a baseball season, everybody is equal.

Dinner last night:  Honey walnut shrimp at Panda Express.

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