By Sally Tippett Rains
He was in the lobby of the Homewood Suites in Palm Beach Gardens having breakfast in his red hat and Cardinals shirt. A quick glance as he ate his waffle and one could not help but see the large St. Louis Cardinals tattoo on his leg. We had to meet this superfan.
“I got that tattoo in 2013 when the Cardinals went into the World Series,” said Thomas Brozich, Jr. of Springboro, Ohio who traveled to Jupiter, Florida for Spring Training.
He is thinking of adding another one on the other leg.
There were a dozen other Cardinals tee-shirt clad fans at breakfast but his tattoo set him apart and once we met him he was full of stories. He has had season tickets since 1996, but in 2004 he moved five and a half hours from Busch Stadium by way of I-70 East and has still maintained the season tickets.
“This year will be my 40th consecutive Opening Day,” he said. “I have so many Cardinals memories. I was there on all the memorable days—Forsch no-hitter, Game Six of the 2011 World Series, first game back after the 911 terrorist attacks when jack Buck read his famous ‘Bastions of Freedom’ poem. That was an unbelievable experience that evening. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jack Buck at the BBWAA Dinner at the Millennium Hotel. He invited me for a drink and eventually asked me to sit with him at his table. I will never forget that experience.”
He also came to St. Louis for Mark McGwire’s 1998 home run chase and was at many games including 61,62, and 66 thru 70.
Brozich hopes to add “throwing out the first pitch” to the checked off side of his bucket list. This winter when the Cardinals announced they would be going back to the retro powder blue jerseys, he came to St. Louis for the announcement and met Bill DeWitt III that day.
“I met Mr. Dewitt that day and told him about all the games I’ve gone to and asked about throwing out the first pitch. He actually followed through and his executive assistant got in touch with me. I’m waiting to find out which date I will get.”
Brozich, who is self-employed as the president and CFO of Process 1 Solutions, Inc. says that since he owns his own business it works out for him to travel to the Cardinals games.
“I’m lucky that my job allows me to work from remote locations so when I’m traveling for baseball I’m not missing out on work.”
My wife, Robin caught the home run ball David Freese hit in game four of the NLDS in 2011. They got to meet Freese after the game (shown in photo).
When Freese hit the big one in game six of the World Series he was determined to get that one too. He made a dive for it—and got pretty close.
“Robin, who was trying to help, gave me a push and I tripped over the railing and I ended up on the ground, I’m the guy with the white shirt on the ground in the video of that home run. When we caught the first one, we gave it back to him and we got to meet him, get our pictures taken with him and he gave us a bat.”
In Ohio, he often wears his Cardinals shirts or if he has his shorts on his tattoo is visible people will talk to him. It was there he met Matt Carpenter’s uncle.
“I met him at one of my client’s place of business where he was working. I was wearing a Cardinals jersey and my license plates on my Mercedes are STLCRDZ — he asked me ‘Are you a Cardinal fan?’ “I said ‘Well yeah…a season ticket holder’ and showed him my tattoo. He said he was Matt Carpenter’s great-uncle.”
He must have been amazed when Brozich told him that he had caught Carpenter’s first home run .
“I told him we gave Matt back the ball,” said Brozich. “Matt gave us a signed ball in return. Later I heard the uncle had passed away and Matt left the team to travel to Ohio for the funeral.”
Brozich, who has two masters degrees from Fontbonne University loves the Cardinals so much and travels to St. Louis so often he and his wife have recently taken to renting an apartment near the ballpark.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “Several of the players live there, and Mike Shildt even lived there last year. It’s close to Busch Stadium and some of the first-year players stay there until they buy a home or get a larger apartment.”
His love for the Cardinals started when he was a child living in the Godfrey and Mt. Olive areas of Illinois. When he moved to Ohio he remained a dedicated Cardinals fan.
Robin, a retired Air Force colonel is also a huge Cardinals fan.
“At first when we met she could tell I liked baseball and then when I mentioned I had grown up in Illinois, she said, ‘oh no, you’re not a Cubs fan are you?’ and I said ‘no,’ then since I live near Cincinnati she asked if I was a Reds fan. I said ‘I’m a diehard Cardinals fan!’ and she could not believe it.”
If it was baseball that helped bring them together, the Cardinals games have been a big part of their lives ever since. She started going with him to St. Louis for games.
“We were going often and staying at various downtown hotels,” he said. “Before the season, we would book a bunch of hotel rooms and then figure out which ones we would be using based on the Cardinals schedule. Finally, we realized it would be easier if we just got an apartment in St. Louis, so now we can go back and forth.”
They have two dogs who make the trips with them, but plan to add two new ones to the group soon.
“We did have two dogs and it was hard enough to travel with them, but now with four it’s a lot easier with the apartment.”
Wearing Cardinals clothes, his tattoo and driving in a car with Cardinals vanity plates isn’t enough for him, he has a collection and it’s so large he has pieces in both of his homes.
“I have two collections,” he said. “One at our place in St. Louis and another in our home in Springboro. It’s a combination of items accumulated over the years as a child (World Series banner from 1983 opening day), a working wall clock from the 1980’s with photos of Ozzie, Willie, Vince, Tudor, and Pendleton, bobble heads, rings, and other giveaways from promotions thru the years, autographed baseballs from auctions or face to face signings of hall of famers and current players, purchased and signed photos of players, one of a series of aerial photos of old Busch and new Busch, Pujols/Musial photo, World Series framed scorecards, etc.”
He is constantly adding to the collection, like the balls he just got signed during this Spring Training. He likes sitting along the right field line behind the bullpen.
“I got Paul DeJong, Andrew Miller, Willie McGee, Dakota Hudson, Harrison Bader, Adonis Garcia and Bill DeWitt this year.”
What does he think about this years team?
“I believe we will win the Central division and advance deep into the playoffs. I think the addition of Paul Goldschmidt will further enhance the lineup and take pressure of some of the others (Ozuna, DeJong, Carpenter, Molina). I’m hoping for bounce back season from Wong and Fowler but believe we’ll need to move on if either stumble and utilize our depth — O’Neill and Martinez in the outfield and Munoz, Robinson, Schrock in the infield. I believe our starting pitching will be fine. We have depth and believe Wainwright will deliver as a professional. The bullpen is full of great options. Miller will be a great addition to Hicks and others. If Cecil stumbles— cut losses. Utilize Carlos in the bullpen.”