Friday, July 29, 2011

My Kind of Sports Town

Let’s talk sports. Particularly baseball, but maybe hockey as well. Born and raised in St. Louis, membership in Cardinal Nation is pretty much automatic; you just have to love the “Birds on the Bat.” Frankly, I could not see myself as anything other than a fan of the Redbirds. When I was younger, there was the chance we would move to Kansas City and Milwaukee, respectively, for my dad’s work. Thankfully, that never happened. Royals? Brewers? Yuck. I love being a Cardinals fan – the great teams and players, the storied history and championships. This is the city of The Rajah, Dizzy, Ducky, The Man and Gibby. Damn the Yankees, and their Babe, Clipper, Mick, Chairman and Mr. October. (Sports certainly has its nicknames!)

I was also lucky as a kid. I had two parents – originally from New York – who were baseball fans. Dad, though growing up in the heart of New York City, became a Red Sox fan, while mom rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in opposition to her Yankee-loving father. Of course, all three hated the cross-town Giants – a familial sentiment that still exists. As the stories go, grandpa, Yankee fan or not, always enjoyed attending a baseball game whenever his travels brought him to St. Louis. Fenway, Ebbets Field and Sportsman’s Park…now that’s old school tradition!

Starting in 1967, when the Blues joined the National Hockey League, St. Louis also became the home of Red, The Battling Plagers, Bernie, The Golden Brett and Big Mac. (There it is again, with the nicknames.) Unfortunately, my dad was a football and baseball guy. Frankly, despite being an accomplished ice skater and growing up near an “Original Six” team in the New York Rangers, I don’t think he understood hockey – at least, to the point of being able to pass any knowledge on to his children, like he could with football, baseball and even skating – and thus never developed an interest in it. Consequently, I turned to hockey on my own in my early teen years.

Depending on the month and/or post-season situation, a St. Louisan can attend a baseball game in the afternoon and a hockey game later in the evening. What other cities can provide that kind of sports entertainment? A few, but your main choice of poison is New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago or Boston. Or boast of legendary broadcasters like the late Jack Buck and the late Dan Kelly, who at one point in their careers did play-by-play for both teams. The mere mention of the name Buck or Kelly conjures only one of two things:  Cardinals baseball or Blues hockey.

Thanks, but I’ll stay in St. Louis – it’s my kind of sports town.

©2011 Steve Sagarra

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