Major League Baseball, its teams and fans are celebrating opening day from home, after the start of the season was postponed due to coronavirus.
Earlier this month, MLB, along with many other professional sports leagues, announced that it would be delaying the start of its season amid concerns over the spread of the respiratory virus.
On 26 March, what would have been the first day of MLB games, the baseball league’s commissioner Rob Manfred took the opportunity to reflect on the changes the sport faces and the hopes for the future.
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“Opening day holds an important place in our hearts. It signifies the arrival of spring, the promise of new beginnings, the return of following your favourite team on a long journey filled with twists and turns, and the hope that your team will put together a magical season you will remember forever,” Manfred wrote in a statement shared to social media.
“Today is unlike any opening day in Major League Baseball’s long history. We need to call on the optimism that is synonymous with Opening Day and the unflinching determination required to navigate an entire baseball season to help us through the challenging situation currently facing us all.”
The MLB commissioner also encouraged the sports followers to follow the health and safety guidelines outlined by public health experts, before promising that baseball will return as soon as “it’s safe to do so”.
In the statement, Manfred then reflected on the ways in which the baseball community has come together to help one another during this period, which include raising money for charities such as Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America and committing $30m to ballpark employees.
And while there will be no new baseball games for fans, Manfred promised “there will still be plenty of baseball for you to watch,” as thousands of games have been made available for free through MLB.TV, MLB.com and MLB’s YouTube account.
Manfred also said MLB would be hosting Opening Day at Home, which will include a selection of 30 games – one for each club – that can be enjoyed across digital platforms.
He concluded the post reminding MLB fans that baseball has “helped us get through difficult times” and that the sport will “continue to be here for you as we face these challenges together as a community”.
MLB teams and their players have also marked what would have been opening day with messages on social media.
“Missing baseball and that opening day excitement. We will be back before we know it. Stay home and stay safe!” New York Yankees player Aaron Judge tweeted.
The Red Sox shared an uplifting reminder that “new memories will be made” and “Fenway Park will open once again” but that today is about “everyone who continues to do their part to help weather this storm”.
“Today we celebrate the resilient spirit of this region and our fans. Because that was never put on hold,” the team said.
Among those celebrating opening day at home are baseball fans, who have used the opportunity to share memories from happier times.
“In honour of what would have been opening day, here is the pin for the first opening day of the new Yankee Stadium #OpeningDayAtHome,” one person tweeted.
Another said: “Nothing beats this view. It will be back and it will be better than ever,” alongside a photo of a baseball diamond.
While a new opening day has not been announced, it was reported earlier this month that the start of the season would be delayed until at least mid-May.
“We’re not going to announce an alternate opening day at this point. We’re going to have to see how things develop,” Manfred said at the time.