There are officially eleven federal holidays in the United States, and if Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith has his druthers, MLB's Opening will be the twelfth, according to a story on the St. Louis Cardinals' team site.
Smith, who spent fifteen years as a member of the Cardinals organization announced he was "hitting the campaign trail" as part of a partnership with Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser to get a petition with the required 100,000 signatures to the White House before Opening Day, which falls on March 31st this year. While it appears on the surface be a PR stunt -- especially considering the ties between the Anheuser-Busch corporation, the St. Louis Cardinals organization and MLB -- the thirteen-time Gold Glove desire to make the day one of official national significance seems at least somewhat genuine. It's hard to say, directly, however, as Smith plans to begin the campaign by addressing the media tomorrow regarding his feelings on the matter.
He'll be following up the press conference with a series of videos, which, according to the report will be released periodically over the next month, and, of course, can be viewed by visiting Budweiser's official Opening Day webpage.
And while he may be the latest to get a sport-related day of significance status as a federal holiday, he's definitely not the first to try to get a petition in front of the White House or (presumably) make impassioned pleas based on the ability of sports to bring America together. But unlike many other industrialized nations, the US has had difficulty establishing national or, in our case, "federal" holidays for reasons significantly more important than the second day of MLB games in March.
From Christopher Columbus to Martin Luther King, simply getting your name -- or in MLB's case, "brand" -- attached to a holiday is a significant undertaking, especially with no national holidays for women, native americans or even Election Day.
However, even if they manage to get enough signatures, then get "proposed" by a member of the United States congress, then approved by the legislators, achieving widespread adoption of the holiday isn't a guarantee. There any number of reasons for this, as President Day's sales -- and the retail workers who are in the store on those days -- can attest. But, most importantly, there's the Tenth Amendment, which only allows the federal government to create holidays for those under their jurisdiction, like federal government employees and the District of Columbia.
The amendment essentially gives powers to the states to dictate which days are or aren't public holidays. It's why states like Arizona could take so long to recognize Martin Luther King day -- actually only doing so after the NFL threatened to move a planned Super Bowl that had been awarded to the state -- and why even if it were to become an official holiday, Maine (for instance) could choose to not observe Opening Day, if it ever came to fruition.
But Ozzie is a wizard, so we should probably give him a better chance than most on getting this one through.