By Scott Kirwin
There’s something about the game of baseball that maintains its place in the American imagination. It’s an egalitarian sport compared to football. All players get a chance at scoring, and there is no position that dominates play the way the quarterback does in football. It’s pace is slower and more chess-like, with the game changing ever so slightly depending on the strike count and who’s on base. The season starts after spring but develops slowly, meaning that hot teams can flare out before the all-star break while poor teams can get their act together and make a run in the playoffs. Contrast this to the 16 game season of football where teams that lose the first 4 games aren’t expected to make the playoffs, let alone be serious challengers in the Super Bowl.
Baseball is still America’s Sport even though the NFL dominates the TV ratings. For those of us who grew up in a baseball city, the sound of our childhood often include baseball play-by-play by announcers whose voices ring through Time. I was lucky enough to grow up in St. Louis, home to the St. Louis Cardinals as voiced by Jack Buck and former Cardinal Mike Shannon. I have been on the other side of the planet and in the African bush during early Fall, and I’ve checked the baseball standings to see how the Cardinals were doing.
One man has taken his passion for the sport and the St. Louis Cardinals to an entirely new level. At the Collectors Universe website for the past 10 years a St. Louis Cardinals fan has posted his attempts at collecting autographs on of all St. Louis Cardinals pictured on Topps baseball cards from 1951 to the present. He sends a self-addressed stamped envelope to each player along with a small sum of money, and so far has collected 1,159 autographs. It’s not all smooth sailing. Some of his cards get lost, and others refuse to reply. But most do, and the collector known as “Shane” updates the 10 year old thread with his most recent catches. Reading the entire 11 page thread takes about an hour, but it is a testament to a man’s love of the game and the players love for the sport as well.