It’s that wonderful time of year again. No matter what team you prefer, you can be optimistic about the season ahead. No matter what moves your team made in the off season, it’s Opening Day and everyone is tied for first place. Here in the Bronx though, we know something that others don’t realize. No matter what moves your team made and no matter what “Sports Illustrated” says, this is our house and this is our time. Opening Day in the Bronx marks the beginning of a new pursuit for another championship. That’s because as far as we are concerned, the World Series has a home, and it’s home is on 161st Street and River Avenue. Welcome to the Bronx, where Opening Day might as well be a holiday.
Yankee Baseball is deeply rooted in the Bronx. The Yankee’s began their storied history with a brief stint as the Baltimore Orioles. They were formed in 1901 as one of the American League’s original eight teams. The organization moved to New York shortly after, in 1903. In upper Manhattan’s Hilltop Park, they played as the Highlanders until 1913 when the team’s official name was changed to the Yankees. In 1923, the Yankees moved directly across the Harlem River into the Bronx. Yankee Stadium was opened and there it stayed until 2008 when its heir was built. Bronx natives as well as other Yankee fans, have packed the house year after year starting with Opening Day on April 18, 1923. Not much has changed in that regard since that day. Yankee fans are among the most loyal fans in baseball. Despite the traditional weekday scheduling, Opening Day in the Bronx promises to be a max capacity event.
If you are a Yankee fan then you know what I’m talking about. It’s that day of the year when the kids get to play hooky from school while the adults play hooky from work. It’s a day for tradition, and we as Yankee fans know a thing or two about tradition. Every year, my brother, my friends and I get bleacher seats for the home opener. We all take the day off and wake up early. We meet at my house for breakfast and then its onto the train and down to Stan’s. We get to the bar no later than 9:30am because after all, we are celebrating our holiday. Stan’s is a haven for Yankee die hards, especially on this particular day. Everyone is there for the same reasons; eat, drink and be Yankee fans.
I don’t know if you have been to other stadiums but I have. Baseball really is an amazing game no matter where it’s played, but it just has this special aura in the Bronx. It belongs here. Even with a new $1.3 billion mammoth of a stadium, Opening Day still feels special. We have the only perfect game ever thrown in the World Series, we’ve got Mr. October and Mr. November, and we started standing on two strikes. We’ve blown ‘em away and we’ve walked ‘em off. We have pulled off upsets and we have swept opponents aside on the way to 27 World Championships, and all that starts with Opening Day. This year has the makings of an interesting season. Everyone seems to be underestimating our Bombers. Labeling this team as underdogs is a crucial mistake and they have everything it takes to make teams pay.
Tradition means everything to us fans. It’s a way of starting off the season on the right foot. After all, if we break tradition we may jinx our beloved Yankees. Lets keep the traditions going and lets enjoy another beautiful Yankee game. We deserve it because we have the greatest team in the world and we are the greatest fans in the world. It’s time we do our pre-game rituals and then head to the stadium. Scan your ticket, grab a beer, find your seat and quiet down because role call is about to begin. It’s Opening Day, and all is right in the Bronx.
So come that special morning, you will find me at Stan’s bright and early. That’s our tradition. What’s yours?