The St. Louis beer company's White House petition to have the first day of the season declared a national holiday reached the minimum threshold of 100,000 signatures required for a response from the administration on Friday, several days ahead of the 30-day deadline.
"There's no denying the passion that baseball fans have for America's national pastime," said former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, the campaign's spokesperson. "The more than 100,000 people who signed the petition are just a fraction of the 1.3 million who will attend Opening Day games this year. The day is already an unofficial holiday, but now it's time to make it official."
While the White House has a self-imposed 60-day window to respond to any petitions that hit the 100,000 signature mark, Tom Kraus, the director Budweiser Brand Marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev, said the conversation is already underway to get an answer before Opening Day arrives next Monday, March 31.
"No doubt everybody would love to have a day off," Kraus said. "But the real goal is having the White House recognize this effort and proclaim it a national day of observance. That really just recognizes how powerful Opening Day itself is across the country. That's the ultimate win."
The petition's text highlighted the role of baseball -- and the start of the season -- as a day for Americans to come together:
MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season. It’s a symbol of rebirth. The coming of spring. The return of America's national pastime. It’s a state of mind where anything is possible. You can feel the electricity in the air. Opening Day brings with it the promise of a new beginning. Every fan is in good spirits. It’s a day of celebration. It’s a day of hope. It’s a day that, for generations, has been looked forward to by baseball fans every off-season. It’s an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday. Join us in our quest to make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day those two magical words are uttered for the first time: “PLAY BALL!"