Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, known as the "Wizard of Oz" for his great defensive plays, wants the federal government to make MLB Opening Day a national holiday, according to the Associated Press.
Smith announced the initiative on Tuesday. He has partnered with St. Louis-based Budweiser to get a petition to the White House before the first full day of the regular season, March 31, according to MLB.com.
From the MLB.com report: "At least 100,000 signatures from fans 21 or older are required within 30 days in order to ensure that the petition receives an administration review and response. The petition launched on Tuesday and can be signed by visiting either WhiteHouse.gov or www.Budweiser.com/OpeningDay. Within eight hours of being posted, the petition was already nearing 7,000 signatures."
The 58-year-old Smith was a 13-time Gold Glove winner who is working as a guest instructor for the Cardinals during spring training.
"There are 22 million people who have, some point in time, played hooky from work or school, so it's already an unofficial holiday," Smith said. "We're just trying to make it an official holiday by getting those 100,000 signatures so I can march them up to the front of the White House."
A career .262 hitter with 580 steals, Smith played for the Padres from 1978-81 before spending the next 15 years in St. Louis. The 15-time All Star 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 InBev, Budweiser's parent company, said 10 percent of respondents to a survey they conducted admitted they've skipped work to attend or watch an MLB opening, the AP reports. SI WIRE: Padres Chase Headley out 2-3 weeks with calf strain