Pandemic forces Cincinnati Reds fan to miss first Opening Day in 53 years

Posted at 9:44 AM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 19:26:40-04

CINCINNATI — Jon Elmlinger hasn’t missed an Opening Day in 53 years.

Although the longtime Cincinnati Reds fan can’t be in the stands Friday evening, he’s still celebrating his hometown team.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted officials to prohibit spectators at Great American Ball Park this season. The team intends to submit a plan to allow 20% normal capacity at the ballpark, but nothing has been finalized yet.

Still, Elmlinger says Opening Day is like a holiday for him. The 65-year-old is part of an exclusive baseball club made up of fans who have never missed an Opening Day.

This year is the first Opening Day Elmlinger has missed since 1967.

“If the Reds would let me, I'd be in the stadium,” he said.

Baseball in 2020 will go down in history as the year the stands went silent. While Elmlinger’s attendance record may be broken, his spirit is not.

“My son and I already talked about it. We are gonna sit in the basement, drink some beers, eat peanuts like we would at any normal Opening Day,” he said.