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America’s Pastime: Opening Day for Baseball

Opening Day

baseballBoy, how I missed baseball. Sure, I enjoy watching football (especially Tom Brady and the New England Patriots), basketball, and a few other sports, but let’s be real, there is no sport that compares to baseball.

It seems like a century has passed since the Red Sox took down the Cardinals in the 2013 World Series. I love watching ESPN’s Sports Center but it does lose its luster sans baseball highlights and Web Gems. The only things that kept me interested in sports this winter was the Red Sox’ championship. I know Boston fans were waiting with bated breath for spring training to begin and for the impending regular season to commence. I felt the same way too. Hey, I’m proud to say I’m among the millions of passionate BoSox fans worldwide!

I would be hard pressed to continue without letting you know that I join my fellow Bostonians in their belligerence of the dreaded Yankees (better known as the evil empire). I have a collection of every authentic Major League cap — except for one. Yeah, you guessed it, a Yankees cap. You couldn’t catch me dead adorned in one. Never, never, never!  (I sort of digressed a bit there didn’t I?)

Anyway, here is my take on the grandest opening day in all of sports: Baseball’s Opening Day. First off, I find it kind of funny and a bit absurd that everyone makes such a big deal over it. After all, win or lose, there are still 161 games left on the board. Yet, Opening Day, from the shores of Falmouth to Oxnard, Little League to the “Bigs”, it is most certainly and undeniably a big time event, and most surely a great excuse to play hooky from school and from work. Opening Day in the Big Leagues makes me yearn to be in Boston again. It is where I was born and in my heart where I never left. It is where I spent the first three and a half years of my life — my wonder years if you will. It is where all my relatives reside. It is where the Boston Red Sox play. My favorite team. The team my parents and their parents root for religiously. It is where baseball and the ‘Sox are bigger than life itself.

Opening Day for Red Sox fans marks the end of a long, cold, snowy winter. It also signifies the start of spring. The emergence of birds and bees, flowers and green grass, a new beginning, a clean slate, and the hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year that the home team goes all way and wins the World Series.

This passion and obsession with baseball and the Red Sox, such a vital part of my dad’s youth and adulthood, was passed on to me at an early age. It’s why a bat and ball were put in my hands just as I started to walk. I know what you’re thinking. I never had a chance not to beome a baseball fan — well, welcome to my world. But let me tell you a little secret — Major League Baseball does not possess exclusive rights to “Opening Day”. No way.

Opening Day is a ritual and a tradition and a delight for ALL levels of America’s great pastime. Playing baseball year-round in Southern California is where I became the player I am today. I loved the many opening days with my teammates through the years as we awaited our upcoming season with great anticipation and hope. I certainly enjoy watching the Red Sox and I appreciate all the pageantry and majesty in Big League openers, but the real opening day for me is when I’M playing, not watching someone else.

Starting in a Coach Pitch league at the age of five, to playing in high school as a pitcher on the Birmingham High School varsity baseball team and then in college, I will always remember and hold dear all the opening day games I have been fortunate enough to participate in. And my hope and goal is to play in many more opening day games as I move on next year to the collegiate level where I plan to continue to do what I’ve been doing since I was a toddler when my dad placed an old Red Sox souvenir bat in my little hands.

So, to all my fellow ballplayers, male or female, young and old, Big Leagues to Little Leagues, to all who are lucky enough to indulge in the greatest game ever invented — my wish is that this year’s opening day met all your expectations and that there are many more for you in the years to come.

(Editor’s note:  Marti Sementelli is a veteran USA women’s national team pitcher and is considered one of the best female pitchers in the world. She led Team USA to consecutive Bronze Medals in the 2008 and 2010 Women’s World Cup events. She also faced off in the first U.S. high school baseball game  featuring starting varsity female pitchers on Saturday, March 5, 2011 (against USA teammate Ghazaleh Sailors) and she now plays college ball in North Carolina.

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