Archives for posts with tag: st. louis

I’ve always been a Cardinals fan. Being born in St. Louis, I grew up idolizing Ozzie Smith and agreeing with the rest of the city that we had the best fans in baseball. I believed this to be true mainly because we weren’t hated by half the country like our friends in New York and Boston, and we also weren’t horrendous like our unfortunate rivals in Chicago. But it wasn’t until last Monday that I actually witnessed why STL has some of the best fans in baseball.

Nick and I used our friend Erin’s season tickets and took our seat in right field a few minutes before the first pitch against the Nationals. Erin had told us there was a lady named Karen who had the season tickets next to them, who came to every game and is probably the biggest fan around. Even though I’ve sat in these same seats twice before, I’ve never been able to meet her. That night, I noticed Karen’s seats were again empty, but this time there was a big ribbon tied to the railing in front of her seats. Not thinking much of it, we turned to watch the start of what would become a six-game winning streak.

It wasn’t until about the 2nd inning that one of the vendors approached us asking if we were friends of Karen’s. We explained that we weren’t, but we had heard a lot about her. She continued to explain that the ribbon was put there in honor of Karen – that Karen had lost her battle to cancer two days ago.

Each inning that went by, a different vendor would approach us, asking the same question,”Did you guys know Karen too?”

For the rest of the game we listened to at least ten different people talk about Karen and how great of a person she was, especially how great a fan she was. We learned that she had sat in these seats since day 1 of the new stadium. We learned that she would bring her rally squirrels, and always hang up the 2006 pennant on the railing. We learned that she was such a loyal fan, that she would sometimes schedule her work week around the Cardinals schedule, making sure to only be working when the Cardinals were either away, or off for the night. One man from a few sections over even came over and pulled out two pieces of paper – one of a picture of him and Karen at a baseball game, and another of an email she had wrote raving about how having dinner w/ Whitey Herzog was one of the best nights of her life.

Whether it was the beer man, the cotton candy lady, or the usher from the next section over, tons of people were affected by Karen’s passing. She hardly ever missed a game, and would sometimes even travel to see them play. She was loyal to her redbirds, and in turn she made a positive impact on those around her.

Cardinal nation lost one of their best fans last week, and it breaks my heart to think she won’t be in her seat to watch the Cards go after yet another World Series.

But what was truly remarkable was witnessing our section coming together to remember one of their own. And to me, that’s what makes us the best fans in baseball. That’s what makes us champions.

So this week I’m making the move to the midwest. St. Louis, Missouri. Home to the best sports fans in the country, the arch, Anheuser-Busch, countless casinos, and about 65 of my relatives. I’ll be living downtown in my very own artist loft. Yes, the place where people potentially throw paint up on the walls, drink a bunch of wine and talk about how fascinating and expressive it is. And I say ‘potentially’ not because that… doesn’t really happen… I say it because I’m not quite sure about the rules and limitations of the apartment complex yet :)

Regardless, I am nothing less than ecstatic to soon be living in a new city, and can’t wait for all the exciting adventures ahead.

But with that said, it is also kind of bittersweet to be leaving Virginia, where I have spent the last 17 years of my life. I’ll be leaving the city that is home to many of my nearest and dearest friends…. aka all those childhood friends and parents who stood by me through ALL the awkward hair styles and through all of my ridiculous fashion decisions (a 1st grader in tims and a huge Tigger sweatshirt, seriously guys?).

Richmond is where I learned all of the important stuff. Like, that turkey sandwiches taste way better with Doritos in-between the bread. Or that getting dropped off by your mom in HS was wayyyyy cooler than having to ride that dreadful yellow bus (But if you did have to take the bus for some reason, that you made sure to stand, not sit, in the back of the bus). Richmond is where I learned how to play kick the can, manhunt, and Last Chance. Richmond is where I co-founded a club called the Kreative Kids Klub and put on magic shows, circus routines, and guinea pig races for the neighborhood kids. And Richmond is where I preceded to co-adopt a manatee with all the money we raised at such fairs. For the short time I could actually touch my toes, I decided to take on karate, where I experienced my first regret: quitting a belt before black (*SMH). Virginia is where I was dubbed the name Shay, Shay Shay, Shanaynay, Shaydiz, Shanny, and everyone’s favorite… ‘Jeff’s little sister.’ Richmond is where I often passed the time by playing pool in our bonus room while blasting a mix CD of the Backstreet Boys, 98 degrees, Nsync, and Hanson. It was here that I also learned, much later, that such an activity was not a cool thing to do.

I had my fair share of themed bday parties, art projects, and collectibles (beanie babies, poggs, and the Lemony Snicket’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ series to name a few). I participated in about every after school activity, sport, community service project, and spirit competition growing up to bore a stranger for about a week. I learned how it felt to lose at an early age thanks to the hundreds of ping pong matches, basketball one-on-one’s, and.. let’s face it.. ANY sort of game I played against my brother. (Thanks Jeff!). And most recently, I learned how… entertaining it is to have your parents for roommates :)

Richmond will always be home to me because of all of the above, and much more. Most of my immediate family is here, and most of my childhood is here. No matter what St. Louis brings me, or whichever city after that, I will always remember all that Richmond has given and taught me over the years. Because after all, it’s here in Richmond that I gained one of the most important assets of all: the courage and confidence to move away and know I can make it on my own.

*shaking my head