It’s here. The Home Opener. Every year since 2002, my father and I take off for the hour drive for a tradition that I have come to cherish. It is something that we both look forward to, no matter the weather, the team or what else we have to do that day. During the first few years, another plus to going to the Home Opener meant missing school that day. I felt so cool, getting to miss school to go watch a baseball game with my dad.
I will never forget my first Home Opener. The pre-game festivities, the sellout crowd, the excitement of a brand new season filled with new hope. I was 8 years old, and the Indians played the Minnesota Twins. Our seats were by the Twins dugout, and I got an autograph from outfielder Jacque Jones.
Every year seems to bring a new and more unique experience. Like the year we decided to try to park downtown. By the time my dad found a parking spot, the stadium was tiny. We ended up walking for about two miles to get to the stadium and missed the first two innings. I wasn’t mad though, because it was another event that made this tradition even more special. There was 2007, where it was freezing cold and lake effect snow storms hit Jacobs Field all day. I can say I was at “Snowpening Day”. Paul Byrd pitched a no-hitter into the 5th inning, only to have the game called, one strike away from being able to call it a complete game. Just last year the home opener was a 16 inning battle that lasted five hours.
Something about home openers in Cleveland makes them different from other cities. Cleveland is a city of passionate fans. Fans that always bring new hope for their teams. When the first games on our field are played in the beginning of April, the feeling seems appropriate. Everyone comes to the stadium in hopes of being apart of something special, and while it usually doesn’t end the way everyone wants, the next April comes around and everyone is together again, bringing with them a new hope.
No matter what happens in our lives, whether it is me going to college, or just us getting older, my dad and I will always have this tradition that can never be taken away. It is something I will never forget, and I am very grateful for having a dad to share the experience with. The time will come for me to have a family of my own. I can’t wait for that time when I get to sit down at The Jake with my son or daughter on one side, and my dad on the other, bringing our new hope to the Home Opener rooting on our Tribe.