There is something magical about Opening Day.
Matter-of-factly, it is the start of the baseball season. But poetically it is so much more. Opening Day is about fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s about pace and rhythm. It’s about old-school traditions with a little bit of attitude. It’s about connecting with the past, appreciating the present and opening up possibilities for the future.
The memories of my grandparents come flooding back around baseball. My grandfather taught me how to keep score, God bless his patient heart. He loved statistics and saw the beauty (and frustrations) of the game, often, through the numbers. My grandmother told stories about going to old Offerman Stadium with her older brothers to collect errant foul balls from batting practice. Turn them in at the gate and you could get in for free. For her, baseball was poetry and memories of the people, places and times that were closest to her heart.
I feel extraordinarily lucky that my baseball education came from these two people. Classes took place mostly on their porch during summer afternoons while listening to the Buffalo Bisons games on the radio, sipping a bottle of pop through a straw (because otherwise you might fall back and split your head open. For all the poetry this still was my Polish grandmother after all).
Today is Opening Day for the Bisons and in my job as a sports reporter, I’ll be working the game. Along with my newspaper colleagues, I’ll be Tweeting and blogging and writing stories about the team, the players, the new affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays. I’ll be setting the stage for another season of professional baseball in Buffalo while telling the stories of the team’s quest to win and the players’ hopeful journeys to a Major League Baseball career.
But part of me will be remembering my grandparents and those summer afternoons. You can call it nostalgia, but to me, it’s not about a wanting for the past. Rather, it’s about connecting to that wonderful sense of possibility I had as an 8-year-old, when summer vacation felt endless and baseball felt magical. That possibility and wonder and excitement still lives inside of me. And Opening Day, well, gives me the perfect opportunity to start fresh. Again. And again.