Monthly Archives: May 2011

West Coast Baseball

I’m not ashamed to admit I probably won’t stay up to watch the entire ballgame tonight. I get up too early to regularly stay up until midnight CDT or later. But it’s not just me getting old and hating life on less than six hours of sleep…listening to the broadcast while I fall asleep kind of takes me back to being a kid. I always had a radio or stereo of some kind, and some summer nights—especially when the Cards were playing on the West Coast—I’d let the voices of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon calling the play-by-play lull me to my slumber. The voices may not be the same, but the feeling is.

–Chris

An Interesting Monday Night Lineup

The St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup for tonight’s game against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies has been posted. The batting order looks normal, but pay attention to the positions:

  1. Theriot – SS
  2. Jay – CF
  3. Pujols – 3B
  4. Holliday – LF
  5. Berkman – 1B
  6. Craig – RF
  7. Molina – C
  8. Punto – 2B
  9. Westbrook – P

That’s right…Albert Pujols starts at third tonight. Lance Berkman takes his place at first, and Allen Craig—who originally was slated to play second base, for some reason—has been bumped to right field. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the reasoning and timeline for the switcheroo. On 101.1 ESPN radio in St. Louis, Bob Ramsey asked where this has been all year if Pujols is capable of playing third?

I would like to take it a step further: Where was this last year, when the Cards were running out butt-asses like Pedro Feliz and Felipe Lopez for two thirds of the season? The Hot corner was a major hole for the Cards in 2010, and though it wasn’t the only reason they finished second, the dearth there certainly was a factor. So what changed? I always thought Pujols playing at third base wouldn’t work because of his elbow and the risk of injury. I guess he’s better now. Or maybe the Cards aren’t concerned about that risk anymore.

 The other moves I’m on board with, although obviously Pujols is a better defensive first baseman than Berkman. But Berkman’s bat needs to be in the lineup…so why isn’t Daniel Descalso playing third, Punto second, Pujols first, and Berkman right? Can LaRussa simply not bear having Descalso face the left handed Lee? Is that worth the risks associated with the current lineup’s positioning? Maybe this is as much an indictment of Berkman’s play in the outfield and the Phillies’ lefty- and switch-heavy lineup.

Should be an interesting game…maybe an interesting series.

–Chris

Goodbye, Mama Lucy

The loudest, most passionate voice in the Left Field Bleachers of Busch Stadium went quiet forever when Lucille Elson, better known to Cardinal Nation as Mama Lucy, passed away last night after a long battle with cancer.

To those that knew her well, Mama Lucy was a fun-loving and passionate friend with a no-nonsense personality and a welcoming smile. To anyone within earshot of Section 593, she was one of the most boisterous, passionate, and recognizable figures in the stands at St. Louis Cardinals home games.

Mama Lucy attended games armed with drinks and snacks, t-shirts she made that sported her “Left Field Bleacher Rules,” a scorecard, and a small radio headset for listening to the broadcast. Part of her time was spent shaking hands and chatting with passersby who knew or at least recognized her and part of her time was spent sharing the t-shirts with anyone who wanted one. But most of her time was spent riveted by the game in front of her, and her fan participation was equaled by no other.

Every time a Cardinals player came up to bat, Mama Lucy had an encouraging yell for him. And I’m talking a yell. The first time I heard it, I almost couldn’t believe this woman–or any human being–was capable of projecting the way she did. We were brand new season ticket holders and sat in the row behind Lucy, just a seat or two away. The reactions of the surrounding fans were mixed: some looked annoyed, some yelled along with her, most gave a little cheer or a smile. But everyone knew this was what Mama Lucy did. It had become part of the game experience. If a Cards’ hitter fouled off a two-strike pitch, she would chant (mimicking the BeeGee’s classic) “AH AH AH AH STAYIN’ ALIVE! STAYIN’ ALIVE!” and add an encouraging line at the end of the chorus based on the situation on the field (“TWO RBI’S! C’MON, ALBERT!”). When the visiting team got a runner on first, she willed the Cardinals into turning a double play: “SIX-FOUR-THREE! FOUR-SIX-THREE! FIVE-FOUR-THREE!” This went on for the entire game, but it wasn’t off-putting in any way. Mama Lucy made the Left Field Bleachers special. 

And it wasn’t just the game experience that endeared Mama Lucy to the bleacher creatures at Busch Stadium. Every winter, she would invite a large group of the friends she acquired through Cardinals games to her home for an offseason catch-up session complete with a feast and various Cards videos playing in the background. It was like a Baseball Thanksgiving in February.

I became a season ticket holder at Busch in 2008 because I love baseball and I thought it would be the easiest way to obtain a seat for the 2009 All Star Game. I stayed a season ticket holder because of people like Mama Lucy. She became part of my summer family–frankly, I saw these people as often as I see my parents (who live two blocks away)–and because of that, I couldn’t imagine sitting anywhere else for more than a game or two. Mama Lucy touched the lives of many in numerous ways, but none more visible than out in the Left Field Bleachers. She was a friend and is already missed. 

bleachers001.jpg

Mama Lucy, front and center with some of her LF Bleacher Family

 

Here are a few links I was able to dig up:

Mama Lucy got a mention in an article on the Cardinals’ website back in 2002.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted two pictures of Mama Lucy at the 2009 All Star Game.

P-D columnist and sports radio host Bernie Miklasz offered Mama Lucy get well wishes earlier this year.

–Chris

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