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Ode to the Cardinals - Redeaux

VEB members since 2006 may recall that this Cardinal fan got lucky when my memories wrote my way into the WSJ with the following article now resubmitted to VEB with an updated final paragraph in honor of the 2011 Champs. Hope you enjoy.

Ode to the Cardinals

By DAVE HINKLE

Special to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

October 20, 2006 12:31 p.m. – <UPDATED JANUARY 2012 IN HONOR OF 2011 CHAMPS>

The WSJ Daily Fix asked readers who are fans of the Cardinals to write an ode to their club, explaining why they're a fan and what characteristics their team seems to have year-in and year-out, even as the cast of characters changes. Here's Dave Hinkle on the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinal baseball is a multi-generational mosaic of love, passion and loyalty. Cardinal baseball is decades of sandlot kids from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas who are now adults in all parts of the world -- and still wearing red. We are Cardinal Nation -- the Sea of Red.

Cardinal baseball is heroes blazing through the record books: Hornsby, Frisch, and Mize, Pepper, Marty, Kenny and Stan the Man. Oh, the splendid memories of Flood, Maxvill, Forsch, Sutter, McGee, Tudor, Worrell, Clark, Rolen, Edmonds, Lankford, Kile and Tommy Herr. Cardinals have captured more titles than any other team except for that nasty team up north that we knocked off in the '64 series.

But Redbird Passion is about more than winning. It's the Gashouse Gang, Birds on a Bat and good ol' Gussie sipping a cold, frosty Budweiser. We're Ernie Hays at the organ, the Wagon Gate and Fred Bird. We're the Clydesdales, the Arch and three Busch Stadiums. We already had Jack Buck, Mike Shannon and 'ol Abner so we gave the world our spares -- Harry Carey, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. We're the hometown of Garagiola, Costas and Berra. Need more proof we're the Kings? We make all the beer. Now, THAT'S a winner!

The Cards are tough, in-your-face competitors like Cox, Stottlemyre and Matheny. We are Gibby pitching on a broken leg and Albert smashing sliders into orbit. We got a Wizard doing backflips. Oh, and for toughness, don't forget we got a Frazier, a Spinks and a shortstop named Mike Tyson.

The Cardinals are speedy and daring -- suicide squeeze, first to third and stealing home. There goes Enos, Lou, Vince, and Bake McBride -- the Calloway Kid. We are loveable super-subs like Lawless, Iorg, Brummer, Tito, Rex and the Secret Weapon.

We are the Mad Hungarian, Silent George, Skates, Mudcat, Simba, Cha Cha and the Zamboni. We got a Rat, a Cat and Harry the Hat. We got a Ducky, a Woody, a Yadi, an Obie, a Stubby, a Nellie and a Belli. We got So, Bo and Little Joe. We got Matty, Moe and Matty Mo. We got Soup, Pags, Hub, Tewks and Uke. We got Ozzie, Izzy, Dizzy and Daffy. We even have the coolest sports name ever -- Julian Javier. (Silent J's please.) We got Coopers, Simmons, Benes, Cedenos, Duncs, Ecks, half the Guerreros, a lot of Perez, a bunch of Penas and most every Cruz that ever wore a glove. We have our very own Reggies -- Smith and Sanders. And they are all happily ours -- Cardinals forever.

We've got a Henke, a Heinkel and me -- just an ordinary Hinkle who started a lifetime love affair when Dad and Grandpa took me to Busch and taught me to keep a scorecard just the way I do now with my son. We watched Torre as a Cardinal -- before he was cool. We launched the 27-team career of Todd Zeile.

We survived Don Denkinger. We're the nicest, most-knowledgeable bunch of baseball fans you'll ever meet. Heck, we even let Lefty, Rollie, Keith, Andy and TP go elsewhere so others could have heroes too.

St. Louis Cardinal baseball is the best. But don't trust my opinion -- ask baseball legends who got some serious Cardinal love at the end of their careers. Roger, Quiz, Lee Arthur, Larry Walker, Sutcliffe the Cub, Eric the Red, Will the Thrill, Berkman and Big Mac. And don't forget - we got Red, Whitey, TLR and now Matheny (not Pat).

This year? Maybe not our best regular season team ever -- but who cares? We played hard nines while the Braves tent collapsed, we watched breathlessly as Holliday beat Halladay, we whipped the obnoxious Brauny Brewers,and then smiled in generational amazement as the Rangers got a double dose angst from Dr. Freese. We got El Hombre, a Torty and a Magic Squirrel. We got Super Carp and no injury from a tarp. We got a Skip and a Scrabble. We got Furky and Double D turning two with ADAM cheering them on. We got a Jaime (another silent J), a Jay (red not blue), some Motte Applesauce and we got us another World Championship! Our Grandmas and Grandpas would be proud. Yes sir, Cardinal fans, we did it again so you can “Go Crazy Folks, Go Crazy” – again.

Viva El Birdos!

Dave Hinkle grew up with a transistor radio under his pillow and Kentucky parents who taught him about the Redbirds, beginning with the 1967 Series against the Red Sox. The transistor is now a momento on the bookcase, but the Hinkles will be gathered around the television again this year. Write to Dave – still at dhinkle@insightbb.com.

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