In 1995, I moved to St. Charles, MO for college. It's a western suburb, about 25 miles west of downtown St. Louis and the famous Arch. We had spent the previous three years living in Cairo, Egypt. Before that, we lived outside of Denver, CO. I had no idea I had just moved to a whole new world...Cardinal Nation.
I grew up watching the Denver Broncos and John Elway in his heyday. I learned about football from my mother. Not my father...he could have cared less about any sports at all. To this day, he would rather do just about anything than watch a football or baseball game. So, as a kid in Denver, I learned about the quarterback, off-sides, touchdowns and the "hail Mary" pass from my mother. To this day, I still really love watching football. However, when we lived in Denver, there was no professional baseball team. We went to one baseball game in Colorado...for the Denver Zephyrs. I still have no idea what a Zephyr actually is. It was a minor league team and I have a vague memory of it.
So, when I moved to St. Charles for college, I knew all about football. Not a whole lot about baseball. But, I was quickly introduced to the game because, little did I realize, I'd moved to a city that has a love affair with their baseball team. No kidding.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been in St. Louis for I don't know how many years, dating all the way back to the years of being the St. Louis Browns. When I first began college here, I don't remember caring all that much about baseball. Then Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had their famous Home Run Race, in which McGwire beat out the home run record long held by Roger Maris. I vividly remembe sitting in my dorm room with my roommate, watching the game where he hit number 62. And I, too, fell in love. That was probably the moment I really felt like a resident of Cardinal Nation.
That home run race revived baseball after a strike several years before. And it truly introduced me to the Cardinals and the fact that, as my mother says, "Baseball is genetic...not geographic." My mother, who lives in Cincinnati, still roots for the Cardinals. Her older brother, who has lived in Houston for probably the last 40 years, still roots for and goes to Cardinals' games. Even if the games are in Houston.
Being a Cardinals' fan is inevitable if you live in this town...once it's in your blood, it's there for a lifetime. St. Louis baseball fans are known amongst the sports world as being the best baseball fans around. We have a friendly rivalry with the Chicago Cubs...we'll heckle you in the stands and buy you a beer after the game. Mostly because we know the Cards are a better team. : ) Just kidding. Sortive.
My point is that tonight I'm sitting in my living room with a glass of wine...watching the final game of the regular season. Number 162. As is often par for the course, the Cardinals have kept us watching, kept us biting our nails until the very last moment. In order to make the playoffs, we MUST win this game tonight. And we had to win last night. Which we did...by a lot. 13 to 6. It was fabulous! And tonight, we are leading this game 6 to 0. It's looking good for the St. Louis Cardinals. The other night, I watched the game and listened to all of the chants and cheers of, "Let's go Cardinals!" The applause, the cheers, the hollering, rooting on our Redbirds. The funny thing is, the game was in Houston, not St. Louis. It made me smile as I rememberd that baseball is genetic...not geographic.
For it doesn't matter where you live...once a Cardinal fan, always a Cardinal fan. I love fall...changing colors, falling leaves, cool temperatures. And baseball at its best. And I know that no matter how many addresses I have in my lifetime, I will always count Cardinal Nation among them. Go Cards!