Campaign launched to dub MLB's Opening Day a national holiday
A general view of the outside of Wrigley Field prior to a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. Mandatory (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Former St. Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith and Budweiser are promoting the idea. Smith will campaign for the next 30 days to gain support for the initiative before the start of the 2014 season.
In order for the White House to formally respond to the petition, 100,000 signatures are needed.
The petition reads:
"MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season. It's a symbol of rebirth. The coming of spring. The return of America's national pastime. It's a state of mind where anything is possible. You can feel the electricity in the air. Opening Day brings with it the promise of a new beginning. Every fan is in good spirits. It's a day of celebration. It's a day of hope. It's a day that, for generations, has been looked forward to by baseball fans every off-season. It's an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday. Join us in our quest to make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day those two magical words are uttered for the first time: "PLAY BALL!"
Major League Baseball considers March 31 as its opening day this year, but the season will have already begun on March 22 when the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia. The Dodgers then return to the United States to face the San Diego Padres on March 30.
MLB cited a recent survey showing that 22.2 million Americans age 21 or older have skipped work or other duties to attend an opening-day game.