When and why did you start following the Cardinals?
Ahead of visiting the States for the first time in 2011, my then-girlfriend (American) said, “you should learn a bit about baseball; my family are fairly obsessed, and we will probably watch a couple of games while we are there.”
I joked around about supporting nearly all the clubs during my research, but there were only really two options – the Chicago Cubs (her team) or the St Louis Cardinals (the rest of her family’s team).
A couple of days later, the Cardinals were playing the Cincinnati Reds on ESPN America when I got home late one night. I watched, intrigued by this foreign game and the power of Matt Holliday that day. At this point, I could have still been a Cubs fan, though.
The next day I had an all-night essay crisis and put MLB At Bat on my second screen for a bit of light entertainment. I got more and more dragged into what was happening on that screen as the night went on… as the Redbirds pulled back from an 8-0 deficit to tie the game in the ninth. They lost in the 13th, but I was hooked… and parked my flag in the Cardinals camp.
Within a week, the At Bat graphics weren’t enough anymore, and I subscribed to the radio feed. I remember a night running with excitement in the summer rain listening to KMOX on my phone – I listened to it everywhere, learning more and more about the game.
Anyway, by the time we landed in the States (maybe six weeks after that initial conversation), I was completely obsessed with the game and the Cardinals.
Who’s your all-time favourite Cardinals player, and why?
Can I have two? One: Chris Carpenter. He was such a great competitor with aggression and passion on the mound. The elimination game in the NLDS 2011 against the Phillies is the only time sports have made me cry. We’d got a run during the first inning against the brilliant Roy Halladay, and he wasn’t going to give us another. There was so much tension as Carpenter pitched nine shutout innings for the win. Magic!
Two: Yadier Molina. Yadi has been there throughout my fandom (till this year) and embodied the team for me. The clutch hits, the orchestration of the game, the way no one ran on Yadier Molina – I totally understand why fans of other NL Central teams can’t stand him – he was such a great competitor for us! It still doesn’t really compute that he’s not in the lineup each day (I even had to change parts of this paragraph to past tense).
What are some of your favourite things about St Louis?
It’s the Midwest; the people are super friendly. The BBQ is great. The Arch. I like the opulence of Union Station and the Cathedral Basilica. There’s a penguin at the city zoo that bit Newt Gingrich!
But above all, the Cardinals! I’ve visited Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington, Kansas City, Philly etc. and also watched football throughout Europe. But there is simply no other city where a sports team is so synonymous with it. It seems like every lamppost in St Louis has a banner for one of its sport stars. People are in Cardinals’ caps everywhere. They just really love baseball there!
Photo Credit: MLB UK Community
Tell us about your involvement with the MLB fan community in the UK
I’ve been going to the watch party meet-ups in London since they began. Baseball fans in the UK are a small but knowledgeable group. I love the way the meet-ups bring together fans of all the different teams – the colour of all the different jerseys and the enthusiasm for teams big and small makes for a fun evening. I encourage others to give it a go.
What are you most looking forward to about the London Series?
It’s not just that the Cardinals are in London – and I’m super excited to meet Cardinals fans and share my love of the game – it’s also that the Cardinals are playing the Cubs in London! It’s just such a great rivalry. My first live game was the Cubs-Cards at Wrigley Field; I remember being told to go to the back of the ‘L’ after the game, but also how you could see the rivalry bringing people together across family lines in the stands and just the extra energy this game brings. We will enjoy a laugh and a joke at each other’s expense but then doff our caps to each other as storied franchises with a rich history in the game and in this rivalry.
Scott Seamons is a guest contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @ScottSeamons