You know it’s spring when Little League has its opening day. Lush green fields groomed by the director and his crew welcome hundreds of youngsters dressed in brightly colored uniforms.

Opening day is a place where you can do nothing and have a great time doing it. Think about it; when was the last time you laughed till you cried at a pile of 2-foot-tall munchkins moving in unison as they chase a ball rolling at a snail’s pace?

And how about the little outfielders that pass the time by wearing their glove as a facemask or performing cartwheels across the grass? Then there’s the first baseman who insists on having a conversation with every runner that waits his turn to take off for the next base. I’d love to hear the conversations. “Hey, where’d you get those cleats? They’re fresh! I need to let my mom know. Do they come in different colors? Do your parents still make you take a nap?”

As opening day progresses you are introduced to older kids. This is when things start to get more serious. While waiting their turn to bat, these players keep busy on the bench. There’s always the game of seeing who can blow the biggest bubble or how  far they can stick your nose through the dugout fencing.

The big kids are there to get the job done. It’s exciting to watch the pitcher warm up and the catcher adjusting his leg guards and chest protector before setting up behind the plate. The batters are as equally driven, hovering over the plate while tapping the rubber with his bat in a ritualistic jester “I’m here, lets do this”.

Of course opening day wouldn’t be complete without hotdogs. I have to say; our local recreation center has the best hotdogs and chili. Their nachos aren’t too bad either. But I believe the most important reason to mark opening day on your calendar is to be a part of the fellowship. Perfect strangers sitting side by side, laughing, and on occasion cringing, but always rooting for their team, is what it’s all about.

As the 1908 Tin Pan Alley song goes “Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd; Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the home team, If they don’t win, it’s a shame. For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, at the old ball game.”

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