Baseball memories include Cardinals game
During 1994, I was doing part-time work as a sports reporter for
in Paragould. It was a great experience. For the most part, we covered local sports, and there was plenty to write about.
On one occasion in the summer, however, I got to go up to St. Louis and take some photos and write down some notes as the Cardinals took on the Atlanta Braves. During the weekend, the two teams were playing six games in four days, and I arrived on Friday afternoon to see a double-header, which would last well into the night.
But I wasn’t there to write a blow-by-blow description of the game. That was more than adequately provided by the Associated Press and by ESPN. Nope, I was on the field before the game to get some photos that we could perhaps use later, and I felt that I should be able to get a column or two from the experience as well.
In one of those columns, I wrote about the kinship that St. Louis has with Arkansas. I told of how a traveler to St. Louis, if he or she is paying attention, can’t help but realize the city’s Arkansas connections. Most baseball fans understand that Arkansas has always been good Cardinal country, but the ties go much deeper than that.
Many Arkansans have relatives living in the St. Louis area. That’s because many years ago, there was a mass exodus of people moving from Arkansas to St. Louis. They were looking for work. And they found it.
Some would eventually move back to Arkansas like my parents did. Both my mother and my dad grew up in Arkansas but, when they were very young, they went to St. Louis to work, where they met and got married.
A couple of years later I was born. And once they started a family, they felt it was best to get out of the city and move back to Arkansas. That’s their story. But there were many others who stayed.
I was once eating at a small diner in eastern Arkansas where I overheard a man at the next table talking about how “everyone” from Arkansas was moving up to St. Louis in the 1950s. I listened carefully because he was talking about people like my parents.
“If everybody that moved up to St. Louis had stayed in Arkansas,” he said, “there would be a city in the Arkansas delta of about a million people.”
I smiled to myself. But today, while we don’t have a metropolis arising from eastern Arkansas farmland, one can go to St. Louis and find Arkansas connections everywhere.
During my 1994 trip, the waitress who took my order in Lou Brock’s Sports City was one such example. She said she had lived in St. Louis much of her life, but that she likes to get out of the city when she can. One of her favorite places to get away was Cherokee Village, in north-central Arkansas.
George Schroeder, who wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the time, was also in St. Louis that Friday night for the double header. He usually covered the Arkansas Travelers and Arkansas State, but it was the Cardinals that he was covering that evening. In addition, I also met up with a reporter from Stuttgart.
But one of the biggest memories took place before the game, as I was on the field snapping some photos as the Braves took batting practice.
I looked towards the seats and saw a young man with wide eyes looking at the stars on the field. I’ll never forget those eyes. They were innocent, hopeful and pleading.
They belonged to a blond-haired boy who was standing in front of the first-row field boxes at Busch Stadium. He couldn’t have been much more than seven or eight. He would give anything for an autograph.
“Sir,” he said, looking at me on the field. “Could you take this baseball to Dave Justice and see if he’ll sign it?”
“Sorry,” I’m not allowed to do that,” I said. I hated to tell him no.
I hope that the young man eventually got some autographs. If not on that day, then on another.
The magic in his eyes said a lot. There’s nothing quite like baseball.