Ranking the Best Opening Day Traditions in Baseball

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIApril 1, 2013

Ranking the Best Opening Day Traditions in Baseball

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    When it comes to Major League Baseball, tradition is one of the first things that comes to mind.

    America's national pastime has so much history.

    One such history is the various traditions teams have on Opening Day.

    While some may not be as well known as others, all do one thingโ€”get fans excited about their team and the upcoming season.

    Here's a look at the best Opening Day traditions.ย 

7. Raising the Championship Banner

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    This only happens for one team each year, but it is very sweet for home fans.

    Ironically, the San Francisco Giants are on the road to start the year, so there will be no banner raising on Opening Day.

    For the hometown fans, this is a great day, especially if you were fans of the Boston Red Sox after they won the 2004 World Series.

    It's that moment of pride where it is confirmed that your team was the best in baseball.

    This is something MLB needs to remedy next year and beyond. The previous World Series winner should play at home to open the season.

6. Tailgating with Hope

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    We've all seen it. The hope and belief that your team is going to win it all this year.

    It's that belief that our team has the offense, the pitching and the X-factor it's going to take to win the World Series.

    That belief is what gets many through the long winter.

    The movie Fever Pitch best describes the crazies of a fanbase:

    Reporter: Where do the Sox rank in terms of importance in your life?

    Ben: I'd say Red Sox, sex and breathing. I have season tickets to Fenway Park. I haven't missed a game in years. I love the Red Sox. They're gonna win. All the way this year, baby!

    That's the way many fans are when it comes to opening weekend.

    They believe their team has a chance and will go all the way this year.

    Just give it about a month and many will realize that it is not going to happen.

5. Family Holiday

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    We're only kidding ourselves if we say we don't plan our vacations around Opening Day.

    It's a day many will use as their one personal day a year, or call in "sick." The kids will also be home "sick" from school. I think they call it the one-day flu.

    But, what bosses and teachers don't understand is that it's a tradition for many families to go to their teams' opening game.

    It's a time for dads and their kids to bond, and a time for mom to get everyone out of the house for some peace and quiet.

4. Findlay Market Parade

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    Steeped in more than 94 years of tradition, the Findlay Market Parade is all about the history of baseball in Cincinnati.

    The parade features more than 5,000 participants and is the grassroots of Cincinnati.

    You won't find the same grandeur you would see in the Rose Bowl Parade or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, you will find a few floats, high-school marching bands and more than 100,000 people lining the streets.

    It's put on by the shopkeepers in Findlay Market and is something that should be appreciated for its history.

    As the first professional baseball team, the Reds also had the tradition of being the first game on Opening Day. That was until 1989.

3. President Throwing out First Pitch

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    The first pitch of the season has been a tradition held off and on throughout the years.

    The first came in 1900 from then-President William H. Taft during the opener for the Washington Senators.

    Since then, Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, George Bush (both), Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have participated in this festivity.

    For some fans, it's an awesome experience to be in the same ballpark as the president. For others, it just means longer security lines and traffic.

2. Clydesdales

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    The Clydesdales are one of the biggest symbols of anything in this country.

    Like Ronald McDonald is a symbol for McDonald's, the Clydesdales are a symbol easily identified with Anheuser-Busch.

    There's something about seeing those horses run around the field that speaks Opening Day to me.

    For many fans, seeing them any time during the year has to be special. But, to see them (possibly with your kid) on Opening Day has to be that much more special.

1. Unfurling of the American Flag

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    Maybe it's the former soldier inside of me, but the top tradition for Opening Day is the unfurling of the huge American flag.

    In the end, this is all just a game and there are so many men and women who have given everything to serve our country. Whether it's time away from their families, lost limbs or loss of life, they all deserve our gratitude.

    Whether you agree with the policies, the wars or the politics that go on in this country, one thing we can all get behind is our men and women in uniform.

    Standing with your hats off (gentlemen) and not talking to your buddy during the national anthem is the least we can do.

    As the old saying goes, "All gave some, some gave all."

    Nothing any team or sport does will ever trump the tradition of unfurling the American flag across an large area.


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