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Spring Has Sprung
Frank Deford
April 10, 1978
It's Opening Day, so buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, remember to hold the label up and tell me Who's on First?
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April 10, 1978

Spring Has Sprung

It's Opening Day, so buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, remember to hold the label up and tell me Who's on First?

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c Henry Aaron.

d Jackie Robinson.

16) When Abbott got the phone call telling him that Costello had died, he was:

a Packing to go to Cooperstown to present the Who's on First? script to the Hall of Fame.

b In Walter O'Malley's box at a Dodger-Giant game.

c Talking to his manager about performing Who's on First? at the White House when President Eisenhower entertained Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

d Watching the Who's on First? routine in an old movie being rerun on TV.

EXTRA CREDIT: Name the rightfielder in Who's on First?

Opening Day seems to have attained a certain ceremonial status long before presidents got into the act. Christmas found its arbitrary December slot on the calendar because there was already cause for celebration: the lengthening of the days, which had been the reason for the pagan festival of Saturnalia for centuries before Jesus' birth. In the same way, Opening Day fit right in as a welcome to spring. Of course, the vernal equinox always came before Opening Day, but in the northeastern quadrant of the country, where major league baseball was contained until 1957, consistently mild weather did not arrive until sometime in April. Moreover, it is worth remembering that in those days people did not gambol on indoor tennis courts all winter, or watch golf tournaments from the desert on TV, or fly off to Barbados and the Yucatan. Baseball was the only game in town, except maybe for some basketball over at the Y, and its return was a true renaissance of life.

We do not know exactly when politicians began to exploit this afternoon of goodwill, but it was surely by the Gay Nineties, perhaps earlier. When President Taft threw out the first ball on April 14, 1910 at National Park, a contemporary account noted that he was usurping the "time-honored" role of the District of Columbia's city commissioners.

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