Ok, I was born and raised bleeding Cardinals red. But what happens to a Cardinals fan when he moves away from St. Louis and has to live in the non-baseball area of Southern California? Well, he moves back home to Cardinals Nation as soon as he can.
On September 5th 1989, I left St. Louis on my first plane ride ever to San Diego for United States Marine Corps boot camp. Baseball was never far from me. The first earthquake I felt in California was related to the October 17, 1989 earthquake that interrupted the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. I didn’t feel it much, but we were stopped at boot camp and they allowed those of us who wanted to, go to the chapel and pray. Baseball could never leave me alone.
I went to the Persian Gulf in August 1990 and ended up on the little island nation of Bahrain just off of the coast of Saudi Arabia. Luckily for me, the Cardinals were not that good as a team for these couple of years. A few months after I came from Operation Desert Shield/Storm, I got to go to a Cardinals game in Dodgers Stadium with a friend. It was an hour or so drive from where I was stationed on MCAS El Toro, California. We knew we couldn’t make the Friday night game so we went to the Saturday July 1st game. Of course, I missed a no hitter pitched by Dodger Fernando Valenzuela by one day.
A girl I was dating in 1992 asked me what I would want for my 21st birthday. I made her pick something. She purchased for me the Sunday Blue Cardinals cap the Cardinals had just started wearing. I hated it, but what could I say. It wasn’t the traditional Cardinals cap. What was she thinking? A few months later, we were no longer dating.
When I met my wife Lyn in the summer of 1993, she was not much of a baseball fan at all. She was only a fan of the Royals back in the day featuring George Brett. Growing up, George Brett did Vess commercials with Ozzie Smith and he always seemed stuck up to me. What was I getting myself into? Fortunately for her and me, I was able to mold her into a more knowledgeable baseball fan over the years and she seems better for it.
Eventually, Lyn and I would take trips to San Diego or Los Angeles whenever the Cardinals were in town over a weekend and see a couple of games. We were even able to get tickets in 1996 to see the Cardinals sweep the Padres for their first playoff series win in 9 years. Those were the days of ‘Baseball Like it Oughta Be’. I remembered being
interviewed before the San Diego game by Channel 11 (or something) and they were shocked by the many Cardinals fans in Southern California. If that game would have been St. Louis, no Padres fan would have been able to get tickets. We were lucky to see the Cardinals celebrate on the field in that series. And I must say, the Padres fans were extremely nice to us and even congratulated us after the game.
In 1998 when Lyn was pregnant with our son, I knew something exciting would happen on 9/8/98. I thought it would be a cool day for Josh to be born, but as all Cardinals fans know, that was the day that Mark McGwire hit homerun #62. I was happy that year that I got to see the Cardinals more on television and I think I got to see Big Mac hit #26 & #27 in San Diego.
For Josh’s first birthday in August of 1999, a friend of ours from my work softball team got Josh a tiny St. Louis Cardinals jersey. Anyone who got a Christmas card from us that year saw that jersey, and then the questions started coming in about when we were moving back to St. Louis. In November of 2000 for me and January of 2001 for Lyn and Josh, we moved back to St. Louis because I took a job opportunity here with the IRS. No, the Cardinals were not the sole reason we moved back, but the love, spirit, and
family feeling that are Cardinals Nation, sure didn’t hurt it.