It's time to play ball!
Opening Day is the crack of the bat, the smell of hot dogs and your favorite team tied for first place.
I watched one-third of the nation dress like they were rooting for the Green Bay Packers instead of the Minnesota Twins.
One hundred and sixty-two games seems like an awful lot, but to the true baseball fan it is seven months of bliss.
If you throw in the diehards that follow spring training, it's almost nine months of baseball.
Some strange things can happen during a baseball season and I'd like to share a few of them with you.
Did you know the chances of a fan getting hit by a baseball are 300,000 to 1?
But one day in Philadelphia, those odds went out the window. Richie Ashburn, a 1950s and 1960s star with the Phillies, was at bat. He fouled a hard line drive down the third base line and it struck a lady in the face.
She needed immediate medical attention, and the game was halted so ambulance attendants could take her away on a stretcher.
As she was being carried out, the game resumed. Ashburn promptly fouled the next pitch into the stands, striking the poor lady as she lay on the stretcher. So much for 300,000 to 1.
There is always a little bit of showmanship and entertainment in baseball. Bill Veeck, owner of the St. Louis Browns, decided to sign a dwarf to play ball. Eddie Gaedel was only 3 feet 7 inches tall. He wore the number 1/8 on the back of his jersey.
His strike zone was less than six inches. In his only major league at-bat, Gaedel took four straight balls and ran to first. After much protest, the commissioner of baseball forced Veeck to drop little Eddie from the team.
There's also some irony in baseball. In 1923, Clarence Blethen pitched for the Boston Red Sox. Clarence wore false teeth and he believed he would look meaner on the mound if he removed his teeth to stare down the batter.
Blethen put his false teeth in his back pocket. Clarence reached first base in his next at-bat and tried to steal second. He had forgotten his teeth were in his back pocket, and they jammed on his behind as he slid.
Clarence Blethen was the only man in baseball history to be injured by biting himself in the butt.
To show you how times have really changed, the great Cy Young — who the Cy Young Award is named for — was once traded for a suit of clothes.
Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf beneath his cap. He changed the leaf every two innings to keep himself cool and probably help his hangover.
The last fact is one that really stands out. In the early 1970s, the average salary of a professional baseball player was $25,000.
Today the average salary of a major league player is $3.1 million. Too bad our salaries didn't follow baseball.
Enjoy our national pastime.
John Blabe is the football coach at Kofa High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.