St. Louis Cardinals: A Father’s Day tribute, bridging the gap

Oct 9, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; A general view of Busch Stadium before game one of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; A general view of Busch Stadium before game one of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

To celebrate this Father’s Day, I’d like to share my story of how the St. Louis Cardinals, if only for one day, brought my father and I closer together.

I’ve always loved the St. Louis Cardinals and this story is very dear to me.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in various hospitals for various health reasons. It pretty much became the norm to fall asleep and wake up in a sterile, white room, as opposed to the comfort and familiarity of my bedroom. While most kids my age were out running around, doing the things kids like to do (playing tag, or hide-and-seek, etc.), I was stuck inside.

However, I didn’t mind. Every day I got to enjoy the one constant in my life: the St. Louis Cardinals.

Common ground

My grandparents raised me. My mother and I had a non-existent relationship. However, my relationship with my father was an interesting case. The health issues I had growing up built a sort of wall between us. My father loved things like the outdoors, working on cars, riding ATVs, and motorcycles. I was a shut-in, by no choice of my own. I couldn’t do the things my father enjoyed, despite always longing to.

For no other reason, I just wanted to have something to connect us, something we could talk about, something we could have in common.

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An olive branch

By the time I was in my early teens, my father and I interacted more. However, there was still awkwardness.

It was the feeling of not really knowing the other person, but, at the same time, desperately wanting to get to know them. We just did not know how to make it happen.

My father, despite being into anything and everything that involved outdoor activity, never was a baseball fan. I, however, despite not being able to do any outdoor activities, was (and still am), a huge baseball fan.

It’s funny how that worked out.

However, one day, he extended an olive branch. I don’t know what inspired my father to do this. Maybe it was the desperation of not being close. Regardless, he knew we had to become closer to each other.

I had just gotten home from school when my father called me. He told me he had tickets to go to a baseball game. My beloved St. Louis Cardinals were set to play the Pittsburgh Pirates at, then year old, Busch Stadium Three. I was so happy. I was not happy because of the game, per say. I had been to a dozen games before this one. I was happy because I was going with my dad.

Baseball and awkward chatter

I remember it being a fairly hot day at the ballpark, as we settled into our seats down the third base line. We arrived just before the start of the game. It was my dad’s first major league game.  Since he wasn’t a fan, I worried he would get bored. I wanted him to enjoy our time together.

As the game got underway, we both began to take in the sights and sounds of the ballpark: the crack of the bat, the music over the PA system, the smell of the different types of food in the air. Yep, it was baseball. The same old game I always loved. However, this game was a bit different than the rest.

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It had to be baseball

As the game went on, the interactions between my father and I became less tense. Awkward jokes, and forced laughter turned into real laughter, and a genuine good time. With every inning, with every pitch, the two of us enjoyed our time together more and more.

We were no longer a distant father and son, trying desperately to be closer to each other. That goal had been accomplished. We had found the thing each of us had been searching for that would close that gap. It was baseball.

Looking back on it now, all I can do is laugh and say, “of course.” Baseball, a storied history of turning no-names into heroes and heroes into villains, is magic. No other game, but baseball, has that kind of magic. No matter what my personal circumstances may have been, from a hospital bed or a wheelchair, baseball was always the same game I always loved and watched every day and night.

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However, this time it did something even I would have assumed to be impossible. It turned two people, almost the exact polar-opposite, into what they had wanted to be all along. We were just a father and son spending time together, enjoying each other’s company. We still don’t have much in common, but that doesn’t matter. Thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals, we have baseball, and more importantly, we have each other.