Finally, a trip back to Busch Stadium with my dad

By Max Baker, News + Record Staff
Posted 7/7/21

A few days after returning home to St. Louis from the University of Missouri back in March of 2020 because of the spread of COVID-19, my mom had a sudden realization.

“I totally forgot there …

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Finally, a trip back to Busch Stadium with my dad

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Posted

A few days after returning home to St. Louis from the University of Missouri back in March of 2020 because of the spread of COVID-19, my mom had a sudden realization.

“I totally forgot there were no more sports,” she said to me, as I lay on the couch sulking, probably thinking about that very idea.

“Are you kidding?” I replied.

Although I obviously missed seeing movies with friends, visiting relatives in Florida and basically any sort of social interaction, it was the loss of sporting events that struck me the hardest during that initial period. After all, March Madness combined with the start of baseball season is my heaven.

So when my dad called last week and invited me to see my first in-person Cardinals game with him in more than two years, I jumped at the offer. Yes, maybe I was incentivized to make the two-hour trek from Columbia when he told me they were box seats. But the reality was that it didn’t matter to me. It was a chance to see my beloved Cardinals with the person who introduced me to the game I love.

When I was 2 1/2 years old, I was featured in a local newspaper story because I memorized the names and jersey numbers of every player on the Cardinals roster. I barely remember reciting them, but my family always bragged to our friends about this and kept videos like they were something valuable. Although I’ll take credit for this, it was ultimately my dad who taught me everything I knew.

It was he who bought me my first radio so that I could listen to the Cards as I fell asleep at night. It was he (with my mom’s permission, of course) who let me stay up late to watch them finish off the Tigers in the 2006 World Series. And it was he who overpowered my arguing and forced me to put mustard on my hotdog in the concession line like a real baseball fan would do.

We’ve seen World Series clinchers at Busch Stadium together (Red Sox in 2004, Cardinals in 2011), game-saving catches by Jim Edmonds and walk-off wins against the Chicago Cubs. He taught me the secrets to getting an opposing players’ autograph, something I’ll hopefully get to teach my own kids.

But it isn’t really those moments that I’ll always keep with me. It’s the moments like last Tuesday night, where we laughed about the Cardinals inability to throw strikes against the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks and mustered only three runs. Or on the ride home, when he made sure I had enough clothes to take back to college. It wasn’t until these nights were taken away by COVID-19, that I truly appreciated how much they meant to me.

As we sat behind home plate on a miserably hot St. Louis summer night, I didn’t want the game to end.

For the first time in a while, I felt like a kid with my dad again. And I really missed that.

News + Record Intern and St. Louis native Max Baker is a journalism student at the University of Missouri. He can be reached at max@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Maxbaker_15.

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