My earliest memories of baseball are centered around large family road trips to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play.
My Grandpa had an obvious youthful love for the game. He shared our excitement when Ozzie back-flipped to his position at shortstop, or when Willie McGee came to bat. My Grandma on the other hand had an obvious youthful love for ballpark food. I remember us spending an inordinate amount of time running back and forth between our seats and the concession stands in a futile attempt to try every item they had to offer; “You like peanuts? Let’s get some peanuts. We’re going to get peanuts. You like pretzels? Let’s get a pretzel. How about ice cream? Crackerjacks? Hot dogs?…”
I suppose I inherited both passions.
Somewhere along the way I fell out of love with baseball though. Maybe it was the strike. Maybe it was before that. I’m not sure, and I’m not sure that it even matters now. But several years passed between the exuberant excitement of catching a game with my Grandparents and my reintroduction to the sport, which came in 1998. One of the first dates I went on with the lady that now calls me her husband (among other things) was a Cardinals Home Opener. That’s right. I wasn’t a baseball fan, but she was! So much for gender roles, huh? And I’m not talking about a casual fan either. No, she was die-hard! I will admit however that I didn’t find the player’s “tight white pants” nearly as intriguing as she did. (Darn you Jim Edmonds!)
It was just coincidence that my reintroduction happened to be the same year as the historic Home-Run record chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And if that race didn’t excite you, someone should’ve checked you for a pulse! I was hooked almost instantly. We followed it religiously, watched the games on TV, and went to Busch several times. Later that year, but before the season was over, we were married. I guess I fell in love with my wife, and back in love with baseball almost simultaneously. I’m sure there’s some sort of bizarre correlation but I’m not sure what it would be.
One thing that my wife always did back then was to assemble a Cardinals team set of baseball cards each year and arrange them in a series of binders that she kept in her closet. Naturally, I started helping her. One thing led to another and suddenly I’m the one addicted to the hobby.
My name is Scott, and I’m a card collector!
Years later, after Grandpa passed away and Grandma moved into an assisted living facility, while cleaning out their house my Dad found a stack of old cards in his dresser drawer. None of us knew he had any cards at all until that moment. So he gathered them all up and gave them to me. They’re pretty random and probably not worth much, just some of the players that he liked. But to me they’re priceless. I now have several things that belonged to my grandparents; dishes, steins, hats. But it just makes sense that the ones that mean the most to me are a handful of old baseball cards and a stadium full of memories.