Opening Day is the best day of the year to Cardinals fans and whether you are planning to be at the game or keeping up to to the minute with it on your television or other devices we wish you a great day.
Cardinals fans from all over the country– and the world for that matter– are united in one common cause. Our contest winners came from South Dakota, Maryland and Missouri, a pretty good representation of Cardinals Nation.
Congrats to Carl Van Stryland: First Place Winner
Carl will get the Andrew Knizner autographed baseball and a couple of Cardinals tickets.
When a son loves baseball cards as much as his father
By Carl Van Stryland . (Carl is shown in photo above with his son)
Last year was a nearly perfect opening day. Only a Cardinal victory could have made it better. Since my son was almost eight years old, Opening Day in 2018 was the first time he was really aware of the excitement a new season brings. He remembered the disappointment that came from the Cardinals falling just short of the postseason the previous fall, and he, along with every true baseball fan, overflowed with hope in his heart that this year’s outcome would be different. Best of all, since Opening Day coincided with his school’s spring break, I was able to take the day off work, so we could watch the game together.
With the game’s start time scheduled for shortly after noon, we settled into our Sioux Falls, S.D. family-room couch with our baseball-themed lunch of hot dogs and lemonade with a fresh bag of sunflower seeds for a later-inning snack. I’m sure we celebrated when Yadier Molina clanged a two-run homer off the foul pole and cringed when the Mets put up a crooked number in the 5th, but I don’t honestly recall watching those events, and I don’t remember the final score. What is transfixed in my mind, however, is that we were together that afternoon in late March, and that is all that mattered.
When the game was over, I surprised my son with a large pack of baseball cards that I had purchased earlier in the week. He quickly but carefully opened the packaging before scouring through the deck in search of players from our Cardinals. When we finished organizing the cards and placing them into the protective sleeves in his baseball card binders, he looked up at me. “Thank you,” he said, and he fell into my open arms with a hug.
Other Award-Winning Essays…
A thousand miles from Busch and dreaming of the Clydesdales
By Adam Grack
My perfect opening day has less to do about the game itself and more to do about the person I’m with. My nine-year old son Caleb (like his father) is a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan even though we live in Potomac, Maryland– almost 1000 miles from St. Louis. However, despite my decade-long time in St. Louis, neither one of us has even attended a Home Opening Day at either Busch Stadium.
Recently, my son told me that one of his dreams is to see the Budweiser Clydesdales running around Busch Stadium before a Cardinals game and attend a Home Opening Day at Busch. While it hasn’t happened, I’m hopeful that one day we’ll both be able to be attending a Home Opening Day at Busch and clapping along with “Here Comes the King” while the Clydesdales perform their march. Perhaps Jack Flaherty, Ryan Helsley, or Alex Reyes will be starting pitcher that day. However, when that day happens, it wont matter how well the Cardinals perform (although I suspect both of our voices will be gone by the end of the game cheering on the Team). Because I’ll be with my son… celebrating new beginning and the hopes of another Cardinals Championship.
The Best Opening Day is With your Best Buds
By Eric Foster
I have been lucky enough to attend four opening days in my life. I have sat through a snowy opening day, I have had the sun beating down and just a good solid day at the ballpark. Every one of them have been perfect for different reasons.
As a Cardinal Fan, having the opportunity to see every Cardinal Hall of Famer and all the red Jackets is special. I think about it a lot how lucky we are as Cardinal Fans to see the likes of Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst before he passed, I was able to see Stan for two of the opening days. One day in the not so distant future we will be without these guys and a piece of opening day will go with them.
In addition to seeing the Red Jackets, we get to see the Budweiser Clydesdales, a Cardinal Tradition that in my opinion we don’t get to see often enough. Lastly, having all the Cardinal Players tour around the warning track for all of us to see and the excitement they have for Cardinal Nation. THERE IS NOTHING BETTER IN BASEBALL.
The last opening day I was able to go to was my perfect opening day with three of my best friends, a different friend of mine gave me four tickets to opening day and having the opportunity to take three of my best friends to experience something I’ve experienced multiple times was something I was very happy to do. Sharing an ice cold Budweiser at Ballpark Village before the gates open made our day even better.
All of that being said, every Cardinal opening day is perfect. Cardinal Baseball is back, the Hall of Famers are all there, the sea of RED is shining and the Clydesdales are touring the track.
Here’s to St. Louis, Cardinal Baseball, and Chasing the Commissioners Trophy.
Thanks to all who entered.
And now an update on Super-Fan Tom Brozich
Remember, he was they guy with the giant Cardinals tattoo…he got another one! Read about him in this article:
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.”