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Remembering Opening Days Of Yore

Guest Commentary By James H. Burns

How will I greet Opening Day?

By Burma-Shaving with my Gem Razor, of course.

For lunch, I can grill some Ballpark Franks (garnished with Gulden's), washing them down with an RC Cola or Sun-Dew Orange Drink.

Then, I'll make sure there's a proper Esquire Boot Polish shine on my Stadler shoes.

For dessert, I can fire up my Dodge Dart--fueled with Esso, of course--to see if there's still a Brass Rail restaurant anywhere around (and possibly buy, a Mrs. Wagner's Pie).

Afterwards, I'll check my Bulova to see if there's time to head over to Howard's Clothes, where I might pick up a Manhattan Shirt, or Botany Tie.

(If my gal insists on a nightcap, we could go to the Haymarket or the Amber Lantern, or opt for ice cream and coffee at Schrafft's.  We could be really indulgent, and make an early weekend getaway, on Eastern...)

Of course, we might both be better off just picking up a new setee at Michaels & Co. Furniture...

At least, I could do all these things, if I had a time machine.

And why not?

Baseball has become virtually a corporate game, and these products were early sponsors of stadium signage or broadcast ads. Perhaps by embracing these pioneers of commercialization, (if only in my imagination), I could somehow get a taste of that seemingly more innocent epoch.

Many of us, after all, recall these once-upon-a-time sponsors with fun, and fondness. Perhaps that's a sad portent of the imprint ubiquitous marketing can pave on the brain, or a pleasant reminder that even the markers on the path to yesterday, can make one smile...

Some of these products were actually also better than their modern day equivalents. (I'm fairly certain I haven't tasted a hot dog as good as a Mizarachi frank, in years...And was there every anything as beckoning as Coke or Pepsi, in a glass bottle with real sugar?)

It could be that these memories-- like baseball itself, in many way—are simply a reverie.

If all else fails, and the hopes for our favorite franchises become yet another gilt-edged disappointment, at least I can still pop open an ice-cold Ballantine or Rheingold which was revived in 1998 although it's no longer brewed in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Ah, and who can forget Miss Rheingold or the memorable jingle that still rattles around my head:

My beer is Rheingold the dry beer
Think of Rheingold whenever you buy beer
It's not bitter, not sweet, it's the extra dry treat
Won't you try extra dry Rheingold beer?

 If that doesn't suffice, there's always the more direct expedient of that once-upon-a-time scorecard advertisement perennial: A forty-proof--if not fool-proof--scotch.

What's your favorite New York baseball opening day memory? Please comment below.

(James H. (Jim) Burns, a writer/actor living in Long Island, has written for such magazines as Gentleman's Quarterly, Esquire, Twilight Zone and Heavy Metal. More recently, Jim has made several contributions to Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, become active in radio, and written Op-Eds or features for Newsday, The Village Voice, and The New York Times.

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