Every spring fans all around the United States get geared up for a summer filled with home runs, double plays and stolen bases. Here’s why this writer loves America’s game, and especially Cardinals’ baseball.
“World Series…Bottom of the 9th…two outs with a runner on first…we’re down by one…”
I can remember those thoughts running through my head as a kid while playing sandlot ball. My dream in those days was the same as most other boys my age. I wanted to play baseball.
It was hard not to love America’s Game. Growing up in St. Louis I was surrounded by a rich baseball heritage. I lived a stone’s throw away from the Hill in South City. Home to greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola.
My neighbor was Yogi Berra’s niece. I remember my jaw dropping open when I learned that. To think, I might have played on some of the same diamonds as some of the greats.
My city was and still is home to one of the greatest Major League franchises of all time, the St. Louis Cardinals. I was born into a baseball family, in a baseball town, during one of the great runs in Cardinals history.
The Cardinals won the World Series when I was just a year old in 1982. I was just old enough to enjoy Whitey Ball when they returned in 1985 and 1987, even though they lost. I suffered through the 90’s and have enjoyed the last two decades.
I fell in love with a team and a game that would become a life long obsession for me. Seizing every opportunity to run to the ball fields I would imagine I was a slick fielding Ozzie Smith, fleet footed Vince Coleman, or great all around players Ray Lankford and Willie McGee.
Those were my favorite players on my favorite team. I wanted to be like all of them. And that is what baseball brings every year. It brings hope and memories. Baseball creates a connection with past, present, and future in a way that few things can.
This wonderful game was passed on to me by my father who had it passed on to him by my grandfather who has since passed away. I can remember watching games and talking ball with my grandpa. I still miss it.
The love of this game and for this team is a love that I now pass on to my own children. My oldest son was nearly a year old when the Cardinals won it all in 2006. We cheered together again in 2011.
And so the cycle begins again. He cried his eyes out when Albert Pujols left for Los Angeles. He loves this team like I do. This is what being a Cardinal fan is like. It runs in the family. It’s in our blood.
Every spring I count down the days until Opening Day. The smell of the grass and the leather of my glove takes me back. The feel of the ball in my hand or the way the bat feels when you know it has connected is unlike anything else.
This is what it means to be a Cardinal fan. You don’t just enjoy baseball. You don’t just like it. You live, breathe, eat, sleep, dream baseball. In my family, Cardinals baseball runs deep in our roots. I don’t just love this game, I bleed Redbird. Here’s to a great season Cardinal Nation. Go Cardinals!