Chase’s parents were married during the 2009 ALCS, and I missed two games of that series to be a groomsman. Chase was born six weeks ago, and I got the first picture of him while I was on a layover in Minneapolis. Last night, Chase’s father — one of my oldest friends from back home — introduced me to his son, through Skype, during Game 7 of the World Series.
How could I ever forget that?
People ask me all the time whether I still cheer for the Cardinals, and the answer is… well, the answer is complicated.
I grew up in Southeast Missouri, and I honestly can’t think of a single friend from high school who rooted for another team. When my dad taught me about baseball, he taught me about Bob Gibson and Lou Brock and Julian Javier. I remember Jack Buck’s voice more clearly than I remember my grandfather’s.
Covering baseball, though, changes things. The job takes away almost all of the fan experience, and it has to be that way. A reporter can love the game, but he can’t live and die with every pitch, no matter which team is playing. When David Freese tripled in the ninth inning of Game 6, my first thought was of all the running game stories that had just died a horrible death. If the Yankees played a series at Busch Stadium, my job wouldn’t change, I’d just have lunch with old friends before I went to the park.
So, no, I don’t cheer for the Cardinals. Not really.
But last night, two friends sent me a video of their little girl saying, “It’s not cold, it’s Freeeeeesing!” after the Cardinals tied the game in the first inning. A few innings later, little Chase appeared on my computer screen, and I waved at him for the first time. This afternoon, my dad will call, and he’ll tell me all about Chris Carpenter and Allen Craig. He’ll probably tell me all about 1964, too (sorry Yankees fans, but he loved that team).
No, I don’t cheer for the Cardinals any more — not really — but truth be told, I’m glad they won. I’m glad because four of my friends were watching from the seats in right field, and my parents were watching on their television at home, and little Schuyler Anthony was watching from her daddy’s lap while she wore her Cardinals t-shirt and cheered for her favorite third baseman. I’m glad the Cardinals won because Chase Welker got to see it happen.
He might not remember it, but I will. Baseball’s always been good for memories like that.
Associated Press photo