Daddy's Christmas Angel

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Being a Baseball Fanatic

Mark McGuire signing for me

 "You're just a baseball fanatic," my mother used to tell me.

She was right. As a 10-year-old, my love for the St. Louis Cardinals began, and it has never ended. Over the years, I followed the team with Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, and Red Schoendienst, listening to late night radio as the signal bounced cross-country from KMOX, the voice of St. Louis. I dreamed of studying journalism at Washington University because I truly wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to be in St. Louis.

But life took its own turns. I kept listening to and watching the Cardinals, but I also graduated from high school and college (not in St. Louis), had a family, played tennis all day long every day during the summer months and almost forgot about baseball.

But not quite. 

At the end of the 20th Century and in the beginning of the 21st, my passion for the sport elevated almost to fanatical once more. Perhaps it grew because I started following Mark McGuire's home run record chase in 1998. I remember watching "Big Mac" approach breaking the record while we were barricaded in a room in a scary part of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were stranded in the city during a holiday when all the rooms were taken. We eventually found a room in a hotel unlike anyplace we ever stayed before. What a calming relief to get to see my team play with so much on the line for Mark McGuire.

Tony La Russa at manager's party
Not long after that, we discovered baseball spring training in Florida. It was a joy to see players up close, chat with them, watch games, and attend the manager's party arranged following selected games at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. That was a dream come true. In the photo, I became the little 10-year-old girl again in 2007 during spring training following the team's World Championship victory in the 2006 World Series.

That spring training was one of a series we have attended every year. Next February, I hope COVID-19 will not put an end to the unbroken string of years in Jupiter.

This year's World Series ended last week. Soon after, Tony La Russa, Cardinals Hall of Fame manager for many years,  came out of retirement and signed as manager of the Chicago White Sox. That was the team where he started his managerial career many years ago. I began remembering past times and longing for spring training to begin. 

Then, I became concerned the team will not look the same. Cardinal catcher Yadi Molina might not be there. 

If that happens, the little girl in me will be sad. But as in all things, baseball teams change. And I will still be a fanatic. Even in late fall and winter.

TV announcer Al Hrabosky, Yadi Molina (middle)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hopefully you will be able to attend spring training next year. Just be prepared in case it's a closed event though.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

I am hoping, Alex, but as the time draws closer, I worry more that all will be closed to viewers.