Rambling on About My Glory Days – If Only Every Day Could Have Been Opening Day
Wondering what you would do in this situation? Within a couple of hours I had two calls from friends. “Jack I have a ticket for you for the Monday White Sox/Indians opener,” and “Jack, I have a ticket for you for the Monday night final four basketball game.” No brainer for me – baseball any day of the week; although, I may have passed up a once in a lifetime opportunity. Of course, if it was going to be the usual 32 degrees in Chicago for the opener I may have wavered some and if it gets rained out, I will kick myself. Like most of you baseball nuts like me, there is a special place in my heart for opening day.
My reasons are the same as yours I am sure, but with one exception. Of course, having the opportunity to be the starting second baseman for three major league baseball opening days was special enough. Even more momentous for me was that those opening days were the only games I remember playing at the big league level where I was not nervous. For some reason, I felt very confident and at peace on opening days that I never felt for the remainder of the seasons’ games.
I am sure a sports psychologist would probably know the reason for this. I would guess it was because of a few factors including:
1. Relief that I made the team and the starting line-up
2. Every player and team starts out with the same equal statistics (all zeros),
3. The likelihood of fans booing on opening day or of being benched on one game’s performance was pretty minute.
Whatever, that is the reason I am so fond of opening day in major league baseball. For a player (me) who had trouble coming to grips with the fact that I was playing with the best players in the world, opening day was all fun with no worries. Of course, I say no worries when the only thing I (we) could not prepare for occurred on my very first opening day. All off-season and spring, players prepare for pitchers who throw upwards of 90 miles an hour and for off the table curve balls, splitters and change-ups.
What did we get in my first opening day? None other than Charlie Hough and a 70 mph knuckleball was all. For those of you who have never faced a knuckleball of that caliber, trying to hit a knuckleball, let alone even describing what it is like, is an impossible task. Not only is hitting it difficult but facing a good knuckleball can put you in a slump very quickly. Opening day that year (1982) did not go well as we lost to Charlie, but it was opening day and all was right with the world.
If only every day could have been opening day for me.
Former major leaguer Jack Perconte is the author of The Making of a Hitter(http://jackperconte.com) and has a baseball instruction blog that can be found at www.baseballcoachingtips.net. He has recently published his second book Raising an Athlete:” How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport