I will be home in just over 18 days, but there is one thing that has been on my mind and it happens to occur on the 19th day…Opening Day. A Berran Family Holiday, a tradition unlike any other.
As far back as I can remember when that cold day in March/April arrived I knew I was going to get out of school (my 1 out of the 180+ days) and start up the grill in the parking lot of Shea Stadium. I didn’t miss many days of school, but it was a given that I was not going to be in on Mets Opening day, almost better than Christmas.
One of my favourite Opening Days was a freeeezing cold day in April 1996 with Rey Ordonez at shortstop and Todd Hundley behind the plate. Mets were down 6-0 but we never leave a game early, but my Dad’s famous line to us in the 7th inning… “if they don’t score in this inning we’re leaving” (4 run rally later and we were still in our seats to witness a 7-6 come from behind victory).
Baseball is a romantic game as Billy Beane said in Moneyball…it truly is. One of my favorite baseball passages comes from a preview of the 2010 Playoffs written by Ken Burns and spoken by Kevin Costner:
“It’s a beautifully designed game, timeless but always changing. It’s a game in which the defense always has the ball, a game in which every player is measured by the ghosts of all that have gone before. For more than 150 years, baseball has been a mirror of the complicated country that gave it birth, from California to the New York Islands, in good times and bad. Through wars, depressions and civil strife it has entertained, us it has inspired us and sometimes it has even transformed us. We pass it down from mothers to sons, fathers to daughters, as every generation invests itself in the sweet hope of spring time, and endures the pain and realities of fall. It’s essential dimensions never change, yet nothing ever happens the same way – twice. It’s a game in which the person scores, not the ball. Where the objective always is to come home. Home, where no one asks where u come from or who you voted for. Home where all season long we congregate to cheer, and plead, laugh and cry in the magnificent cathedrals of the game. Home – where every October baseball’s greatest stars do battle. Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity and the freedom from times constraints than does our national pastime. It is the place we always come back to. Home.”
Yes, Shea Stadium was home…and hopefully one day I will look at Citifield the same…this year the Holiday is April 5th, and I will be there once again.