Free baseball is usually a term associated with a game that lasts extra innings.

The Oakland Athletics are taking it a step further in 2018 - offering a regularly scheduled game that's free for all fans.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of their first game at the Coliseum, the A's will charge no admission to their April 17 game against the Chicago White Sox.

With the Raiders and Warriors both moving from Oakland by the end of the decade, the A's have been stepping up their fan-friendly initiatives and building upon a new brand - "Rooted in Oakland."

The free game - on a Tuesday evening - is certainly a step in that direction, generating goodwill among a jaded fan populace and, possibly, ingratiating themselves further to local officials as they seek a new ballpark in Oakland.

The 2018 Major League Baseball season will begin on March 29, the earliest start in the sport's history excluding international openers.

All teams will play on opening day for the first time since 1968, the last year before the American and National Leagues split into divisions, the commissioner's office said Tuesday.

As part of the sport's new labor contract, each team's 162 games were scheduled over 186 days, up from 183. The change was made to create more off days.

Previously, the earliest start except for international games was March 30 in 2003, 2008 and 2014. This will be just the 12th season to start on a Thursday following 1901-04, 1907, 1912, 1959, 1973-74, 1976 and 2011.

Pittsburgh at Detroit is the lone interleague opener. The AL schedule has Minnesota at Baltimore, the Chicago White Sox at Kansas City, the Los Angeles Angels at Oakland, Cleveland at Seattle, Houston at Texas, Boston at Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees at Toronto.

The NL schedule has Colorado at Arizona, Philadelphia at Atlanta, Washington at Cincinnati, San Francisco at the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs at Miami, St. Louis at the New York Mets and Milwaukee at San Diego.

Interleague matchups during the season include the AL East playing the NL East, the AL Central facing the NL Central and the AL West meeting NL West.

The All-Star Game is July 17 at the Nationals, and the regular season is scheduled to end Sept. 30.
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