The Cheap Seat Fan’s…TOP 5 Moments in MY Cardinal History

Posted: February 8, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Jim Edmonds’ shot off Roger Clemens. Mark Whiten’s four homer day. Fernando Tatis’ double Grand Slam inning. Ozzie’s opening day flip. Albert’s bash party in the ’11 series. Jack Buck bringing the nation back together after 911. The last out of game 5 of the 2006 World Series.

I’ve been treated to some phenomenally great moments in St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball. I’ve been watching the team since I was about four in 1987. However, my top 5 moments Cardinal moments of all-time each have a personal connection to me like very few other things in life so far. They are the things that make me into the fan I am now. They are what build up the passion for the team and what new memories have to strive to overcome. At the same time, they are what holds things together when everything isn’t so great.

It’s the essence of true fanhood to hold the accomplishments you witness your favorite club achieve and how they weave their way into your life that makes sports unique. It is these events that make them “your” team. So without any further ado, these are “my” top 5 Cardinal moments of all-time.

5. McGwire’s 62nd (1998): Everywhere across the country the conversation was simple and always started off the same: “Did he hit one tonight?”

That was the rhetoric nationwide, but the anticipation to Cardinals’ games was everything actually inside of St. Louis. And for me, it all happened at the perfect time, at the perfect age and for the perfect team. I was 13, kind of struggling with the lure of other sports and it was the Cardinals of all teams to have the entire buzz around. I probably saw Mac hit seven or eight homers at Busch that summer, and it was an environment like none other. I even got him to sign a baseball for me outside of Busch II that I’ve still got in a plaque to this day at my Mom’s house.

McGwire's assault on the record book in '98 revived the pulse of baseball around the country.

However, it was the 62nd one that was really the “WOW” of them all, and ironically, it was the shortest of them all. I was riding home from a fall league game of my own and my Mom turned on the radio and we listened to it happen. And then driving down the streets of St. Louis, far away from downtown where the madness happened, everyone driving down the street honked their horns and yelled out the windows and in that moment, baseball was king of the country. Unforgettable moment and nothing that has happened since can lessen that for me.

4. Dmitri Young’s triple vs. the Braves (1996): The Cards had went from terrible to great in a hurry in 1996, and in those days if you did that, you were bound to tangle with the Braves. The Cards got up in the series 2-1, but John Smoltz was mowing them down that day, and any advantage you could get up on those Braves pitchers, you had to hold it. After John Mabry & Tom Pagnozzi got on, Dmitri Young came to the plate as a rookie and smashed a shot into centerfield. It got down, both runners scored, then big, 240+ pound DY hit second base full speed, put his head down and shot into third base with a triple. In all the games I’ve ever been to in St. Louis, I’ve still never heard Busch Stadium II or III louder than that moment.

3. Adam Wainwright hooks Carlos Beltran (2006): This moment was great for a lot of reasons…and by the end of all them I was standing on top of my truck with a 40 ounce of malt liquor going absolutely out of my head.

Wainwright punched gravity in the mouth with the last pitch of the NLCS in '06.

First of all, it was against Carlos Beltran, who was a terror when he has in Houston the year before and seemingly single-handedly homered the team out of the mix.

Second, it was 2006. The Cards had resurrected themselves from the dead and were on a warpath to the Series.

Third, it was in New York and it shut down one of the loudest, nastiest crowds you could imagine.

Fourth, it sent us back to the World Series after two straight years of gut wrenching losses either in it or on the verge of it.

Fifth, but not last: that hook that Wainwright let go, that froze Beltran & even broke his knees down a bit once it set in on him, may still be the nastiest pitch I’ve ever seen thrown in my life. At the absolute best time for it.

2. Cardinals win the Game 7 of the World Series (2011): It was a buzz worthy day everywhere in the city. However the build up to it all day was the coolest, pressure filled moment I’ve ever witnessed. One thing was for sure: the Cardinals were going to win that night. Chris Carpenter made his third start of the series, Allen Craig pulled out some more heroics and the Cardinals won their 11th World Title in an efficient and resounding manner.

Carp shut the door on a demoralized Rangers club in the last start of his bulldog '11 Playoff run.

It was so odd that it felt like it did, considering there’s never been a team that played more clutch games or had to fight for what they got in professional sports history more than that team did. But by the time that Game Seven came around, the nerves were gone. Not just on the field, but in the stands too. And has I stood outside Busch Stadium and the first World Series game I had ever been to in my life. I had nothing left, when it was over. But even in that moment, it still wasn’t what the night before had been.

1. Game Six (2011): What more can be said about this game than has been said and seen? Actually, we talked about this one before here, didn’t we? It was the greatest clutch performance in the game’s history, twice. The Cards were dead at least three times in the game. Down to the last out twice in three innings; the last strike even. David Freese’s last two at-bats of that evening, first with the triple to send it to extra innings, and then with the walk off homer to send the series to Game Seven… it was unbelievable. It was absolutely the most emotionally fulfilling and draining experience I’ve ever watched in my life.

I watched it at home and it was as up and down as an hour and a half can get. After the seventh inning, I made my peace with the season. In the eighth inning I got some hope. In the ninth inning, I jumped up and head butted my solid wood front door in pumped up excitement from what Freese pulled off and split my head wide open. In the 10th the wind was knocked out of me by Josh Hamilton, but given back but Lance Berkman spared me.

There's no caption to do this moment justice....and very few Advil's either.

Then David Freese did the unbelievable again, and all of sudden The Natural wasn’t such a hard to believe story after all. Because I’d seen it all take place, twice in a matter of a half hour.

Take that Roy Hobbs.

For more on my lifelong love affair with Cardinal baseball, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

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