Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, or so the saying goes. It’s definitely our favorite professional sport to watch and to follow, and if you consider watching live sports a pastime, then yes, it’s one of our favorites. Besides entertainment, many people (including us) associate baseball with tradition: whether a civic traction or a family tradition, a baseball team often provides fans with a link to the past, and a point of long-standing pride. We are fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, and, considering our long-time location, fairly distant from St. Louis in South Louisiana, our choice is actually more reliant on tradition than anything else.
We actually have ties to the Cardinals within each of our families. On Jeremy’s side, Cardinals fandom began with his grandfather in the 1950s (At least that’s as far back as we can verify it. Papaw has passed and is thus unavailable for comment). Back before television was widely available, most people listened to the radio for entertainment, and in places like rural north Louisiana, that meant AM radio. Jeremy’s Papaw used to catch KMOX-AM all the way from St. Louis and would frequently listen to games. Jeremy’s father often speaks fondly if his memories of drifting off to sleep at night to the sound of the Cardinals game on the radio in the next room. On Addie’s side, her mother and step-father live three hours south of St. Louis, and her step-father Mel was born and raised in Missouri, so of course he grew up a Cardinals fan. He recalls attending Cardinals games as a child with his Boy Scout troop.
Since both of our families had established traditions with the Cardinals (more than any other sports team, actually, though Jeremy’s Uncle Joe, a quirky man, was an avid Cowboys fan), it made sense for us to carry them on. Besides, the only other teams geographically closer to our home in New Orleans are teams in Texas (Astros, Rangers) and the Braves in Atlanta. Since New Orleans and New Orleanians seem to be at odds with anything in Texas or Atlanta, we thought it best to avoid those teams so we settled into our birthrights as Cardinals fans. We came to baseball late in life, though: it wasn’t until the 2011 that we began to watch and follow the sport. New Orleans is a football town, but we were slowly growing disillusioned with football and its accompanying over-commercialized cultures of violence and endless drama. We turned to baseball, which seems to have worked most of its drama out in the 1990s, to return to simpler, perhaps even more thoughtful, times. For us, it was a chance to dig into a meaningful sport with a long history and long season. From March to nearly November, we could follow along with a sport and a team that we cared about. In the end, it was almost too easy for us to invest our time, attention, and emotions into baseball.
The Cardinals have a tradition and a way of doing things known to many as the Cardinal Way. It’s about excellence and team building and making sure that the organization is strong from top to bottom. We thrived under the leadership of our last manager Tony La Russa, and so far we’re faring well under Mike Matheny. And while success is important to us as fans, nothing is more important than watching the game played well. We enjoy the slow pace and the deliberateness of baseball. We like that we can be as highly or minimally invested in any one game as we want to be. We like that baseball is more about the team than the one all-star player.
In an era where traditions aren’t as highly regarded as they once were, it’s great to see baseball still so popular in our country. More people attend Major League Baseball games than any other professional sport (having 162 games scheduled in each team’s season lends itself well to that). Baseball touches the lives of many people: it’s been a part of family tradition and childhood memories for generations. Though many deride its “slow moving” pace, the sounds of the game, the strategies and methods of playing, and the unique feeling of spending time in a ballpark, in front of the TV, or by the radio experiencing a baseball game still manages to remain relevant to millions of people. Whatever team you follow, what’s important is that feeling, that experience – the love of the game.