If you are from Cincinnati, sports fan or not, there are two words that come once a year, that heighten your senses more than any other spoken words. Opening Day.
Opening day in Cincinnati is the most celebrated local tradition for this area, and Monday wasn’t anything different.
Even with Carl Lindner refusing to spend money on the team, and the superstar (Ken Griffey Jr.) out of the lineup, the atmosphere and anticipation around the city was optimistic. The fans weren’t necessarily optimistic about the upcoming season, they were more optimistic about the day.
The day brings a sign of the summer to the city. It tells us that we don’t have to worry about old-man winter breathing down our necks for another six months. It gives us thoughts of a new beginning with the Reds still in contention anything can be possible, right?
Barring a miracle not seen since the 1984 winter olympics, the Reds are not going to finish in first place in the Central Division this season. Playing in one of the toughest divisions in baseball they would be lucky to win 80 games.
However on opening day, baseball is Cincinnati. No other city has such a celebrated season opener. In no other city is it overlooked if a student doesn’t show up for school on opening day. If it wasn’t overlooked, there would be many a sad faced kid sitting in detention Tuesday afternoon.
For Cincinnati, opening day symbolizes a great tradition of baseball that started with the first ever professional team in 1869. It symbolizes the tradition of great players such as Rose, Morgan, Bench, Kluzewski, Lombardi, Larkin and Perez. It symbolizes the great tradition of Cincinnati being a baseball town.
While St. Louis, Boston, Chicago and New York may get more attention as being good baseball towns now-a-days, Cincinnati is the original.
It starts with a parade where businesses, politicians, boy scout groups and police agencies all take part in. Every year it starts from Findlay Market in downtown and winds its way through the streets of Cincinnati, eventually making its way to the ballpark. It’s as much a tradition as the game itself, maybe even more so.
Parents, who should be at work and kids who should be at school, begin lining the streets at 6 a.m. in order to witness the parade. Why? Because that’s what generations of their families have done for years.
Maybe the tradition isn’t fully realized untill the Reds start running the names of people who have been to consecutive opening days in their lifetimes.
This process takes about two and a half innings and contains names of people who have been to games from ten consecutive years, to 54 consecutive years.
54 consecutive years of making time to go to a game! For what….opening day in Cincinnati of course.