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