What is below the pits? This can’t get much worse. I feel like I’m living on Elm Street. I’m so far down I can’t even see the underside of the bottom of the barrel! And there is not an end in sight. Not one ray of sunlight….
I feel chained to the brick wall in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cast of Amontillado.” I’m up to my neck in Macbeth’s boiling cauldron. I can hear those three witches chanting, “Double, double, toil and trouble.” It’s like Scotty is trying to “beam me up” but I’ve got one foot that won’t leave the alien space ship.
Nothing I eat tastes good. Cathy looks less pretty than I’ve ever seen her. The cat won’t come near me. I haven’t slept in weeks. It’s raining on me every second of every day while the sun shines on everyone else….
My beloved St. Louis Cardinals are 0 for June. They haven’t won a baseball game this month! They were horrible in May. And even worse in April! They are stinking up major league baseball. And slowly drilling ten penny nails into my eyeball sockets one lose at a time!
And if you say “it’s just a game” I’m going to find out where you live and I’m coming after you!
I don’t ever remember not being a St. Louis Cardinal Baseball fan. Daddy was. My older brother was. Mom even listened to the games with us. I’d lie on that braided rug in the living room in front of our big, upright Zenith radio and hang on every word the announcers were saying.
I was three or four years old….but I cheered when Enos Slaughter made a running catch in the outfield or Stan “The Man” Musial hit a home run over the Longines watch sign in right center. There was no TV of course. And we had no place to go. And not a whole lot to do….and not much to do it with.
The Cardinals, via that old Zenith, came to visit us. They thrilled us. They entertained us. They gave us something to be passionate about. They filled us with hope.
And let’s be gut level honest here, passion and hope did not always abound way out at the end of Stonewall Street.
That single solitary baseball team took ordinary, routine, commonplace, humdrum and flipped it into some of the happiest times to be on earth…. For me! For my family! For my closest friends! For a whole town!
When I was seven I went to my first game in St. Louis. It is, still to this day, the greenest grass I have ever seen! The sky was so blue it hurt my eyes. In his first ever “at bat” with me in the ballpark, Stan hit one off the screen in right for one of his 725 lifetime doubles. As he dusted himself off after the slide into second, he looked up in my direction, like he was saying, “I’ve been waiting on you kid.”
I asked, “Is this Heaven?” way before that “Field of Dreams” guy got hold of it.
Stan Musial was “The Man” in every respect. And he still “shines” in the heart of every true Cardinals fan.
Some Saturdays I wouldn’t go to the Park Theatre matinee until after the Cards’ game was over. If a friend invited me to their house I’d asked about their radio signal right off. I would not, under any circumstances, date a girl that was not a Cardinals geek.
The Cards also got me into the newspaper business. I would sit down every morning with the Memphis Commercial Appeal and read every word about every game from the preceding day. And then I would double check what I had just read in the afternoon addition of the Nashville Banner.
It was sometimes hard being a Cardinals fan in the 1950’s. They didn’t win all the time. But they were never horrible. We just always needed a bona fide pitcher and one more hitter to help Stan….
But I never wavered because it was never “just a game.” It was a treasured gift….a passion of a lifetime! And don’t forget the hope that springs eternal!
That is why I’m out of sorts today. 2023 was supposed to be our year! St. Louis was predicted by the experts to win the division and get to the World Series. I was like a little kid again….
Until we didn’t win. And didn’t win….and are now 0 for June!
We need to dig up Stan. I think that’s our only chance. I know he would be 103 years old. But if we could just get him propped up in the batter’s box….
We’ve still got the passion. Stan would give us Cardinals fans the hope….just like he always did!