TERRE HAUTE —
Calendars in Cincinnati contain one extra holiday — Opening Day, traditionally the first Monday in April.
Only a few Cincinnatians circle the following Wednesday on their calendars.
In Ohio’s Queen City, the hometown Reds begin their season like no other Major League Baseball team. Downtown shopkeepers conduct the Findlay Market Parade, an old-school event dating back to 1920, featuring bright red pickup trucks and hot rods, high school bands, homemade floats and politicians on the morning of the season’s first game. Food, drink and revelry follows, and then most of the city heads to the stadium where the hometown Reds take on a visiting team. The ritual is unique. Cincinnati is the only big-league club that always opens its season at home.
It’s kind of a big deal there. A sellout crowd jams into the seats. Writers from several states chat with players and managers, optimistically thinking, “This could be our year.” Fans mull World Series potential. The playoffs await, just 162 games away.
I’ve experienced a decent amount of those Reds openers. One stands out, 1985. The Big Red Machine of the 1970s collapsed a few years earlier. Now, one of its most heralded members, Pete Rose, had returned to Cincy as the Reds player-manager. Four other Machine alums also were on the field at Riverfront Stadium that day — Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion and first baseman Tony Perez (in the twilight of their careers), Joe Morgan as a TV commentator, and Dan Driessen, an infielder for the opposing team, the Montreal Expos. Hope reigned, and 52,971 fans showed up.
According to tradition, the Reds always take Tuesday off, and play the Opening Day opponent again on Wednesday.
And, traditionally, the Game 2 crowd is a fraction of the Game 1 throng. The only media present are the work-a-day beat writers. There’s no parade. Fans willing to brave nasty weather for Opening Day are suddenly less inclined. True to form, just 10,491 seats were filled for that Wednesday night game in ’85.
As they say in Cincinnati, only the diehards show up on the second day.
Day 2 challenges our stick-to-itiveness in many aspects of American culture.
Today is Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection — the highlight of the Christian calendar. Church attendance peaks, as folks wearing new dresses and suits and flowers flow into the pews. It’s a time for new beginnings, of faith and the spring season. Ministers — relishing perhaps a one-time chance that newcomers will find a spiritual connection — welcome the new faces, and the return of faces not seen for awhile, and invite them to “please come back next Sunday.”
Next Sunday, the Sunday after Easter. That challenge has prompted some U.S. churches this spring to adopt a tradition of early Greek and Bavarian Christians, designating April 7 as “Risus Paschalis” or Humor Sunday, hoping the opportunity to share laughs will entice the Easter crowd to come back, according to online faith news sites.
The second day on the job often reveals a clearer picture of a new employee. After pouring energy and preparation into that first day, it’s tougher to report for duty 15 minutes early again on Day 2. The patience displayed by co-workers and supervisors on Day 1 dwindles, and the work begins to feel like work. The diehards keep showing up, ready, day after day, soldiering through in spite of aches and pains, disagreements with colleagues and demanding deadlines.
Workplace stick-to-itiveness is called a “soft skill,” a quality many Indiana employers and job trainers say is becoming too rare.
Organizations that rely on volunteers know the difficulty of retaining them. From 2009 to 2011 in Indiana, 67 percent of first-year volunteers returned for the following year, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. The decline is understandable. The euphoria of a project’s potential fades as glitches occur and life interrupts. A car breaks down, a child at home gets sick, the paying day job gets complicated, energy saps, and something has to give.
The season of Day 2s is upon us. Major League Baseball teams open this week. Many employers, especially seasonal construction firms, begin hiring as the snow gives way to sunshine. Community service agencies launch springtime projects and begin preparations for warm-weather fundraisers, festivals and special events. Churches hope their Easter message inspires a once-a-year visitor to come back next Sunday.
In a commencement address last year at Lafayette College, award-winning movie and TV producer Garry Marshall reminded graduates of that Pennsylvania school of the importance of stick-to-itiveness to survive and get the most out of a meaningful life. “Woody Allen once said, ‘80 percent of [success] is just showing up.’ A lot of people don’t show up,” Marshall told them, according to a Washington Post story. “They get hurt, or it didn’t work out for them; they don’t come. Ya gotta be there. It’s important to be there.”
It’s kind of like circling tomorrow on our calendars every day.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.