A pitch for Opening Day

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Making Sense by Michael Reagan

It’s a great day for America – or at least it should be.

It’s Thursday, April 7. Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.

From Los Angeles to St. Louis to Washington, D.C., 14 teams are kicking off their regular season, and by the weekend all 30 teams will be in action.

Baseball in 2022 isn’t what it used to be – but these days, what is?

In my growing-up days in the 1950s, and decades before that in my dad’s growing-up days, the whole country couldn’t wait for baseball season to start, and Opening Day was treated like an unofficial national holiday.

In nearly two dozen major league cities kids skipped school and adults ducked out early from work so they could go to the home opener, which was usually an afternoon game.

In those days, before the NFL and NBA became wealthy global brands, baseball was our undisputed national pastime.

It was the pro sport everyone in the country religiously followed for six months in the pages of the newspapers and on radio and eventually TV.

Its greatest stars – Ruth, Williams, Robinson, Mays, Mantle and a dozen others – were genuine American superheroes.

With all the tragic events going on in the world today, it would make a lot of sense for Americans to start celebrating Opening Day the way we used to.

It’d be a good excuse to turn off our TVs and smartphones and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the baseball park – even if it’s a dome.

Grab a hot dog and a $12 beer and have some fun. Root for your favorite team. Yell at the umps – before they’re replaced by robots.

If you can’t attend in person, watch from your living room.

Either way, celebrating Opening Day for a few hours will help you forget the war in Ukraine, the murders in Chicago and the nonstop political stupidity coming out of Washington and the liberal media.

This year the National League will allow designated hitters for pitchers for the first time and “ghost runners” will be placed at second base in the 10th inning if games go into extra innings.

I don’t know what my father would think of using ghost runners, but baseball played an important part in his path to the White House.

He grew up a Chicago Cubs fan in Illinois and it was through his announcing of Cubs games on radio in the mid 1930s that he eventually found his way to Hollywood.

When my father announced the Cubs games for station WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, he actually re-created the action for radio listeners by reading a ticker tape wired to him from the ballfield.

Half a century later, if you were lucky enough to sit next to him at a state dinner in the White House and wanted to talk about politics, it would never happen.

He’d rather talk to you about baseball and how he used to announce those Cubs games on radio.

He also might tell you about what happened in the middle of an inning when second baseman Tony Lazerri came up to bat and Dizzy Dean of the Cards was pitching.

As my dad was telling the audience “Dean winds up and …” the ticker tape went dead.

My dad had Lazerri foul off eight straight pitches until the ticker came back to life.

It turned out that Lazerri actually fouled out on the first pitch, but thousands of radio listeners were left thinking it was the longest at bat in baseball history.

My dad really loved baseball and I bet he’d agree with me that Opening Day is a special American “holiday” that deserves to be fully celebrated.

After all, your home team may be terrible, but there’s only one Opening Day a year. Don’t let it pass.

Copyright 2022 Michael Reagan, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, is an author, speaker and president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation. Send comments to [email protected] and follow @reaganworld on Twitter.