I can't allow the season to end without a final Cardinals post. It was simply amazing to be in the stands with my oldest son (section 369, row 12, seats 19-20), watching something in person that I thought I would never get to see. I never thought I'd have the opportunity even to go to a World Series game; but to go to the clincher was simply amazing. It was quite literally the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
It was a cold night, but Samuel and I were prepared--I had a turtle-neck, fleece sweatshirt, and Cardinals jacket (with fleece lining) on; he wore his thickest winter coat. We bought hot chocolate just as the game began (it was cold by the 4th inning) and were able to stay pretty warm. I had also brought wet gear (rain suit, towels, blankets) in case the rain came back; it had rained hard until about 5pm. But really, it was a beautiful night.
It was interesting to watch my son's interest. It was the first ball game that Samuel had made it all the way through. Usually, we leave after the 6th inning (around 9pm) and listen to the rest of the game on the way back home. However, he was able to stay interested most of the time. I think more than anything he was glad that he was there. Samuel has always enjoyed being with his parents on one-on-one adventures (I took him to Gettysburg when he was 6; he was a delight); and that, in some ways, was as important as the final score.
But when Wainwright struck out Inge to end the game, and everyone was high-fiving and hugging and laughing, it was neat to watch Samuel dance and laugh and high-five as well. I don't know if he really understood the enormity of it all (the first World Championship for the Cardinals since I was 11); but he certainly enjoyed himself like I did. We hugged several times and plugged our ears while the fire works went off right behind our seats.
As for me, I kept hoping that this would finally ignite his love for this game and make this a common interest that we could share. There are other things that he likes that we can like together; but growing up, it was always baseball for me that helped identify me as we changed schools or moved to a new place. And it was always on the mound when I pitched, or reading the sports page, or watching a game that I felt most like myself in those confusing years.
As he has grown up, I've taken him to a number of games--his first game was in July 1998, watching the Phillies and the Marlins in 90 degree heat. He wore a little Phillies jumper and we watched our favorite player, Scott Rolen, play third base for the Phighting Phils. I've taken him to minor league games in Lexington, Kentucky, and Louisville as well as games in Cincinnati. And this past summer, he played baseball himself for the first time (his left-handed swing reminds me of Stan Musial).
Over the past few weeks, perhaps for the first time, I saw inklings of it in my nine-year old boy--Samuel would ask me when he'd come upstairs in the morning if the Cards won; he would check the paper on his own to see the score; and he wore his Cardinals' Albert Pujols tee-shirt a lot. And maybe, just maybe, this might be the season where he would come to love the game in the same way that I do.
All simply because I was there and he was too.