Bill checked his wallet for the opening day tickets. There were only two this year; for the last eight years it had been the three of them in the stands, the Three Amigos, three generations sharing America's past time. Bill's dad had passed away a week into the new year. He and his dad had season tickets since the time Bill was seven, went to every game, no matter the weather. Once Bill had sat through a double header with a 101.05 degree fever. Opening day had been a tradition.
His daughter Mary walked in, her team jersey over a pair of torn jeans, a baseball cap covering her multi-colored spiked hair. A worn glove was tucked under her arm. She smiled warmly at him.
"Ready to go, Daddio?"
Bill laughed; his dad always used to say that. He put his wallet away and grabbed his keys as the two of them made their way to the car.
They left the car at the station and hopped the train into the city. There were a few other die hard fans on the train, kids skipping school, grown ups taking a vacation day from work. They got to the stop and walked three blocks to the stadium. People were swarming all over the place; fans, vendors hawking the riches of the game. Programs, pennants, large foam gloves with "We're Number One" printed on it. Part of the ritual for opening day was Mary trying her persuasive best to get her dad to buy her an over priced souvenir. Usually Bill's dad would buy it for her. It wasn't quite the same when Bill forked over the twenty dollars for the team mascot key ring.
They walked into the stadium, and went up to their section, where the next part of the ritual took place. Standing in line at the concession stand, waiting to buy an exorbitantly priced hot dog, hot pretzel, and beer for him, soda for her. This would have been the part where Bill's dad would start to reminisce about how when he and Billy came to the game when Billy was Mary's age, it would only cost him ten bucks to feed the two of them. They got their food and made their way to their seats. It had always been Bill, his dad, then Mary. Bill and Mary bumped elbows as they got comfortable. They sat in silence, eating their red hots, mustard dripping onto their pants.
Suddenly the crowd erupted in a loud roar as the home team took the field to warm up. Bill and Mary watched intently, making comments about the prospects for this player's season, whether the pitching staff would bring them to post season. That was the beauty of opening day; the whole season lay ahead of you. Anything was possible.
Finally the teams were introduced, and the stadium announcer spoke solemnly, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for our National Anthem". Bill and Mary stood, their hats over the hearts. A soft sob escaped from Mary's throat.
"Pop-Pop should be here."
Bill put his arm around his daughter's shoulders as he struggled with the lump in his throat. There's no crying in baseball.