Growing up in Southeast Missouri, being a Cardinals fan is just a state of being. It’s something you are born into. It’s a way of life; your lifestyle. You never know anything else, it’s simply a label attached to you at birth, much like some people say my family is Catholic or Irish, etc., you are a Cardinals fan. I always think it’s cute when someone finds out where I’m from and asks, “Are you a Cardinals fan?” Like I had a choice!
One of my earliest memories is of the 1982 World Series. I was 3 (I’ll let you do the math) and I can remember setting in the floor and my dad getting excited over the games that season. This was pretty significant because, well, my dad was pretty even all the time, never too excited, or mad, or sad.
He never sat inside to watch TV or read a book. We lived on a farm, so he was working from the time he woke up until he went to bed, stopping only for meals or pouring another cup of coffee.
All of that changed on the nights the Cardinal games were televised. He would get all the chores done early, pour a cup of coffee, and set in the recliner for the duration.
1982 was like a dream come true for Cardinal fans. I know it had to be significant, because remember I was only 3, and I can still remember Tommy Herr played 2nd and the outfielder Lonnie Smith. I remember my mom having a crush on Keith Hernandez (that is until he went to the Mets and it was over) and my dad just smiling and nodding his head at her. And Ozzie, well it’s just Ozzie. Everybody loves Ozzie.
When I started playing third base, Terry Pendleton immediately became my favorite. I couldn’t tell you much about him other than we were somehow comrades based on the position we played. I was devastated when he moved to the Braves, but my grandma patted me on the back and said, “it’s ok, they can be your second favorite,they just will never be able to take the place of the Cards.”
All through elementary, Granny Barb and Grandpa Deb invested in our baseball collection (they had all grandaughters, but that didn’t stop them). We each had our own bag of cards, but my mom always took out Cardinals like Ozzie Smith and Whitie Herzog, and tucked them away in her sock drawer so they would be protected, and if we are being honest she was probably scared our other cousins would convince us to trade.
In high school, our big city excursions usually involved driving up for the game and setting in the cheap seats. We’re talking the seats where you had to squint to see the game, but we didn’t care. We were there and that was all that mattered. And, now that I think about it, probably the only reason we were able to drive to the city was because it was for the Cardinals.
Since moving back to St. Louis, my love and appreciation for the Cards have been rekindled. I love that when I go to my families’ house every TV is tuned into the game because you never know which room you will be in when a big play happens. I love that it is expected on big days for the Cards you are expected to wear Cardinal gear (one of the girls in our office forgot and was forced to print out a Cardinal poster and tape it to her shirt. That’s serious). I love that when I wear my Cardinal shirt out to a restaurant, 90% of the time I get something free.
I love when you show up at a game there are all types of people, coming from different ages and backgrounds and they’re friendly to each other. Somehow, the Cards have forced us all to be together and to like each other. I feel sorry for anyone that shows up that isn’t a Cardinal’s Fan!
I love that Yadi is completely cool and chill, until he’s not. All of the sudden, he gets an excited face like a little kid and you instantly know he’s loving what he’s doing.
I love that when Wainwright was being interviewed, he didn’t brag, or come across as cocky. Instead, he talked about the men of character that are in the clubhouse.
I love that the Cardinals, even if it’s for a small moment makes us all feel like we are part of something great! That is Cardinal Nation.