On April 2 this year, I was supposed to do the same thing I’ve done for most of my life. Then the coronavirus happened, fans were not allowed into stands, and my plans shifted. In my household, and I imagine many Cards fans’ households, we view Opening Day as a national holiday. And like all national holidays, we have developed traditions that we more or less stick to every year that we can.
One of those traditions is that I attend Opening Day with my mom. Until writing this, I never considered that this is a bit strange. I say it’s a bit strange, because my dad is a bigger baseball fan than my mom. Follows the Cardinals more intently throughout the season too. And as for the latter point, it’s not particularly close. But I don’t get to the home opener with my dad, and a large reason why is tradition.
But it didn’t start as tradition. It had to start somewhere. Before I was ever born, before my parents ever met, my grandpa and grandma own a few restaurants called Ron & Shirley’s. If you’re old enough, you’ve probably been there. My grandpa owned season tickets. Around the time I was born, Ron and Shirley got divorced and the restaurants went under. My grandpa and mom ended up forming their own business, and my grandpa got remarried at some point in the mid-1990s.
So the two recently married couples ended up splitting season tickets at some point in the 1990s. My grandparents got two seats, my parents got two seats. Now, what does this have to do with Opening Day? Well it just so happens that on Opening Day, it’s fairly easy for owners of a business to skip out on work for one day and watch a baseball game. Not so easy for my dad.
So at some point, and I’m going to attempt to guess the first time, I was brought into the fold. I was an obvious choice, except for the pesky “going to school” part. I was the oldest. My parents like to say that I taught myself to read by reading the Cardinals media guide (and apparently, my friend’s mom walked in on me teaching my two friends how to read using it too back in the day). I collected baseball cards. My sister wasn’t much of a fan and my brother was probably still a baby.
So I got a permission to leave school early - school literally doesn’t bat an eye at a student leaving school early for Opening Day in St. Louis at least. I believe my first Opening Day was 2000, because I remember very distinctly about Jim Edmonds being new and exciting. Darryl Kile was also new and exciting, but I’ll be honest: I would have had no idea he pitched that day if I didn’t just look it up. Edmonds sticks out in my mind for whatever reason.
Anyway this process continued for a few years, because nothing really changed. I was still the obvious pick as my sister never seriously got into baseball and my brother remained very young. By the time it could have hypothetically been a competition, suddenly, it’s a tradition! Me and my mom have to go together, because well we’ve been doing it all this time. So I went to every home opener from 2nd grade until I believe my senior year of high school.
When the new Busch Stadium replaced the old, the four tickets turned into two tickets, so my parents now had every other game. And by the time I was about ready to enter college, it made sense to stop getting season tickets. I mean money was one thing, but also I was going to a lot of games and with college I suddenly couldn’t go to a lot of them, and my siblings never really picked up the slack on going to games. So they got dropped, and I didn’t attend Opening Day for the first time in a long time at the end of my freshman year in college.
I’m pretty sure we specifically bought tickets to Opening Day at some point during my college run, but I think it was for only one year. And when I got home from college, the new tradition became buying an Opening Day ticket for me for Christmas. Which is pretty much the best Christmas present ever. And me and my mom have gone together, even though my dad has since retired, since I got home from college.
But not this year. This year... I will still be spending Opening Day with my mom. Also my dad. They’re making a whole day out of it. Trying to preserve that national holiday spirit. We got burgers, nachos, shell peanuts planned for Friday. My aunt and uncle will also be coming - for the last couple years, they’ve gone to Opening Day with us, but again strangely not my dad. I don’t know why he’s cool with this.
So even though the pandemic is happening and I can’t go to the game and experience the pregame festivities, I’ll essentially be doing the same thing I would be doing anyway on Friday. Watching the game, eating too many shell peanuts, drinking. And then having to get up early to go to work the next day (I work Saturday morning). Aside from actually attending the game, it’s pretty much exactly the same plan as a normal year.
So, the day before Opening Day, and the morning before Opening Night in all of baseball, I ask all of you: what are your plans on Opening Day? Are they drastically different than a normal year? Do you even plan to watch it or is this season too weird for you and you’re just not in the mood for baseball? And do guys have a tradition that you follow, if you can, for Opening Days?