Budweiser Wants Opening Day to be a National Holiday. I Agree.
Budweiser and Major League Baseball legend Ozzie Smith have announced their petition on White House.gov to get a national holiday for opening day. They are hoping for 100,000 signatures by March 31st to have the petition reviewed by the current administration.
Opening day was always an unofficial holiday in my house growing up in Minneapolis. From the time I was probably 7 or 8, my mom would write a note to the school excusing me from classes on opening day so we could go see the Minnesota Twins play at Metropolitan Stadium (yes, where the Mall of America now stands)
When I was very young, she and I would go to the game with a few of my friends and maybe one other mom from the neighborhood. This was back in the days of the $2 bleacher seat and 40 cent hot dog, so it was at least a little affordable for a family to take in a game.
As I got older, mom would still write the note, or call the school, letting them know I wouldn't be in class on opening day. The tradition lasted all the way through my senior year in high school!
On one April night, before the season began in 1974, the Atlanta Braves came to town to face my beloved Twins. My mom had gotten the company seats from KSTP-TV and Radio in the Twin Cities where she worked for that game, which were just a couple of rows off the field along the first base line. Before the game started, they held a home run hitting contest between Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew and the man that it my book who is still othe all-time home run king, Hank Aaron (big old asterisk next to Barry Bonds' name!)
Aaron was going to break Babe Ruth's all-time home run mark just a couple of weeks later as he entered the season just short of catching the Babe at the end of the 1973 season. The Twins handed out Aaron posters at the game that had a picture of he and Ruth and room at the bottom to keep track of each game, the opposing pitcher and if he homered. I put it up above my bed that same night and yes, I was watching when Aaron broke the record with a long home run off the Dodgers' Al Downing in April of 1974.
My tradition of going to every opening day stopped when they built the Metrodome. The dome was so new, that everyone wanted to go to the early games and my name didn't get drawn in a lottery held to get tickets. So many years of going to every home opener was stopped by an inflatable baggie. Maybe that's why I never embraced the Dome the way others did. So when they blew it up earlier this week, I certainly didn't shed a tear.
But even though I didn't get to go to that game in 1982, I continued to take opening day off from school or jobs for the next 20+ years and watch games with friends in bars or at their homes. It's a tradition worth keeping even though I'm not the baseball fan I once was. Maybe it's a way to get the younger generation back to the game that is still called "The National Pastime". Make it a national holiday, encourage families to go to the first game of the season by rolling back prices and televising all the games so even kids that aren't in a major league city can fall in love with the game the way I once did, long before cell phones, the internet, and every electronic gadget known to mankind.
Or maybe it's the cranky old man coming out in me wishing for a simpler, safer time.
Either way, please vote yes by putting your name on the petition.