When I am asked to read a passage at a book signing, guess what I turn to?

Opening Day: As good as it gets

By Stew Menke

Nowhere but here has there been a longer continuous stretch of opening days for any baseball club in the same city. Before electricity and automobiles, the game of baseball was played by your favorite hometown club at ‘Recreation Park’. Four ballparks later, a lot has changed in those years, but some things are changeless. Green grass mowed to perfection, chalk lines crisp and clear map out the field. The cold rains of November followed by the harsh winter snow and sleet strip away all the smells of stale beer and grease from bleachers and life at the park begins anew. Everybody starts out at the same place and the possibilities are endless.

Even Cubs fans think they have a chance on Opening Day. For on this day, we don’t talk about free agency, multi-year, mega-million dollar contracts, steroid testing or revenue-sharing. There is a “Field of Dreams” mystique to the day where the connection goes back through over a century of players and uniform styles and odd-shaped leather gloves. That same connection runs through generations of Philadelphians that
have made the Phillies family part of their family. Radio and TV moved the game into living room parlors on Easter Sunday or in backyards during Holiday barbeques or fireworks. No decent block party would survive without scores being passed around like squares of Aunt Mae’s tomato pie.

Tell me, does a Father’s day not pass for persons of a certain age recounting where they were when Bunning was perfect against those upstart Metropolitans?

Added together, none of those days carry the significance of Opening Day. The slate is clean, The Jubilee year begins, The Phanatic hasn’t aged a day, the hot dogs are delicious (maybe even kosher) and all is right with the world. Hope springs eternal.

So we throw caution to the wind and root for our home team just as our great grandparents did one score after Lincoln’s train ride to Gettysburg. Let the season begin.


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