Of all the sports, baseball might be the one that has the best start to the season. Opening Day brings about a lot of emotions for baseball fans. The optimism of a new season, warmer weather, and for many, unique Opening Day traditions that are synonymous with the start of baseball.
Major League Baseball is a sport rich in history. With some of the oldest teams having fielded a team in the late 1800s, there are plenty of traditions that make each franchise unique.
What about the ones specific to Opening Day? As the baseball world prepares for another summer, here are three of the top traditions on Opening Day that will kick off the season.
The Three Best Opening Day Traditions
Cincinnati Reds – Findlay Market Parade
As a charter member of the American Association in 1881, the Cincinnati Reds are the oldest team in baseball. To signify that status, Major League Baseball had the Opening Day festivities start in Cincinnati. Annually the baseball season would kick off in the Queen City with the first pitch coming off the banks of the Ohio River. Recently that tradition has stopped, though, as television networks have favored other matchups and Major League Baseball has gotten more “creative” with Opening Day.
Caution: wet paint 🎨 pic.twitter.com/F3OhO0vYZN
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) March 28, 2023
The most famous tradition on Opening Day in Cincinnati is the Findlay Market Parade. The event made its first appearance in 1920, however, a parade has taken place on Opening Day since 1890 in Cincinnati. During that time, the parade was managed by the Reds organization, which continued until 1902.
After the parade was discontinued in 1902, various “Rooter’s Groups” within the city started their own parades, continuing the Opening Day tradition in Cincinnati.
In 1920, the Findlay Market started their own Rooter’s group and it quickly became the most supported and best organized of all the groups.
While the parade would continue, it struggled to gain popularity until the Reds moved to the Riverfront stadium in 1970. The move by the Reds altered the parade route to encompass more of downtown, gaining more media attention than it had received previously, elevating it to one of the best Opening Day traditions in baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals – Clydesdales
It would be hard to find a better baseball city than St. Louis. A franchise that is rich in history coupled with a town that derives so much of its identity from the success of the St. Louis Cardinals. In addition to their success on the baseball diamond, St. Louis is also home to one of the best Opening Day traditions in the sport.
The Clydesdales have been a part of Opening Day in St. Louis since the 1970s, however, the relationship between the two started much earlier. On April 7, 1933, August A. Busch Jr. presented the horses to his father, August A. Busch Sr., outside the brewery. The horses pulled the first post-prohibition beer into St. Louis and became a national symbol of the brewery in subsequent years.
When the Busch family purchased the Cardinals, they wanted to make Opening Day more of an event than it currently was in St. Louis. So, they decided to have the famous Clydesdales parade around the warning track at Busch Stadium.
Today, this tradition continues. In addition to pulling the wagon, several former Cardinals players will join the parade each Opening Day to celebrate the start of a new season.
Raising of the World Series Banner
While this last one isn’t specific to any one team, it is still one of the most special events to happen each Opening Day. The raising of the World Series Banner for the team that earned this honor the previous season.
It not only symbolizes the success of the defending champions but serves as a reminder to baseball fans across the country of what they hope their team can achieve this season. What it is that will have checking box scores every night throughout the summer, the dream that one day our team will lift that banner.