Today is baseball’s Opening Day. It’s changed a lot since I first started following the sport; back then it was usually on Tuesday and always started in Cincinnati, in honor of the city’s status as the first home of a professional team. Now it’s on Sunday so ESPN can get a big audience, and one of the games will feature the Yankees, because we don’t see the Yankees enough the other 161 games of the year.
(Tonight’s marquee game is Cubs-Cardinals, the National League’s version of Yankees-Red Sox.)
You’ll almost certainly recognize some of the names Tyler Kepner profiles. The slugger is Albert Pujols, who I saw in spring training in 2001 and knew right away he was going to be a star. The hitter is Ichiro Suzuki, a scientist of the strike zone. The pitcher is C.C. Sabathia, the formidable bull. (My wife will be touched to know he’s still saddened by the Indians’ loss in the 2007 ALCS.)
But my favorite is about the broadcaster. It’s Jaime Jarrin, who’s been doing the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcasts since 1959 — yes, almost 60 years. This should be more impressive, but Jarrin had the (mis?)fortune of serving the same team as Vin Scully, whose 67 seasons as the Dodgers’ English-language broadcaster just ended last year. Jarrin is 81 but, if the article is any indication, he’s in no rush to retire.
Anyway, it’s all a wonderful way to start off the blooming of spring — and the arrival of a new baseball season. Besides, if you’re a Braves fan, it’ll be some good reading material as you begin your three-day commute to Finazzle Field.
As Willie Stargell once said, “The man says ‘Play Ball,’ not ‘Work Ball,’ you know.” Thank you, baseball. You can find Kepner’s story here.