Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Cards' Story

There was quite a post recently over at Viva El Birdos that I just had to respond to.

It's title is "My Cards' story" by chuckb, a Cardinals blogger from Texas, who writes on why he roots for the Cardinals. Despite having never been to St. Louis until 2006.

Some posts generate an awesome response, and this was one of them. So far there are 95 'comments', or should I say, 'stories'.

It's a great read. People from all over the country are responding with their own stories of why they root for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Some were people who grew up in St. Louis.

Some grew up in Missouri or a neighboring state.

Others grew up far away, such as New York or California, but had some connection to the team.

Others grew up that far away, and despite having no connection, somehow chose the Cardinals as their team.

The most common threads? Jack Buck, Harry Caray and the mighty KMOX, of course.

Some follow the team from afar and have only seen them in person when the Cardinals visit a city close by.

Others have never been to St. Louis, let alone Busch Stadium. And yet, they root.

Some are planning to make the trip at some point, as if it were some kind of pilgrimage to aspire to.

But everyone has a story to tell.

Like so many others, I also grew up on what can only be described as the 'front lines' in Central Illinois' baseball war. You either rooted for the Cardinals or the Cubs, and it was as close to a 50-50 distribution as it could probably get. You'd see the occasional White Sox fan, but they were usually just looked upon as a little 'kooky' and ignored.

I received my Cardinals gene from my father, who I think got his from his father. However, my father's mother was a staunch Cubs fan. Most people around here call that a mixed marriage.

My earliest memory of the Cardinals was celebrating the 1967 World Series. I had no idea why I was excited, but I was. From that point on, I liked to pretend to be a Cardinal player for a good part of my childhood.

My mother's side was also a mixture of Cubs and Cardinals. Her father was for the Cubs and one of her brothers is a Cardinals fan.

I just thought of can't spell Cubs without "bs".

Anyway, I think the close proximity of a hated rival makes one's rooting interest exponentially greater at a younger age.

And I needed that edginess in my neighorhood. It was lopsidedly Cub-ly.

My brother, my only brother, went over to the dark side when he was too young to know better. It's a tragic happenstance, for he wound up rooting for the Cubs. He also ended up a Cleveland Browns fan, which to this date I don't quite get. But I digress. I'll save that for another post.

I blame this on my neighborhood. All of our closest friends were Cubs fans. The influence must have been too much for him. Either that or he got too close to somebody one day and caught his Cub fan-ness like one would catch a virus.

Thankfully, the illness never infected me.

As a result, very few holidays go by without some partisan baseball smack. Fortunately for those of us on the right side of the universe, 10 championships always trumps 0 championships in the past 100 years, so we have yet to lose any argument with a Cubs fan.

My wife, Lucy, is fortunately for the Cardinals, as is my oldest son, Angus. The young one is too young to care yet, although he has developed a fondness for Jim Rome Is Burning and "foo-ball", which seems to be his favorite word right now.

There's nothing like peace at home.

In closing, just let me say this regarding my rooting interest. Although I love the Cardinals, there is a line I do draw in regards to how far I'll go in my fanaticism...

I would never, ever, do this, lest I be nominated for "Idiot of the Week."


  1. I am a Browns fan and Mr. BTEG is a Steelers fan. Talk about your mixed marriages.

    I think there will be a special place in heaven for Browns and Indians fans. Goodness knows we deserve something. :)

  2. Barb!

    I'm sure you have to watch Browns-Steelers games in different rooms.

    Surely, SURELY, you'll win it all one of these years. Right?

  3. "Maybe next year" ought to be the motto of the city of Cleveland.

  4. Your tale is well told. I think many central Illinois Cardinal fans that now find themselves to be "of a certain age" have a kind of a "Cardinal timeline" if you will, that illuminates certain periods in their lives.

    My earliest Cardinal memories were around 1963, when I was six years old. Pretending to be Tarzan and Jane in the backyard with my friends, jumping from the lowest limb of the tree to the propane tank below, beating our chests and trying to mimic that yell we saw on "The Early Show" afternoon movie. Mom offering us all grape Kool-Aid as we sat on the back porch while my Dad worked in the yard; the old AM transistor radio next to me, dialed to KMOX. Harry Caray and Jack Buck calling the plays. The look on my Dad's face when the Cardinals scored a run. It was like magic.

    Going to my first Cardinal game with my first serious boyfriend. Eighteen years old and fascinated by the beauty of the stadium, of being in such a big city when I was so used to living in a small town. Trying to pay attention while my boyfriend made serious attempts to teach me how to score "the right way" on a score card and thinking that it seemed really important that one know how to do this, but not really understanding why.

    Taking my daughters to their first game when they were six and eight. Wanting to pass on this tradition, this common bond that seemed to tie generations of our family together, and seeing that they were more interested in cotton candy and foam fingers than in who was on base.

    Fast forward to memories of June of 2000. My father passes away. His loss leaves me so terribly sad, and yet comforted by knowing that after 28 years of being apart, he and my mother are finally together again in Heaven. I am going through his cherished possessions, a lifetime of pictures and treasures that had had little monetary value, but meant so much to him. And in the middle of it all, I find his Cardinal cap. I hug it to my chest and I cry. It smells of Old Spice, and I can hear his laughter.

    Last summer I took my eleven year old granddaughter with me to her first Cardinal game. It was the new stadium, and I told her stories of all the times her grandpa and I had taken her mother to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals play. She was more excited than I think I have ever seen her. The sun was shining, and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs was everywhere. As the first pitch was thrown, I looked down at her face. She looked up at me, and smiled, and she was wearing my Dad's old Cardinal ball cap. He was right there with us, and everything was perfect.

  5. Anonymous!

    Well done. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Scottius!

    Don't dress like that, and my Idiot of the Week blog won't get anywhere near you. :-)