Opening Day petition gets to first base

 

The Obama administration will look at a petition to turn baseball's Opening Day into a federal holiday, just a week before the 2014 season begins for most teams.

A White House petition has garnered more than 100,000 signatures from baseball fans around the country, enough to trigger a review by the president, who cheers for the Chicago White Sox.

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As of mid-day Monday, 101,591 people had signed the petition, which was started by beer company Anheuser-Busch and is being promoted by Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals.

While the Obama administration will have to review the petition, most say it is a long shot that the president would adopt such a rule.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The federal government, along with many companies in the private sector, are closed on holidays. So such a rule would give baseball fans around the country a chance to attend their favorite team's first game of the season without having to skip work or cut class.

The petitioners may find at least one congressional supporter in Rep. Pete King (D-N.Y.). The New York Mets and former Brooklyn Dodgers fan said he takes his son and nine-year-old grandson to at least one Mets game each season, but has never been to Opening Day.

"Baseball is a national pastime," King said in an interview last month. "So it really goes beyond just the game of baseball. It's something that's passed on from generation to generation, and it really is special. This would be a symbolic way of showing national unity."

But critics say creating a new holiday it would take the fun out of Opening Day.

"Part of the fun of Opening Day is skipping work," Political pundit George Will told The Hill said in an interview last month. "If they make it a national holiday, there will be no work to skip."

Meanwhile, some House Republicans like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said this would send the wrong signal to the economy.

"I am a huge baseball fan, but I am an even bigger fan of work," said Gowdy, who roots for the Cincinnati Reds. "Do we really need another day off?"