Happy Opening Day, you marvelous Reds fans. Although there’s been a lot of hair-tearing and anger over the various opening day shenanigans that MLB has foisted on us in the last few years, it’s worth noting that no matter where or when the first game of the season is, Opening Day is the day of the Reds’ first game. No matter whether you’re playing in Tokyo, Miami, or Mars, you’re not playing Opening Day unless you’re in Cincinnati.
To remind us of our proud legacy, I’ve dug up this amazing article from the SI vault, written by James Maxwell for Sports Illustrated in April 1960. It’s definitely worth a read, citing fun facts, like the 4,000 temporary seats in the outfield for opening day, that the Reds anticipated selling 30,000 beers during the game, and the fact that local courts and local high schools both closed at noon. But the best part is the opening paragraph, which sums up (in lovely prose) exactly what Opening Day in Cincinnati is about.
“Opening day engenders the same intense, passionate interest and rich sentimentality in Cincinnati as the Kentucky Derby does in Louisville. Admittedly, certain out-of-town cynics, who follow the National League pennant race with overly dispassionate eyes, have referred to Cincinnati’s annual renascence of hope as a form of self-hypnosis, similar to that practiced by Indian fire walkers. This viewpoint, however, could only be held by someone with the soul of a statistician and is, therefore, unworthy of consideration.
To be in Cincinnati in the weeks just before the first baseball game of the season is to regain belief in the resiliency of man. This is the time of reborn faith, when all previous disappointments and frustrations are forgotten and confidence in the future gleams with pristine beauty. For Cincinnatians, Opening Day is the unfailingly effective spring tonic for the weary spirit.”