A Toast to the Home Opener
by Stacey May Fowles
Baseball is back, my friends, and now that we’ve been reunited with our boys of summer, we're all busy making our summer plans. We’re inviting beloved friends to scheduled games, planning far away road trips to foreign stadiums, and parking ourselves at our favourite sports barstool. And we’re more than ready to finally see our roster trot onto their home field for the first time, and to carry out a marathon season that could go almost anywhere.
This time of year, when you finally get to see the game back in your hometown (and your daily life) is nothing short of celebratory. It's spiritual and blissfully cheery. It’s a lovely sigh of relief. With hordes of baseball fan bodies pushing through the Rogers Stadium turnstiles for the first time, countless chilly tall cans cracked, and so many hot dogs consumed, who really cares about wins or losses at this point? It's a long season, and this is the home turf kickoff party we all feel honoured to be at, even though everyone in the city is invited.
One thing I've found to be consistently true during the start of the season is that people are just a little bit nicer to each other. Fans have their trusty ball caps on, the thaw is upon us, and we all feel a little bit lighter. It may be a small thing, but the camaraderie of sharing this celebration—the beginning of baseball and the end of winter—is one that can really be felt deep in your bones. Because baseball’s start is timed so beautifully with the weather change, it’s like we're all shedding the wintery old and welcoming the springy new, throwing our arms around each other in a big old "we made it" embrace.
If winter has the tendency to make me a bit of a shut-in misanthrope, the start of baseball makes me want to run into the street screaming with joy, enthusiastically falling in love with humanity all over again. (Hey, you may even catch me smiling at strangers.)
During any given season, I think a lot about the idea of a "baseball family." I am a person who didn't have a big family growing up, and now that I'm older my humble household is just the two of us. I think because of that there is a part of me that always longed for a broader familial connection, this idea of being tethered to other people via a unique shared love. People willing to be present through thick and thin, bad times and good. I admit it may sound a bit silly, and I acknowledge it is “only a game,” but baseball fandom has given me that feeling of connection when not a lot else did.
The surprising relationships I've forged with other fans while sharing my adoration for baseball have been so meaningful to me when I've been at my best and my worst, if only because they gave me a community where I didn't feel I had one, a place to banter and cheer and cry, to gush about greatness and weep about defeat. To really care about something. And though we don't always agree on the best way to manage a bullpen or who should be in the leadoff spot, we're all in this together, day in and day out, until that last day in the fall when someone takes it all.
Though I'm sure there will be squabbles throughout the season, with inevitable fan grumpiness causing a battle or two, these first few weeks of baseball are a wonderful reminder of what we're really all here for—this game, our enjoyment of it, and each other. And at the start of every season, I'm so glad I found this thing that makes me so happy, and I'm so happy to say hello to my summer family all over again.
Here’s to another glorious season.
Adapted from the Baseball Life Advice weekly e-newsletter.
from Stacey May Fowles
Not only is Stacey May Fowles and avid baseball fan, she's an avid reader. Below are just some of her picks for some great spring reads.
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
Insightful, vulnerable, and altogether human, this debut essay collection is somehow simultaneously tender and gritty, light-hearted and heavy with meaning, blisteringly hilarious and thoughtfully empathetic.
Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear
Tracking the author’s surprising year in urban birding, at its core this book really has very little to do with birds at all. It’s a gorgeous, poetic defence of all the small things we tend to overlook, giving readers a necessary reprieve from the realities of their own anxiety, grief, and loss.
Next Year, For Sure by Zoe Leigh Peterson
Never exploitative or sensationalizing, Next Year, For Sure is a lively yet sensitive novel that examines both the possibilities and struggles inherent to loving beyond typical constraints. While the author certainly doesn’t gloss over any challenges when it comes to polyamory, she does ask readers to confront their own beliefs, biases and judgments, which, after all, is exactly what great literature should do.