Opening Day in baseball has lost its national significance, but in Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds, there is no greater day of civic pride. On Opening Day, the City shows its love for Baseball and Cincinnati, for family and tradition, for beer and brats. We have feelings about Opening Day.
Cincinnati is the home of the oldest professional baseball team (born in 1881) and we’re a bit cranky about two baseball things. 1) Opening Day for baseball begins when the Reds pitcher throws out the first pitch no matter how many games ESPN has aired on the previous day, and 2) Pete Rose should be in Cooperstown. [Alas, another time for my Free Pete Rant.]
Traditionally, to honor the Reds as the oldest team, each new baseball season would start only after the Reds started playing. Money, in the form of ESPN’s contract with Baseball, pushed Opening Day to whatever day and whatever team “the suits” thought could generate the most ad revenue.
Cincinnati isn’t having any of that. The Reds are the only team to start every season with a home game and we treat our opening with reverence. Baseball season starts when the first pitch is thrown and Hall of Fame announcer Marty Brennaman on the Red Radio Network tells us the game is underway.
Real Opening Day is an unofficial City holiday where the whole town is a baseball fan for one day. Kids skip school and adults skip work. People are ridiculously happy. The crowd’s spirit remains infectiously positive even while even the team’s owner says the team is in yet another “re-building year.” We already know. Opening Day is more than the season on the horizon, it also says we all made it another year to celebrate together.
The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, now in its 98th year, is the longest and best parade in the city. One year it was still going on when the game started. There are food and drink specials all over town where you can find plenty of brats, metts, and cheese coneys. And beer. Local craft breweries give us Rounding Third, an IPA from Madtree Brewery, and Hustle a Rye beer from Rhinegeist Brewery. P.S. Hustle, from Pete Rose’s nickname “Charlie Hustle”…we’re obsessed.
People are happy to get their Reds gear out of the closet and wear jerseys from players new and old. A sea of Red washes over the parade route and the game.
We lost our 2017 opener despite a 9th inning home run that brought us within one run of extra innings. We cheered our team thoughout the game, tried to catch on to the new players’ names, and tried some new ballpark food. The cloudy weather and brief sprinkle of rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm. The crowd left knowing no matter what happens this season on the field this year, we’ll be back for Opening Day next year.