NEW YORK – Ozzie Smith wants the federal government to make opening day of the Major League Baseball season a national holiday.
The Hall of Fame shortstop is leading a campaign to collect 100,000 signatures within 30 days under the We the People petitioning program, which would trigger a review by the Obama administration. The effort is being backed by Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser brand.
“Coming from St. Louis, of course being such a baseball town, it’s sort of an unofficial holiday, opening day, so they thought it would be a good idea for Mr. Smith to just take a trip to Washington,” Smith said Tuesday during a phone interview.
The 59-year-old Smith, known as the “Wizard of Oz” for his great glove, played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1982-96 after spending his first four big league seasons with the San Diego Padres. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
“I don’t know exactly what the odds of success are,” Smith said. “With the Budweiser machine behind it, I’m sure that we’ll get the 100,000 signatures.”
Anheuser-Busch said 10 percent of respondents said they had skipped work to attend or watch an MLB opener, according to a survey by KRC Research. The online survey of 1,004 Americans 21 or older was conducted from Feb. 13-16, and there was a 95 percent level of confidence the error margin was plus-or-minus 3.09 percent.
As for the current hot topic in baseball, Smith has reservations about any attempt by MLB to ban home plate collisions.
“I’m not so sure that it was broken, and I’m of the belief that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “I think most of the concussions that come from baseball don’t come from collisions, they come from foul balls off the mask of the catcher.”