Four times I have attended baseball’s opening day in Ohio. The first time I was in Cleveland in that mammoth cave called Municipal Stadium which seated something like 80,000 people. Usually, when the Indians played in the 1980s that meant three thousand fans and 77,000 empty seats. Except for opening day when the place was always a near sell out–but not the day I went.
The day I went it was snowing and I wore a parka. Instead of beer I drank hot chocolate and the place was a frozen ghost town. It snowed most of the game. Many of the three hundred or so fans crowded into the sliver of sunlight in the upper deck bleachers in search of some warmth. It was miserable.
The first time I went to the Cincinnati Reds’ opening day, I also wore a parka. It rained, snowed and sleeted in the same inning. I don’t remember who they played or what the score was. I only know I froze. And, I drank hot chocolate.
The second time I went to Cincinnati, the weather was great but when the game began the umpire died. At least I had a beer.
Opening day has not been good for me.
Today, I went to the unofficial opening day in Columbus. On this day, the Clippers play the Indians. This is a battle between two minor league teams (have you watched the Indians lately?), but the players on one team get paid like major leaguers. The players on the other team play like major leaguers.
It snowed. And, then it snowed harder. By the middle of the second inning the center fielder could have laid on the warning track and made a snow angel. The wind was passing through my gloves like they were made of straw and my pants were soaked by little ice crystals–part snow, part sleet. The game seemed to be hours old already as the umpire was calling every pitch a ball no matter its location. I think ke kept losing sight of it in the white-out.
At the end of the second inning, a colleague and I adjourned to the covered area to “buy a hot dog” we said. We didn’t care if they sold hot dogs, pancakes or three week old Taco Bell, the food area was covered and that was all that counted. It was cold there, too, but my pants were no longer getting wet.
I have no idea what happened in that game. It is pleasing to me that I can remember who played. What else I remember is that in the middle of the third inning, the General Manager of the Clippers took the field and announced the game was being canceled because the field was unsafe and fans could exchange their ticket for one good at any game this season. At this point everyone was so cold that he could have charged us to leave the stadium and we would have been just as happy.
Another exciting opening day in Ohio is over. I will be there next year, too, with the hot chocolate.