The Indians returned to Progressive Field yesterday for the first time since losing Game 7 of the World Series last November. They beat the White Sox 2-1 in 10 innings in front of a packed stadium.
Filling the seats on opening day isn’t new --- this was the Indians’ 24th consecutive sellout.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says whether the team is expected to be good or bad, tickets for that first home game always are gone within minutes. So what makes opening day in baseball so special?
A baseball season has 162 games. Basketball has 82. Football – just 16.
“You would think the sport with the fewer games would sell out the fastest," Pluto says. "For the Browns, unless they happen to be opening against the Steelers, you can get a ticket for the first game. No big deal.”
And, he adds, baseball fans don’t care who the Indians play on opening day.
As for basketball, it’s similar. “There’s no, ‘Oh boy! They have the home opener I gotta be there for the Cavs!’ And in the past, before LeBron James came back, they were not selling out the home opener, which is 20,000 seats.”
Spring weather? The first game? Nope.
Maybe it’s the coming of spring that gets people excited for baseball? Unlikely, says Pluto. “Half the time it snows during the opening!”
And, he adds, it’s not even the excitement of it being the first game of the season.
“Most of the time the Indians open on the road, like they did this year. They started with three games in Texas and then three in Arizona. So, this was actually game seven.”
Pluto says the only conclusion he comes to is that opening day has become a family tradition.
“When I was a kid, my father would take me out of school and he would dodge out of work from the warehouse and he would take me.
One year it was so cold in the old stadium, the half the crowd was gone by the 3rd inning. The sun was out, but it was like 30 degrees, and we followed it from section to section around the whole stadium like a sundial.
I don’t remember who they were playing. I assumed the Indians lost because they usually did."
Pluto says after opening day has been a different story.
“Game 1 at Progressive Field, 41,000. Game 2, they’d announce 9,800 and they'd actually be at about 5,000 there and I think some of those people just never went home. They stayed the night,” he jokes.
Hype fuels ticket sales this year
Still, Pluto says there is added excitement and interest this year.
"They’re up to almost 1.3 million tickets sold. They only drew 1.5 million for the entire season last year. They’ve also sold nearly 13,000 season tickets, the most since 2008.
The Indians are picked to win the Central Division for good reason. They are a team that you want to see play.”