“You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” - Joe DiMaggio
For as long as I can remember, spring has always been marked by the same hopeful question from my Dad to his girls: “Did you see your first robin yet?” Growing up in northern Wisconsin, come March and April we would all be anxious to catch a glimpse of the brown bird with the broad orange chest, because if the robins were back, it meant sunshine and warm breezes were not far behind. And while I have always cherished spring for the new buds on the trees and fresh forms of life sprouting all around, there is a slightly different, yet equally exciting, reason that I keep my eyes peeled for robins this time of year: With spring comes baseball, and with baseball comes Opening Day.
If you’re a sports fan, the words ‘Opening Day’ likely conjure up feelings of new beginnings, uncluttered horizons, and the thrilling notion that anything is possible. All 30 teams now have a shot to win it all, and it’s as if someone has handed you a brand new choose-your-own-adventure-novel. What you may not realize, however, is that for those who work in Major League Baseball club front offices, they are already several chapters into their 2017 book.
Planning for a season of 162 games is a process that takes several months, and for most clubs, begins well before the previous season has ended. From an events and promotions standpoint, there are bobbleheads to design, theme nights to get on the calendar, and special milestone markers to think of. For several teams, there is also the task of planning off-season events to keep fans engaged and spark interest and excitement for the coming year. Hargrove has had the honor of working with MLB clubs for years on their annual Fan Fests, and each winter we are reinvigorated by working with the team staff on ways to highlight new marketing campaigns, introduce new players and coaches, and cultivate unique fan experiences.
Opening Day and the start of a new season is also the perfect opportunity for brands and corporate partners to activate around the ballpark and in the marketplace. This year, Hargrove client Anheuser-Busch announced the rollout of customized MLB Team Cans, while The Honest Company decided to kick things off with an MLB-themed diaper line called, ‘Born a Fan’. Several teams have announced new hospitality and tailgate areas associated with sponsors, while others have beefed up their culinary experiences, collaborating with celebrity chefs and bringing in a wide range of local micro-breweries.
Whether you choose to view Opening Day as a clean slate, wiping away all that has come before it, or whether you see it as something your hometown team has been building up to since last fall, I think we can all agree it’s one of the most magical times of year. I know I’m looking forward to a hot dog today, and it’s been far too long since I’ve stood and swayed along with ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’. Hargrove tips our cap to Major League Baseball and all of its member clubs this season, and we hope you root, root, root for your home team. Hope truly does spring eternal.