Opening Day for Major League Baseball (MLB) this year is on March 29 — and this fact is making history. This early of an opening season is unprecedented (not counting special international games). The season will open earlier than it ever has in the history of baseball. On top of that, it is the first time since 1968 that all 30 MLB teams will open and play on the same day.
Baseball fans are making plans to enjoy the sport nicknamed “America’s Favorite Pastime.” Crowds across the nation will be singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and celebrating the beginning of 2018 baseball. Gather your family and friends and head to the stadium, and even better yet, charter a bus or mini bus so you can all go in a big group.
What Prompted the Change in MLB Opening Day?
As a result of a collective bargaining agreement reached during December 2016, all the teams playing in MLB now have four additional days off during the season, beginning with the 2018 Major League Baseball Season1. This extra time off will give players a chance to rest. The numbers of days that make up full-year of service remain 172 service days over 187 days, instead of 183.
To accommodate this change, all teams begin the season on the same day. The final Sunday before the All-Star game typically had a Sunday night game, but this game has been eliminated as well by the collective bargaining agreement.
What Makes Opening Day Stand Apart from All Other Baseball Games?
In baseball, Opening Day3 is a day like no other game day. Why? Here are some quotes from famous baseball players who explain why Opening Day is so special.
“An opener is not like any other game. There’s that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can’t lose ’em all.”
— Early Wynn (Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox)
“There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness and the National Football League.”
— George Vecsey
“You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”
— Joe DiMaggio
“A home opener is always exciting, no matter if it’s home or on the road.”
— Yogi Berra
“In the beginning, there was no baseball. But ever since, there have been few beginnings as good as the start of a new baseball season. It is the most splendid time in sport, in part because baseball is about the only sport left—now that football players report to training camp before the Fourth of July, and hockey players start skating in Indian summer—that still has a time and is true to it.”
— B.J. Phillips
Opening Day Traditions
The first professional baseball team was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio — the Cincinnati Red Stockings (later called the Reds), and it’s not surprising that Cincinnati has some pageantry and tradition associated with Opening Day. As the home of baseball’s first professional team, the season begins with a Findlay Market Parade and you’ll find a lot of people taking off work and kids skipping school to recognize and participate in this event.
For many years, the first pitch of the MLB season was thrown by the Cincinnati Reds and always at a home game, except for two occasions — once in 1966 when rain washed out the opening game in Cincinnati and Philadelphia opened instead, and once in 1990 when a lockout led to the season opening in Houston.
The Chicago Cubs and the Reds were the most common matchups for Opening Day rivals, with the Cubs playing in Cincinnati 36 times on Opening Day.
Another main difference for Opening Days is these are the only games where announcers introduce the complete roster of 25 players, the coaches and clubhouse staff during the pregame activities. Regular games only announce the starting lineup of nine players and the team’s manager. In addition, it’s an honor and privilege for a pitcher to start an Opening Day game.
Ozzie Smith, a former baseball player nicknamed the “Wizard,” played shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres and he used do a back flip when running out onto the field on Opening Day. He did this even at the age of 40. (See 4/26/95 YouTube video3.) He was one of the best short stops in baseball, winning numerous Golden Glove Awards, and in 2014 he started a campaign at the “We the People” site on WhiteHouse.gov, which Anheuser-Busch supported. His petition was to make Opening Day a national holiday.
History Details About Opening Day
The first Opening Day ever held was in 1882, and the Red Stockings (currently the Reds) played the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates ran a close second to the Cubs with 31 Opening Games of the Pirates playing the Reds. The Reds also were unique as the first team that hosted an Interleague game on Opening Day by paying the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2013.
2018 Opening Day Schedule
The match up of teams and scheduled times for Opening Day4 games are as follows:
- Cubs at Marlins 12:40 PM
- Pirates at Tigers 1:10 PM
- Cardinals at Mets 1:10 PM
- Twins at Orioles 3:05 PM
- Astros at Rangers 3:35 PM
- Yankees at Blue Jays 3:37 PM
- Red Sox at Rays 4:00 PM
- Angels at Athletics 4:05 PM
- Brewers at Padres 4:10 PM
- Phillies at Braves 4:10 PM
- Nationals at Reds 4:10 PM
- White Sox at Royals 4:15 PM
- Giants at Dodgers 7:08 PM
- Indians at Mariners 10:10 PM
- Rockies at D-backs 10:10 PM
All games are matchups within the same league except for the interleague game between the Tigers and Pirates. There will also be nine games played the next day, March 30.
Interesting Facts About the Upcoming 2018 MLB Year
Here are some interesting facts about the 2018 MLB schedule that baseball fans may want to know about:
- The Yankees are opening their season in Toronto for the first time since 2003.
- Several rivalry matchups occur early in the season this year with the Giants at Dodgers and Astros at Rangers.
- The scheduled final games of the regular season are 12 divisional games on September 30, which means the World Series would end in October, once again on a Tuesday.
- The season will have a single day game again on Thursday July 19 with the Cardinals playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
- Interleague Play will include some matchups that were common in the World Series games over the past 10 years, such as the Phillies-Rays, the Cubs-Indians, the Yankees-Phillies and the Giants-Rangers.
- The Puerto Rico games are going to see more action this year, the first since the Mets and Mariners played three-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan in 2010. This year’s games will count as home contests for the Minnesota Twins, and players that hail from Puerto Rico such as Francisco Lindor of Cleveland and Eddie Rosario of Minnesota will return to their home turf for this year’s series. On Sunday, April 15, which is Jackie Robinson Day, Hiram Bithorn Stadium will host a two-game series between the Twins and the Indians.
- In commemoration of 50 years since the A’s inaugural game at the Oakland Coliseum, they will make their game against the White Sox on April 17 (exactly 50 years later) free for all fans. This will be one of the first totally free games in MLB history.
Rely on US Coachways to Drive Your Group to the Stadium
The freeways you take to the stadium and back are likely to be congested, and once you arrive at the stadium you’ll encounter even more traffic and have to deal with parking. But wait…this was supposed to be fun!
Renting a motorcoach, mini bus or limo is a much better way to go. Sit back, relax and let a professional driver deal with the hassles. Chat with family and friends during the drive to the stadium. If you’ve rented a party bus – that’s even better. You can have a few beers or cocktails, turn on some music or watch the large screen television. By the time you divide up the costs, you’ll find it’s a very economical way to take in a game.
Not only that — motor coaches are the safest form of ground transportation in the country, and you don’t have to worry about designating a driver. They are also more eco-friendly than any other vehicle, so you’ll be helping the environment as well.
Imagine not having to worry about trying to time your arrivals so everyone can meet up. No waiting for stragglers or stress over delays.
At US Coachways, we’re excited about helping you plan the details of your big game out. Call our toll-free number at 1-888-340-9122.