October 8, 2010

Baseball is always with us

The latest entry to the question Why do you love baseball? comes to us from a transplanted Cardinals fan.

It's simple, really. Baseball has always been with me, everywhere I go.

A little history: I come from a family of fans. My mom made me a fan, too. Born in 1937, she was just old enough to know who Jackie Robinson was when he made his major league debut ten years later and why he was so important.

She remembers the family sitting around the radio (Cardinal games were broadcast on KMOX then; the mighty St. Louis station could be heard all the way to Nebraska on clear nights), listening to the announcer call the Brooklyn Dodgers-Cardinals games. She remembers; as she grew up, the sense of pride that she felt in Robinson's accomplishments, the way he held himself, and the way he performed on the field.

She wept when he died. That, I remember vividly.

My own love affair with baseball has been a slow-burning one. As a kid growing up in St. Louis; listening to baseball or thinking about it, was just something you did: throw some catch in the backyard, play pick-up games in the park down the street, do homework while listening to Jack Buck call Cardinals games on the radio ("And that's a winner!").

My favorite player was Lou Brock; I used to hold my breath, wondering if he would steal home this time or catch that line drive down the line. My fondest memory; in fact, is the day he WAVED TO ME because I kept screaming his name from the bleachers during warm-ups. I don't remember who won that day, but man... Lou Brock waved to me! How ya like me NOW??

Sure, St. Louis had the football Cardinals (at least temporarily) and the NBA's Hawks (at least temporarily) and they still have the NHL's Blues, but none of them had a hold on our city the way the Redbirds did. Still don't. In fact, if you referred to "Redbirds" in the 1970s and 1980s, it was pretty much understood that you were talking about the baseball team. You didn't have to clarify.

My mom went to the World Series in 1967 and 1968 and her favorite player was Bob Gibson... that is until Willie McGee showed up and then she "adopted" him.

Another story: I was in Air Force basic training in 1982, the year the Redbirds played the Brewers in the World Series. After the Cardinals beat the Brewers in seven games, my terminally dyspeptic drill instructor called me into his office and yelled at me because he'd bet on the Brewers and it was somehow my fault that they'd lost. All I could do was apologize for my team winning the Series. Go figure.

Even now, having lived in Los Angeles for almost thirty years, I'm still a Cardinals fan. I'm also a fan of the Angels for sure, but man, the Cardinals? That's where it's at.

Submitted by
Terry Dickerson
Redondo Beach, CA

The idea that baseball has always been with Terry reminds me of a James Taylor song for some reason...

I close my eyes at night
Wondering where would I be without you in my life
Everything I did was just a bore
Everywhere I went it seems I'd been there before
But you brighten up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet in so many ways
I want to stop and thank you baseball
I just want to stop and thank you baby (woah, yeah)

How sweet it is to be loved by you (it's just like sugar sometimes)
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I guess his post reminds me of that song because baseball is game that when you love, it actually loves you back. Thanks Terry. That song is going to be in my head all day now.

1 comment:

  1. I also learned to love baseball watching and listening to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals were implanted in the city the same way the Cubs are in Chicago. It was a different time when baseball was part of the American fabric and still was the National Pastime. Harry Carey and Jack Buck were part of my life, Stan Musial was a legend and Bob Gibson was king.