The sun shines radiantly upon the towering stadium at the corners of Michigan and Trumbull. Spring has arrived and erased the dreary, grey weather of winter. The old dilapidated stadium will come to life in a couple of hours to mark the beginning of an anticipated season. Brringg! The bell signals the end of class and I anxiously wait for my mother to arrive. I find myself impatiently glancing at the clock every two minutes; finally the car pulls up.
I jump into the back seat and throw off my heavy backpack. As my mom pulls away, the same old raspy voice can be heard over the radio. I try to block out the blaring AM station, but the word “opening day” grabs my attention. The weatherman forecasts a sunny day with a cool breeze. A smile erupts on my face, which my mom can’t help but notice through the reflection of the rearview mirror. I arrive home and hurriedly run up the steps.
Stacks of baseball cards and other memorabilia blanket the floor beneath me. I throw off my grade school uniform and find my clothes nicely folded on top of the dresser. I slip on a pair of jeans, but can’t figure out which shirt to wear. I take a seat on my bed and slowly contemplate which Tiger’s T-shirt I should wear. Looking at them brings back memories of past visits to Tiger games. I begin to reminisce, however my daydreaming is short-lived and terminated by the ringing chimes that signal the arrival of my other fifth-grade friends.
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I quickly grab any shirt and put on my broken-in baseball cap while running downstairs. My friends and I load the car and we pull away from my house. At last we ” re on our way. We arrive at the stadium among a frenzy of other fans. As I step out of the car, my body shakes with a chilling flash of excitement. I rub down the goose bumps that graze my arms and nervously reach into my pocket to find my ticket.
It’s still there, but a light film of sweat still covers my palms. Even though we are a few blocks from the stadium, a buzz penetrates the air. Judging by the deafening cheers of the crowd, we know the game has already started. As I glance at the shaking stadium during each wild wave of applause, my steps increase ever so slightly in anticipation. Hot dog vendors, ticket scalpers, and souvenir shops line up the streets leading to the stadium. My friends and I take our place in the lengthy line, along with the other excited fans.
The line never seems to move, but finally we reach the gate. Upon entering the gate, the aroma of grilled hot dogs and freshly popped popcorn becomes more overpowering. Despite the various aromas, I’m captivated by the distinct smell of freshly mown grass. We squirm our way through the growing crowds outside each section.
I trip on a clown’s long red shoe and fall to the cement. My hand falls down among cotton candy, peanuts, and beer spilt on the ground. We continue on our way and finally reach our section. As I walk down the steps to our seats, I wonder when the maintenance crew last cleaned these sticky steps. A sound like the detachment of velcro marks each lift of my shoe. We fight our way through the traffic, and finally take our seats behind the home teams’ bench alongside the first base line.
I gaze around the stadium and notice almost every seat occupied. Colorful signs, banners, and confetti spot the bleacher seats high on the upper deck. The game progresses slowly and the teams remain scoreless into the ninth inning. The home crowd remains hopeful and tries to pump up the players with a thunderous cheer. I scream to the top of my lungs and wave my colorful hankie. However, a tremendous crack of the bat silences the stunned crowd.
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A long ball goes way back, clearing the towering wall in center field. The previous rumbling crowd now sits silently, while the visiting team celebrates their victory. We slowly exit the stadium along with the disappointed crowd. As we walk back to the car, I turn around and look back. The lively stadium is now put back to sleep, and I must wait another year for the next opening day.