Aaron Miles’ Fastball covers the St. Louis Cardinals. The gritty scrappiness (or is that scrappy grittiness?) of the name and logo are courtesy of Michael Foutch. The site is dedicated to the 1.00 WHIP by Aaron Miles in his five pitching performances — all as a Cardinal, by the way.
How we became Cardinals fans
I am a long-time baseball fan who grew up going to my brother’s Little League games coached by my Dad coached and occasionally visiting John O’Donnell Stadium in Davenport, Iowa, then home to the Quad Cities Angels. Once, my Grandpa took my brother and I to a game where Bob Feller was signing autographs. I vaguely remember Grandpa explaining to me who Feller was; I was about 10 and not really paying attention. I did get Feller’s autograph on a paper picture of him that was handed out. Sadly, my Grandpa, the picture and now Feller are all gone.
Major league baseball caught my attention in teens and I became a die-hard Cubs fan who adored Jody Davis. (Yes, really, the Cubs.) 1984 was a wonderful thrill until October when the team went to San Diego, and I still hate Steve Garvey.
I so loved baseball and the Cubs that I pursued and was hired as an intern in the media relations department in 1988. Working there was an interesting and eye-opening experience for a very naive college student — so much that I quit following baseball altogether after the season ended. That lasted until Harry Caray died in February 1998. I’d met Harry during my internship and delivered the media notes to him each game day, enjoying that he always addressed me “Dear” and never by name even though I’d introduced myself countless times. Hearing of his death was heartbreaking and reminded me of all the times, pre-internship, where he’d kept me company on WGN. Slowly I began following the game, and the Cubs, again in 1998. It was another thrill of a baseball season, especially the home run chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
And it was because of both of them that in 1999 my interest in the Cubs began waning and my interest in the rival Cardinals increased. What seemed like unthinkable thoughts began crossing my mind: could I stop being a Cubs fan? Could I actually switch loyalties and become a Cardinals fan? In 2000, I decided the answer to both of those questions was yes. Much harassment from my Cubs fans friends and family members ensued. My uncle Jim, a lifelong Cardinals fan, was and remains my ally.
So I’ve been a Cardinals fan for 11 seasons. I’ve endured the ups and downs, savored the World Series championship, and cried when Jack Buck and Darryl Kile died. I’ve gone from marveling at McGwire’s homers to watching Albert in awe, and would rather watch Chris Carpenter pitch than anyone. (It’s still a thrill that the only time to date I saw him pitch in person, on Labor Day 2009, he threw a one-hit, 99-pitch complete game shutout.) 2010 was a major disappointment, but I was there on Aug. 3 to see Aaron Miles pitch the ninth inning. 2011 will be better.
I still attend games at John O’Donnell Stadium regularly, though it’s now called Modern Woodmen Park and the River Bandits are a Cardinals affiliate. The list of Cardinals I’ve watched during their A ball days is now long and includes such names as Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus, although my favorite remains Rick Ankiel during his first days as an outfielder. Back when the team was an Astros affiliate in the late ’90s, I even saw Aaron Miles play.
Being a Cardinals fan has always seemed as natural to me as breathing. Growing up with a St.Louis born-and-raised dad tends to have that influence! In fact, in some of my earliest baby pictures, I’m drowning in my very first Cards hat. So what if it was five sizes too big? I watched game after game with my dad, year after year, winning and losing with the team, until eventually, my own passion out grew even my dad’s! Don’t get me wrong, we still watch a lot of games together. But now, instead of me asking him what’s new with the Cardinals, he asks me.
I’ll never forget watching the 2006 post-season with him. Never will I forget the two of us, standing less than two feet from the television, just waiting for the moment when, with a final Adam Wainwright strikeout, we’d win the World Series. That, of course, happened. We shouted, jumped around, hugged, then realized how late it was and decided to try not to wake the rest of the family!
Every year, we look forward to spring training. Every year, we do our own analysis of the lineup, making predictions along the way. And now that we live in “Cubs country,” every year we battle it out with our Chicago-loving friends. (We always have the upper hand, of course, but we try not to make it too painful!!)
Baseball, for me, started as a thing to do with my dad. Now, it’s a thing I love — because of my dad!
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