"My Most Memorable St. Louis Cardinal Game"

*Regular Season Edition*

by: Lauren Bundy & cardinalsgifs

 

  Dan & Janet McCarty 

My most memorable Cardinal game was on May 28th, 2017 at Coors field in Denver. The Cardinals lost that day to the Rockies by a score of 8-4, yet I will remember this day for the rest of my life.

 

Before I tell you about that day let me start at the beginning:

I grew up in Wichita, Ks. My earliest memories of my dad are of him sitting on the front porch in the summertime listening to Harry Carry on KMOX. My dad lived and died with the Cardinals through good and bad. (mostly good right?) Multiple summers we would ride the train from Kansas to St. Louis, stay downtown and catch at least a couple games. Lou Brock was my childhood hero. I also love to tell I saw both Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton pitch in person in the late 60’s.

 

During the strike season of “94” I took my dad to his last Cardinal game with my brother and my two oldest sons that were 10 & 14 at the time. Ray Lankford walk off homer on his birthday was the highlight. Fast forward to Oct. 27th 2006 game 5 vs the Detroit Tigers, I also happened to get married that day to the love of my life Janet. She was not a huge baseball fan (yet) but she knew how much I loved my Cardinals. I never expected her to give up our wedding night but she insisted we crack open the bubbly and watch the game. Cards clinch, Eckstein is the MVP and I felt like the luckiest guy in the world.

 

I just married my best friend and she insisted we watch the Cardinals.

 

In April of 2017 my wife was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. After a successful surgery to remove the tumor, we visited with best doctors here and at the Mayo clinic. We had a treatment plan that included radiation and chemotherapy that we would start right away. The doctors gave my wife 18-24 months. After a couple weeks of treatment she was still feeling well so we decided to take a 3 day weekend and drive to Colorado for the memorial weekend.

 

We are about 8 hours from the mountains and we go there any time we can. Imagine our surprise when we found out the Cardinals were in town. She insisted we go see our Cardinals. I don’t remember too many details of the game except there were a lot of home runs. (go figure) She was starting to get tired and we only stayed for maybe 6 innings but we had so much fun. Neither one of us knew this was our last really fun day.

 

My wife Janet McCarty was called up to the big league in the sky on Oct. 7th 2017. Only 6 months from her diagnosis. She was only 59 years old and I miss her every day.

 

  The Rally Cat Game 

The game was part of my trip to visit my family in Missouri. We purchased tickets for several games and took a road trip to each park. I followed the Cards to Milwaukee, drove back to Missouri & watched them in KC, & capped off my trip with the Rally Cat game at Busch. The next morning after the game I caught a plane back to California.


I went to the game with my cousin's husband, their daughter, and his cousin.

At first I was a little bummed out since they were losing. I just came from the KC game where the Cards hit a ton of home runs and beat the Royals pretty badly, so I wanted another thumping. 

 

Once the cat came onto the field, I started laughing & really felt for the guy that picked up the cat and got scratched & bitten. I then just had a quick thought..."Man it'd be sweet if Yadi just hit a double down the left field line & cleared the bases."

 

Then the pitch. I knew it was gone by the sound of the bat. I couldn't believe it.....I was celebrating, both arms up, beer in hand. 

Then I realized that it was coming right at us! The seats to my left were empty up to the end seat, & a very nice woman, who was keeping score, was sitting in the end seat for our row. She had a Cardinals polo shirt on a was using a huge leather bound scorebook.

The ball went through the hands of a couple of fans sitting in the row in front of me, then bounced off the woman's scorebook that she put up to protect her head & face.

Once it hit the ground I jumped for it. Ripped my jeans at the knees and everything. It rolled under the seat and I just reached under and grabbed it & started celebrating the moment.

 

I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe the chances of that happening to me out of the thousands in attendance. The right place at the right time.

 

It was amazing. I still get goosebumps when I watch the video. I've been a huge Cardinals fan my entire life, so for that to happen to me.....it's something I will never forget & I'll always cherish the moment & the ball

 

  Stan Musials Last Game 

Just an 11 year old Cards fan, my Dad got tickets to Stan Musial's last game.

 

Adult ticket was $1.25 & kids ticket was $1.00.

It was a Sunday vs the Reds.

I remember Stan circling the field in an Oldsmobile convertible.

Pre game was Stan being honored by the Cub scouts and the St Louis chamber of commerce and of course Gussie & the Cards. Of course the game was almost secondary. Stan batted twice hitting singles past Reds rookie 2nd baseman. Oh, his name was Pete Rose. It was a fun day & a greater memory


Below is the giveaway that day with my ticket stub. I was lucky later in life to become friends with Stan as we had the same barber. My 2 prized autographs from Stan are an all century team ball and the book written on his 90th birthday by Miklasz & the commish Hummel. I actually have all 3 signatures in the book. Stan's is a little off as this was when he became sick.

I was privileged to be at his last game and honored to call him a friend. It's kid's dream when I was young & then older. Do your self a favor & read some of the good books written about him. A great player and an even greater person.

 

  7,732 Miles Traveled... 

 
I became a Cardinal fan in 1982. I was 9 years old and had never even heard of baseball before then. Coming from Northern Ireland it wasn’t a sport we play, or had on TV. Even to this day, most people haven’t heard of it or seen a game. 
But I was watching a program called Trans World Sport. That basically showed little clips of sports around the world. They showed the Cardinals winning the World Series.

For some reason I can’t explain I was drawn to the team with the Birds on the Bat.

I wanted to know more about them and about baseball. Obviously the internet didn’t exist then so I had to order books through my library. 
 

Games weren’t on TV so I couldn’t watch it, but I learned from the books and one night I found I could get armed forces radio. Which was a terrible reception, dropping in and out all game. I’d stay up way later than I should of listening to games and learning more. Always wishing I could be there to see a game live. 


The years kept passing and I never thought I would ever make it to a game. But in 2011 I decided I was going to save as much as possible and hopefully get to a game the following year. So that's what I did! Always expecting it not to happen. So in July of 2012 I booked a ticket to St. Louis (via New York). Leaving 30th of September, so I could see 3 regular season games in October against the Reds. 
I remember walking to the game like an excited kid. The amount of fans all decked in red. Then, experiencing the National Anthem and the pre game build up, for the first time live, was an experience I’ll never forget. 


The game itself wasn’t anything special to most there

but to me, it may as well of been a World Series game.  


We won 4-2 with Jaime Garcia hitting a HR which I guess was pretty memorable. 
I went to the other 2 games against the Reds, then managed to get to a post season game later. I’ve since made two more visits to St Louis for games in 2014 and 2016 and also been to games in Chicago and New York,
but nothing will compare to that first game. 
 

 

 Me & David Freese 

My name is Marie and I am @marie_lynneee on Twitter. This is my favorite baseball memory from the regular season and it took place in September of 2016.

 

It’s on my bucket list to eventually visit all 30 MLB ballparks. I’ve been working on that accomplishment for years now, paying for a majority of my travels by myself. I’m happy to say that I have 11 stadiums checked-off so far and my lucky 11th came in September of 2016 when my mom and I road-tripped from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where we watched the Cardinals play the Pirates. It was important to see the Redbirds as they made their push towards October, but I had an additional reason for wanting to go to Pittsburgh--- my all-time favorite (ex) Cardinals player is David Freese and he is now a member of the Pirates.

 

On September 6th, 2016 my mother and I arrived at PNC Park. I had met David Freese twice before, once at Coors Field in Colorado when he was the Anaheim Angels’ third baseman and then once in St. Louis once he was on the Pirates. Both times, I had brought a custom-made sign so I did this again in Pittsburgh. My sign read: “I DROVE FROM ST. LOUIS TO SEE THE CARDINALS AND DAVID FREESE.”

 

I guess it worked because even though Freese was not in the starting line-up on September 6th, when he saw me in the stands before the game, he came out of the dug-out just to talk with me! He asked my name (since we were getting to know each other, I guess), gave me a personalized autograph, and took a few photographs with me. Already, it felt like the long drive to Pennsylvania was worth it!

 

Then we watched the game and it was without a doubt, the best regular-season match-up ever. In the first inning, Yadier Molina hit a grand slam and believe it or not, before that, I had never witnessed a Cardinals grand slam in person. After that, the Pirates came back strong and the game was going back and forth throughout the middle. In the 9th inning, there were two outs and two strikes on pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter, and the Cardinals were trailing 6-7. I remember looking at my mom and saying, “If we lose, this will be the best Cardinals loss I’ve ever been to.”

 

But Cardinals fans know better than anyone, that a game is never over until it’s over and even though David Freese was on the opposite team now, I felt like a little bit of Game Six magic was in the air that night. Down to his last strike, Matt Carpenter hit a solo, pinch-hit home run that tied the game! All the Pirates fans around us were booing but my mom and I were screaming with excitement and the atmosphere was absolutely incredible. And right after Carpenter went deep, Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta each hit a homer of their own . The Pirates were stunned, went quietly in the bottom of the 9th, and just like that, the Redbirds had won by a score of 9-7!

 

My experience is enough to make any Cardinals fan ecstatic, but this entire memory holds extra meaning for me because of my history with David Freese and I don’t mean Game Six.

 

In the fall of 2011, I was struggling deeply with anxiety and depression which was partly fueled by a rough transition to college and uncertainty about my future. Like most members of Cardinals Nation know, David Freese and his comeback story got a lot of publicity after the 2011 World Championship and it was his past struggles with substance abuse and injuries that guided me towards recovery and a career in healthcare. I work primarily with individuals suffering from various mental disorders and I am passionate about reducing the stigma of mental illness and addiction in today’s society. Each time I’ve gotten the privilege of meeting David Freese, I’ve told him that he’s my inspiration and that is the truth. His story touched me even more approximately one year ago when a new article was published about him and I learned that he is a survivor of anxiety and depression just like me.

 

We’ve both been down to our last strike--- multiple times, but we’ve never given up and I think my night in Pittsburgh in September of 2016 was proof of that.

 

 #62 

I was born in St. Louis in March of 1990 and moved around before we came back in 1995. I fell in love with sports, especially baseball. Before I can remember, and getting a chance to grow up in St. Louis, the love for the game only grew more as 1996 gave me a taste of the postseason.

 

I can still remember going to game with my dad and sitting in the nose bleeds about 20 times per season. In school I would make up what I thought the lineup should be. 1996 gave me a taste of the postseason as I painted my face and was interviewed on Channel  5 local news, only for the Cardinals to be slaughtered in game 5 and go on to choke away a 3-1 series lead to the Braves. 1997 came and I still vividly remember one night at home watching ESPN when they showed the in game highlight of Mark McGwire’s moon shot off Randy Johnson in the Kingdome. I had known of McGwire before, but that home run made an impression on me, but little did I know that was only the beginning of what was to come from Big Mac.


My mother came from a family of 8 brothers and 1 sister and I was the first grandchild of the family. Her family was all born and raised Cardinal fans, which is actually where my fandom comes from. My father was from Washington and grew up a Mariner fan, but fell in love with the Redbirds living in St. Louis. With us living in St. Louis my uncles would take a trip or two to visit each year to catch a couple games. Prior to the 1998 season, they decided to purchase tickets to the game on September 8, 1998 against the Chicago Cubs. As everyone knows Big Mac started to garner the attention of the country that summer as his pace of hitting home runs was an incredible pace.  I began wearing the number 25 in little league and my mother bought me a “chasing history” shirt that had a box to check every home run on the chase to 62. 


Labor Day weekend had come, my uncles were in town with McGwire on the brink of history. We watched him hit a mammoth 61st home run from my living room meaning we had tickets to the potential record breaking game the next night. I remember getting to the stadium early and the atmosphere was incredible. You could feel something was going to happen that night. Our tickets were in the first row of section 218 down the RF line. My uncles joked that the record breaker would be an opposite field shot, and me as a child visualized the ball coming to us.

 
The bottom of the 1st saw McGwire get to bat, the crowd on its feet, flashes from cameras filled the stadium with every pitch as the crowd collectively held its breath. Nothing would come of it. His next opportunity would come in bottom of the 4th. I still remember vividly the crack of the bat and time seeming to stand still for a few seconds. As we watched the ball sneak over the wall and out of sight, elation filled the stadium. I hugged my uncles, my father and remember hardly being able to yell and cheer. My body became numb and for the first time in my life sports brought me to tears of joy. The rest of the game was a blur, and I honestly had to check if they won the game or not a few years back (they did). 


The whole time McGwire was in St. Louis I pursued his autograph at every game I attended but was never quite able to get him to sign in the zoo of people. I continued to wear the number 25 every summer until I got to high school where the coach that had been there for 40 years wore the number.

 

My father passed when I was 16, but the summer of 1998 is a cherished memory I have of going to games with him to cheer on the Redbirds, but also witness history. My passion for the Cardinals is obvious if you know me and if not for the summer of 1998 and Mr. McGwire, I’m not sure the level of passion I have for the Redbirds would be what it is today.

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 #70 

Heading into the final three games on the schedule, both McGwire and Sosa had 65 home runs. Big Mac had only hit three homers in the 15 games since September 8th, but on Friday night, he tallied number 66. Sosa also hit a home run, so heading game 161, they were tied.

I was (of course) thrilled to be going to the final two games of the season, again with Kevin. I vividly remember the discussion we had on our way to Saturday’s game. As we drove toward the stadium I had the craziest thought. “You know?” I said. “All he has to do is hit two today AND hit two tomorrow, and he’d end up with 70.” It was a preposterous thought. To expect somebody (even Big Mac) to hit two home runs in a game was ridiculous. To expect it in back-to-back games was patently absurd. And yet, with all that he had shown us that season, it didn’t seem that outrageous.

We were sitting in the same section as we had been when McGwire hit number 62. And once again, he put on a show for us. In the bottom of the 4th of a scoreless game against the Expos and future Cardinal, Dustin Hermanson, Big Mac hit a line drive over the left field wall. It gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead, but far more importantly, it gave him 67 on the season and stretched his lead over Sosa to two.

Then in the bottom of the seventh, with the Expos leading by a pair, McGwire hit a two-run bomb that tied the game. The Expos would score in the tenth, but McGwire would get one more at bat. Joe McEwing and J.D. Drew were retired to lead off the bottom half, but with the Cardinals down to their final out, the crowd rose to its feet in anticipation of some more Big Mac magic. On a 3-2 pitch, our hero grounded out to third, ending the game. Our disappointment was tempered though not only by the fact that McGwire had twice that afternoon added to his magical season, but also by the hope that there might still be a little magic left for the next day.

We arrived at Busch Stadium and settled into our (incredible) seats. For years, Kevin’s family had not just season tickets, but row one field box seats. On this day, for game 162 of the season, Kevin had the family tickets, and I once again was the beneficiary.

 In the first, McGwire hit a single to centerfield, leaving us all strangely disappointed. When he came to the plate in the 3rd, the score was now 2-2 with two out and nobody on. He would not disappoint again. He launched number 69 on the season deep to left field to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. The crowd erupted and jubilation reigned as Big Mac once again trotted around the bases. He was now three ahead of Sosa, a lead that seemed comfortable if not unbeatable.

McGwire’s work for the day was not over yet though. I recalled the conversation I’d had with Kevin a little more than 24 hours earlier. Seventy would be such a nice, round number! In the fifth, much to the displeasure of the sell-out crowd, Expos hurler Mike Thurman (who had allowed number 69) walked McGwire on four pitches. We all knew that he would likely only get one more opportunity.

That opportunity came in the eighth. The game was once again tied, with two on and two out. McGwire jumped on the first pitch he saw from Carl Pavano and sent a line shot into left field. It cleared the left outfield wall and we were amazed at what he’d accomplished. At the same time though, we really weren’t all that surprised. All season long, McGwire had done the impossible.

Of course, when Barry Bonds broke McGwire’s record three years later, that took a little of the shine off the experience. And it was even more greatly diminished by the revelations that subsequently came out regarding McGwire steroid usage.

Even so, the way I felt (both on September 8th and September 27th) is something that will always stick with me. What a blessing it was to have witnessed such events in person!

 

 Catch with Son 

 
 My son, my dad and myself made our first trip to Winter Warmup in January 2011. As Jaden and I waited in line for the autograph tickets we purchased, my dad was hanging out at the main stage listening to interviews and auction items. While in line I thought I overheard my dad bidding on a certain package, then actually winning said package. The package was play catch on the field at Busch Stadium before a game, watch Cardinal batting practice on the field, get your picture with a select Cardinal, and a $100 gift certificate to Mike Shannon’s. August 9th was one of the dates available and being the day after Jaden’s birthday, that’s the date we chose. Schedule for the day was catch on the field, tour of the stadium, watching batting practice, then the game with tickets in the Champions Club.


As I enter Busch III with my son, my mom and my dad, I notice our escort does not have a ball. I asked, “I’m sorry were we supposed to bring a baseball?” She replied, “Well yes. Wait here on the field, I’ll go try and find a ball.” As we are all looking around in awe my dad taps me on the shoulder. Here comes Mark McGuire with his two sons headed to center field. Polite hellos were exchanged before the batting practice work ensued.

 

A short time later our escort arrived with the baseball and our catch time started with my son and I in right field. I was sure to watch as Mark tossed batting practice to his sons. An incredible experience that we’ll all never forget. We took the tour and then we stood behind home plate to watch batting practice. I remember the incredible sound of the ball coming off the bats of Matt Holiday and Albert Pujols. As David Freese was stretching he noticed Jaden and I and he picked a ball up and rolled it to Jaden.

 

After batting practice, we were taken over to the dugout for our “Professional Picture” with a select Cardinal. As we waited for the photographer we stood in the dugout with players running in and out. Jon Jay signed our ball along with Cory Patterson and Kyle McClellan.

 

Then here comes Mark McGuire. He says “Hey! You made it back down here.” I had to look around to check if he was talking to us. We shook his hand and talked for what seemed like an eternity. It was all surreal. We were informed that the photographer didn’t show but we were able to take a picture with Jason Motte with our camera.

 

The game itself was a little anti dramatic. The Brewers won, and Lance Lynn injured himself. But, everyone remembers the rest of the story. Carpenter’s game vs the Phillies, the slaughter and redemption of Milwaukee, and the 2011 World Series. Unbelievable year, and I believe that my father’s mother played some part looking down on Cardinal Nation.