Ozzie Smith Goes To Bat For A New National Holiday: Opening Day

Quiz time: Quick, how many national holidays are there? Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick … DING! There are 10. With 355 days left on the calendar, it would seem there would be ample room for another, right?

St. Louis Cardinals icon Ozzie Smith thinks so. The Hall of Fame shortstop is trying to collect 100,000 signatures by March 26 in an attempt to make Major League Baseball's Opening Day a national holiday. The White House will review petitions that receive that many signatures in 30 days. As of this writing, Smith is about half way there. And the Wizard's not working alone. He's also got the support of Anheuser-Busch (the driving force behind the campaign).

But is this a good idea? From a logistical standpoint, it's a bit confusing. If the policy were in place now, the 2014 MLB schedule suggests three possible days that could be designated as the national holiday. March 22, when the Dodgers will play the Diamondbacks, marks the beginning of what the league is calling its "Opening Series." It's happening in Australia. It would be a little weird for the holiday to be celebrated Down Under. MLB has dubbed March 30 its "Opening Night." Both of those dates fall on the weekend. Who needs a national holiday that falls on a weekend? Based on this year's schedule, it's logical to conclude that Monday, March 31 would be the logical Opening Day. Plus, it's already … Opening Day.

Is a day for thousands of people to skip work, sit in the stands and wear winter clothing while watching an allegedly summer game, worthy of national observance?  And, if Major League Baseball's kickoff joins the ranks of the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, how long will it take for the NFL to lobby for its own national jubilee? I'd say the odds are pretty good. The Super Bowl is the closest this country comes to a universally observed religious holiday. But there could be some separation-of-church-and-state issues. Would the declaration of Super Bowl Day as a national holiday violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution?

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Gary Waleik Producer, Only A Game
Gary Waleik is a producer for Only A Game.



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