Why is opening day (and, thus, the collecting of opening day tickets) so important to a baseball memorabilia collector? From the last out of the World Series to the first pitch in ball parks across North America six months later, a dark pall falls over the baseball fanatic. Opening Day signifies the return of the green, an end to hibernation and the unkindest wait of all.
Throughout the winter and early spring, trade talks, statistics, and performance records barely make a dent in the baseball fanatic's mind. Spring training functions as a kind of cosmic alarm clock's snooze button: The sleepy soul opens one lazy eye before slipping back into a hazy hiatus yielding semi-conscious relief.
On Opening Day, all heaven breaks loose. The beautifully manicured field of green, the mathematical precision of baselines and pitcher's mound, the mystical familiarity of the only game in town - all produce a civilized sight for sore eyes. Ecstasy erupts.
To get a fix of the green, the addict runs, walks, shuffles, or creeps along to the nearest ballpark on Opening Day. Inclement weather? This means nothing to the true fan on the lam. No armchair spectators these. Only the view from the favorite section, the sweet smells from the favorite concession, the inspired pre-game small talk with surrounding friends, neighbors, and strangers engenders the necessary enraptured response. Gold, diamonds, or preferred shares of stock may be well and good; but, if you ain't got a ticket stub in your hand at 1:35 p.m. on Opening Day, you ain't got diddly squat.
No phrase in sports carries as much weight as Opening Day. Hockey, basketball, football, curling, tennis, lacrosse - each offers its own brand of season opener; but, none boasts the magic or the pageantry of baseball's Opening Day. Since the first professional Opening Day in 1876, the ritual has unfolded according to an invisible plan. The first pitch generally yields to nine engrossing innings and the sadly mistaken belief it will go on forever.
So, with the advent of Opening Day, the world indeed rights itself. The great design slides into place. Optimism rides high. Spirits soar. With nearly 130 years of history, the start of each pro season signals a new beginning with the best of all possible players in the best of all possible worlds. Injuries, strikes, and win-loss records cease to exist. The slates of annual stats are pristine clean.
Opening Day's the time to sink your eyes into restful green, your teeth into the season's first dog, and your hard-earned bucks into ensuring you're there to absorb the sing-song cries of the concessionaires, the hiss-boom blahs of the losers, the kill-the-ump trumpeters already in full blast. It's time to dust off your sneakers and lazily reflect upon past victories while anticipating future miracles. And yes, most assuredly, it's truly the time to bask in the glory of now.