It’s that time of year. Our family—along with most of Kansas City—is hyped and ready for the first cry of “Play ball!” as our Royals take the field for the home opener.
With a schedule of 162 regular season games, not a single one compares with the excitement of that first game, that first pitch.
Starting with the camaraderie in the parking lot as fans decked in Royals blue fire up their grills and share the contents of their coolers, from the pregame ceremony on the most beautiful field in baseball, to the roar of the crowd as our Boys in Blue are introduced and take the field, joining the crowd to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” through the final out in the ninth, there is no way to adequately describe this day!
For the past several years, Opening Day has been even more special for me because attending with our kids, my niece, and her husband has become a beloved family tradition. Our excitement for Opening Day starts building on Christmas Eve when we give tickets to this group of die-hard fans. With the opening of those now-expected gifts in the dead of winter, we begin to look forward to the best part of spring!
You may think that after several years of attending a game to root for the same team with the same people, the routine might begin to get a little mundane, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, I believe just the opposite is true. The familiarity is a big part of the joy. From the tradition-filled baseball game experiences that we all know and love, to the excitement of meeting up with friends and loved ones all around the stadium, this is a routine that feels like magic every year!
You can rest assured, even with a bit of a routine, there are always more than enough surprises to keep us on our toes!
You see, over the years we have experienced games where we sat in the sun with perfect 70-degree weather, purchased sunscreen, and shed layers to keep from baking in the sun, we have crowded into the stadium store to buy coats, blankets, hats, and scarves in an attempt to stay warm as we watched for snowflakes throughout the game, stood under the concourse in soaking wet clothes for a three-hour rain delay, and everything in between.
Before you shake your head and decide we are crazy, think about some of your favorite memories—in many cases, they weren’t when things went exactly as scheduled. In fact, some of the best moments are remembered even more fondly because of the shared experiences that were way outside of your perfectly laid plans.
And it’s just not my family. As surprises pop up through the day—and through the season—they bring an even stronger sense of community for the fans. You see, it is this sense of community that makes being a sports fan more than just wearing a specific color or logo. It’s the focus on something bigger, something beyond ourselves. It’s love of our hometown. It’s a sense of pride in our team, not only for their athletic talents, but for all that they give to our city.
It’s also a common bond with those we love who share our passion. No matter where we are, when we see someone wearing that beautiful shade of blue with the distinctive Royals logo or the offset KC, we immediately feel a connection. And when our loved ones far away need to feel a little closer to home, nothing beats that new shirt from Opening Day to bring them back.
But I’m sure you are wondering, why do we as a family need something as random as a ballgame to strengthen our connection? After all, we share DNA, look very much alike, have common relatives, and even have the same surname.
Believe it or not, as close as our family is, this unique family connection reminds me that we choose to share this time together. We are connected beyond blood and we enjoy each other’s company. As a mom of adult kids, I cherish this intentional time with my kids, niece, and nephew-in-law. It is not lost on me that they can make their own decisions on how they spend their time and with whom. They can decide what is important to them.
This special day, we not only have a great time hanging out, but reconnect with our hometown team, our city, and each other. With one of our kids living across the country, these moments don’t come easy. The effort it takes with jobs, travel, and other commitments to bring us together is a gift in itself.
But the connection doesn’t end that day. With the help of the MLB channel, we can watch games and cheer for our favorite team together from our separate locations.
Each Opening Day comes with its own particular set of circumstances. For instance, this year, we’ll be celebrating virtually again. Each one brings new and different challenges and joys, but I love that no matter what happens, at the end of the day we will have amazing new memories, share a lot of laughs, take some awesome pictures, and be reminded of how very fortunate we are to get this special time with some of our favorite people.
These are truly the days that dreams are made of. Family, friends, and Royals baseball—it just doesn’t get any better!