WPCNR Press Box. April 3, 2017:
They’re getting ready at CitiField. Today the Metropolitans play their Opening Day Game in Queens. In the honor of Opening Day, WPCNR brings back this original celebration I wrote about why Opening Day is the best day of the year
OPENING DAY is better than Christmas Day,
When you look out and know they’ll play,
Dreary gray or brilliant spring sunray
Opening Day means The Big Show is back today.
Decades past, Opening Day for fanatics starved,
Eager for sharp crack of ash on horsehide carved;
Pennants snapping in northwest winds
Top ramparts of inviting walls arches and sculpted friezes wistfully escarped.
Fans lucky to get away with ducats
Marvel at flannels sharp whites pristeen,
To play in the warm zephyrs in NY blazened caps,
Dashing specks of white warmup on the greenest green.
Motor cars pant in traffic jams on the Deegan,
Down Yawkey Way, on 35th and Shields or Waveland’s jam.
The first glimpse of storied Park,
The place where ball is played, where ghosts of Ted, Babe, Duke
Mel, Spahnie, Whitey, Mickey, Willie, Yaz, Minnie and Sandy lark.
Pay a fortune to park, pass stogie smoking old men
at the same gates for a hundred years,
Now out into the street
You go, aroma of roasting chestnuts, pungent cigars sweet,
Cries of “scorecard heah” “programs,heah” shout out, neath light towers to heaven.
Fans in cap and uniform, little boys and girls gawk in awe hoping to make the Anthem
Never seeing such sheer walls, topped with the legend “GameToday 1:30 PM.”
Clutching slim cardboard tix to Section 14 Upper Deck up to the turnstiles
Festooned with souvenirs more dear as diamonds, beyond, the lure of endless aisles.
Into press of crowd, grizzled usher,
RIPS YOUR TICKET.
Turnstile turns, clicks, and into the cathedral of ball you go
Into the rotunda greeted with magic signs dazzling the senses —
UPPER LEVELS SECTIONS 1 to 39, 2 to 40
Hawkers shout –Voices of Flatbush — colorful books in hand
“Yearbook heah,” “Dodger Yearbook here,” “Hot dog, heah,”
Assail ears! Up ramps you climb to the sign “NEXT HOMESTAND”
Walking the catwalk,sliver of blue is first look of the magic sphere
Into the sunlight splaying the vast rake of the mighty stand.
Below are baseball knights of the diamond in white hues
Cavorting, snapping throws across immaculate red clay
As majestic fungo bats — CRACK! send white spheres soaring to filling bleachers a mile away,
Bunting flutter from the deck rails red, white and true blues.
Old Glory furls on highest pole in centerfield
Colorful signage deliver the manly flavor of the only real game,
GILLETTE To Look Sharp, The Red Sox use Lifeboy, Schaefer It’s A Hit
Hey, Neighbor Have a Gansett, White Owl Cigars, Hit Sign Win Suit
From old friendly walls, to Gladys Gooding on the organ
Comfy old green scoreboard display
Today’s games in the bigs BETTER THAN CNN
CHI CLE BOS DET, CHI STL, NY WAS make you king for a day.
Two Bits for a scorecard, usher wipes your seat, ballpark fills your heart.
Penciling lineup 422B, 1 SS, 14 1B, 4 CF, 39 C, 6 RF, 23 LF 19 3B 36 P
Smell of beer, peanuts and pretzels.
Nippy air, warm rays sink into face feels nice,
Starters wheel,deal, kicking high on sidelines fueling expectancy
Men in blue, arms folded solemnly conduct the home plate regimen
Casey, Ralph , Walter, Joe and Sparky exchange lineup cards and knowing
Ground rules by heart, go over them for ritual’s sake.
Announcer entones “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
“Welcome to Yankee Stadium. Please rise for the playing of our national anthem,”
Nancy Faust at organ in Comisky of yore, Note by note renders baseball’s theme song
Rising in the breeze, uniting do-rag and ball cap,
Fedora, ponytail and bouffant in the spirit of the great game.
Grass is never greener on opening days
Strikes are louder, long drives electrify in alleys
Beers with whiter than white high creamy heads, Taste crisp cold mellow best brew all year
Smashes laser through short and in the gap in raucous rallies
Magicians without wands start 6-4-3s,
Backhand sure hits losing their caps
“Oh what a play’s” crackle on WGN with “CUBS WIN!”‘S
Jack and Mel, Vince, Red, Curt and Murph are back at the mikes turning mundane days
Into joy with a ninth inning elixir and “happy recaps”
Thunderous ROAR accolades the 2-out winner again creating big kids’ grins.