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Opening Day Ain’t What it Used to Be

Opening Day Ain’t What it Used to Be
Opening Day 2017 at Yankee Stadium. Photo: Wendell Cruz, USA TODAY Sports

By Evan Weiner |

In a distant time, not so long ago, the mere mention of Opening Day was all that was needed. It was understood that Opening Day meant baseball, the time of year where hope springs eternal and that the long winter was over. Summer was just around the corner.

In 2018, Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is just another day on the calendar. Once upon a time, the Cincinnati Reds played the first game of the season and the game came complete with a parade then there was the Presidential opener in Washington. Cincinnati will play a home game on Opening Day but so will 14 other teams. The Reds’ opener isn’t a special event anymore. The parade takes place on April 2 after a number of games have been played.

In 1910, President William Howard Taft threw the first pitch of the American League season prior to a Philadelphia Athletics-Washington Nationals game at the Nationals stadium in the nation’s capital. For six decades the President almost annually tossed the first pitch of the American League season in Washington but that ended in 1969 with Richard Nixon’s toss, two years prior to the Washington Senators relocation to Arlington, Texas.

Since the return of Major League Baseball to Washington in 2005, there have been just three Presidential openers. Taft might have started another tradition although the exact origin of the seventh inning stretch is in dispute. Taft, who weighed more than 300 pounds was sitting in a small seat and got up between the top half and bottom half of the seventh inning to stretch out during that April 14, 1910 game. Attendees saw Taft and followed suit. President Taft a started a tradition that might have begun in the 19th century in Taft’s home state of Ohio at a Cincinnati Red Stockings games. Presidents have had an impact on baseball.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.


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