It’s that time of year again, folks. No, not tax time…though, as a friendly reminder from me to you, next Monday is April 15th – time to get your taxes filed!
Today is the St. Louis Cardinals home opener! Since no one has declared Opening Day a “St. Louisans-Don’t-Have-To-Work Day”, I listened to the festivities on 1120AM KMOX. I know I’m only in my mid-thirties, but listening to games on KMOX really brings me back to being a kid…growing up in central Illinois meant you either watched games on TV or listened to KMOX. I’ve listened to countless games, and never have I been so moved than today.
Stan “The Man” Musial passed away in January of this year. He is synonymous with the Cardinals, and with being a St. Louisan. I work in St. Louis, and drive by Busch Stadium each day. I remember seeing the Stan statue completely surrounded by gifts and tributes to “The Man”, and how touched I was that his family was willing to open up their grieving process to the millions of Cardinal fans around the world.
The Opening Day ceremony started with the entrance of the Clydesdales, then a tribute to Stan. The starting lineup was introduced, then another moment of silence in honor of all those we have lost, including the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last December. I started tearing up with the initial tribute to Stan…and pert near lost it at the end, especially when the National Anthem was played by the Gateway Harmonica Club…Stan was a lifelong member of the club. The Cardinals have always been a classy organization, and it really showed today. They are planning a bigger tribute to Stan at Friday night’s game, and man…I wish I could be there! Does anyone have a pair of tickets they’d like to give me? Anybody?
I actually looked forward to my drive home tonight, knowing that I would be able to look into the stadium as I passed it. Granted, it was a tiny view, and I had to focus on the task at hand – safe driving. But I could smell the food…I could just barely see the fans decked out in red. Attending a home opener is definitely on my bucket list!
Even though the Cardinals lost (okay, “got their butts handed to them in the 9th inning” is more appropriate), it’s still been a great Opening Day for me. Today is the first of many afternoons where I’ll get a peek inside Busch…a peek inside America’s pastime. And right now, I’m watching The Sandlot, probably my second favorite baseball movie ever (A League of Their Own is my absolute favorite movie of all time), remembering when Dad used to take me and Greg to see the Cardinals play in old Busch and how we’d take our gloves, even though there was no way any ball was getting hit that far up…when we used to go to games in Springfield, IL, first Cardinals, then Sultans (the club in town now is the Springfield Sliders, and is part of the Prospect League).
You know, football may be the most popular sport in the country, but baseball will always be America’s pastime. To me, no other sport measures up to it…the history of the game, listening to the play-by-play, the sound of a bat knocking a ball out of the park, the smell of hot dogs and beer… Sitting close is awesome, but I think Alabama had it right when they sang, “There’s nothing like the view from the cheap seats.”