Of baseball and birthdays

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, March 24, 2018

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My wife recently bought a new seasonal decoration for our front door.

It’s a small, burlap wall hanging squared off on the top and sides, while the bottom is “V” shaped.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Each day as I pass by it, the shape reminds me of something very familiar: the home plate of a baseball diamond.

As if I needed more visual clues to spark my baseball mind, the banner says “Home Sweet Home.”

Ah yes, opening day is near.

For baseball fans, there is nothing quite like opening day. It’s always on our mind this time of year.

I’ll admit, when my wife was pregnant with our first child years ago and we found out the due date was in late March or early April, part of me was rooting for her to be born on opening day when my Texas Rangers would take on the Los Angeles Angels. It seemed perfect in my baseball-loving mind.

Instead, Audree was born four days before opening day. I’m happy to say it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm I felt that day as I became a dad.

Four years later, my son was born during baseball’s opening month. Zachary arrived 16 days into the baseball season. And yes, I do recall the Rangers played the L.A. Angels that day. No, I don’t recall who won or the final score. (The Rangers won 7-1, according to the wonder of the internet.)

And Zachary’s middle name of Ryan may or may not have anything to do with my childhood baseball hero and former Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan.

So now one of my favorite days since childhood is sandwiched between two of my favorite days as a father. In between the two birthdays, I’ve tried to create a new gift giving tradition on baseball’s opening day.

I buy each of them a pack of baseball cards.

From the age of around 12 to about the time I started driving a car a few years later, there wasn’t much I loved more than collecting baseball cards. I’ve still got binders and boxes of them stashed away around the house.

I realize my daughter would much rather paint pictures or read about animals than have to even think about daddy’s favorite sport, and Zachary would really prefer electronic gaming over thumbing through a stack of baseball cards. Of course, Pokemon cards are a different story.

Nevertheless, I persist. In buying them cards.

But I find it is getting harder to find baseball cards. The past couple of years, I’ve gone into places like Walmart only to come up empty in my search for those packs of cardboard treasure.

Guess I’ll have to break some old habits and order cards online. Times change, even in the baseball world.

Thanks to a recent Collective Bargaining Agreement between the MLB players association and owners, which will result in more off days throughout the year, the baseball season is opening on its earliest date in history.

Not only will I get to enjoy baseball earlier than ever this year, but my wish from 11 years ago will come true.

Thursday will mark Audree’s birthday and the Rangers’ opening day.

It doesn’t get much better for this baseball-loving dad.

Brian Knox is the Messenger special projects editor.

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