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Some welcome springtime for its flowering trees, chirping birds and melting snow. For others, the season has one purpose, and that purpose is baseball. Every year around the beginning of April, the grass is groomed, the hot dog buns are replenished and the crowds return for another season of Major League Baseball.
Not only were heads of state and stars of Hollywood staples at the festivities—but so, too, were LIFE Magazine’s photographers. As anticipation builds for this year’s opening day on April 3, here are those photographers’ greatest images of the perennial excitement the season opener brings.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.