Imagine the greatest day of your life. What was it? Wedding day? The birth of one (or all eight) of your kids? Game 6 of the 1986 World Series? Game 4 of the 2004 World Series? We’re talking pure joy and 100% emotion, the kind you feel in your chest; the kind that is so unbelievable, when you experience it your head buzzes like you’re on your fifth shot when all you’ve had to drink today is Sunny Delight. What day was it for you? The greatest day of your life?
This week, 30 Major League baseball teams will be finalizing their rosters for opening day. Many of these teams will add to their roster the surprise 25th man; the man none of us ever heard of six weeks ago. Maybe the man is coming off an incredible six weeks of spring training that can’t be ignored. Or maybe the man chose the right time to be there when somebody else tweaked an oblique or pulled a hamstring. This week, men like that will experience the greatest day of their lives.
This is the time of year to be positive. The weather is turning. Baseball season is about to begin. Fans can hold their heads up on opening day knowing, at least before the first pitch, their team is in a tie for first place. (You hear that Pittsburgh & Kansas City?) In a way, this is the most wonderful time of the year because of that thing we call hope.
For those 25th guys who will be getting their first MLB call ups, they will never forget this time of year. Nor will they forget this time in their lives. “Chad” or “BJ” or “Dustin” or “Jose, you’re coming with us” are words these guys will never forget. They’ll never forget adding their cars to the list of vehicles to be sent up north. They’ll never forget walking through that locker room of veterans and All Stars and idols, knowing they’ll be teammates for real, not just in the fantasy world of spring training. They’ll never forget that phone call to Vancouver or Little Falls or El Tigre, telling their families that they made it, they actually made it. Their families will never forget it too.
Some of you may not understand. How can this be as wonderful as the exchanging of vows or the entry into the world of a new child? Are we really taking into perspective where baseball falls? Is this really the “greatest day” but really not? You know, Jimmy, it’s great but it’s great in terms of occupation and career aspirations. That’s what you mean, right?
No. I’m saying for these guys, this greatest day they are about to experience will truly be the greatest day of their lives for the rest of their lives. Imagine being 25 years old. For the last 19 years, all you’ve done is eat, sleep and think about baseball. It’s not just a passion. It’s an obsession. (Don’t just think U.S. either. Keep in mind the baseball-crazy nations like the Dominican and Venezuela and Japan.) All you ever wanted was to make it to the Majors. All your family ever wanted for you was to make it. And for 19 years you’ve struggled and sweat and starved and now you’ve made it. You’ve accomplished your dream. That’s been your sole life-goal, to make it in the Major Leagues. Even harder is the fact that there are limited openings each year. It’s not just a goal. It’s been an insane gamble. Anybody can get married. Anyone can have a kid. Not every young man can make a living playing baseball.
If a little girl plays wedding with her friends and dreams of her wedding day, can’t a little boy dream of the same? Only it’s not a wedding day, it’s opening day. The white dress has been replaced by the home whites. The cathedral is called Jacobs Field or Dodger Stadium or PNC Park. The visitors still come to see you, only they’re paying. You don’t have to buy them food or issue them invitations or worry about their lodging. They can worry about that themselves. There’s still music. There’s a groom’s & bride’s side, only there are dugouts for home and away. There isn’t just one man presiding over the affair, there are five of them, also dressed in dark clothing for the occasion. There are photographers. There’s video recording the event. This is the dream of millions of little boys. See how understandable it is?
The most wonderful time of the year is upon us. For 30 men in baseball, they will never forget what is about to happen to them. Pretend you’re one of them for a moment and allow yourself to smile. There’s nothing wrong with a dream come true. It happens every year. And that, my friends, is why baseball is the greatest sport on the planet.
Jimmy Scott is probably the greatest pitcher you’ve never heard of. Visit Jimmy Scott’s High & Tight to read more from Jimmy. You’ll also hear a new interview every Monday morning with former MLB players, agents, wives and others; giving new outlooks on this great game we call Baseball. Go there now to hear Jimmy’s latest interviews with Nelson & Alisa Figueroa, Craig Swan and Fred Claire. You can follow Jimmy on Twitter or Facebook.