Special Cardinals season is bringing back photographic memories for one fan

Patricia Fitzgerald with David Freese in a rare photo she did not take

By Sally Tippett Rains

The next time you drive through Lone Elk Park, go to the Visitors Center and you will see a dozen wildlife photos that photographer Patricia Fitzgerald has taken at the park. While she likes capturing photos of animals and birds—her favorite birds to snap pictures of are Cardinals; as in St. Louis Cardinals.

Patricia Fitzgerald has a collection of Cardinals-related photos that any St. Louis baseball fan would love, and many are close-up. She doesn’t have a press pass; in fact she is not in the media—she is a fan and has been snapping photos of her favorite team for at least 40 years. Like the one of Red Schoendienst, shown left.

Her collection of photos from the 1982 World Series team are some of her favorites, and we will be featuring them in an upcoming article about the ’82 reunion at Busch.

She was always at Busch Stadium and many of her fondest memories involve Opening Days and the days when Gussie Busch rode atop the Budweiser beer wagon guiding the Clydesdales himself.

“I got my first camera when I was 11 years old & I am self -taught,” she said. “I never had a press pass, just made the effort to get the best photos.”

Fitzgerald knew at a young age she loved being behind the lens.

“I started out with a 110 camera & eventually got a 35mm Richo KR5 which I used for 15 years, all film, all manual focus.”

Many of the photos were taken from her seats.

“We had season tickets starting around 1982 or 1983 up until just last year. I have attended hundreds of baseball games.”

Her photo to the left of Jack Buck is one of her memorable ones.

On Aug. 21, Buck would have been 98 years old.  Though he has been gone for 20 years, fans will always remember him, and the recent death of Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully brought about more Jack Buck memories.

The photograph of Buck was from her seat at Busch Stadium, but she would go anywhere that she could see the Cardinals or other sports celebrities– many charity events, meet & greets and Winter Warm-ups.

“I had my own darkroom & have many photos that I never even printed,” she said. “I have come upon quite a few gems taken at Busch Stadium 1 & 2. I found the one of Jack Buck with his KMOX microphone.”

Patricia has spent many happy hours recently going through her photo collection and scanning them. She is enjoying just looking at the old photos, and then it is a lot of work to electronically scan them in. She has hundreds of professional quality photos and each photo brings back a memory.

“It sure is fun to look back on all the amazing people I have been fortunate to photograph.”

She thought our readers would enjoy seeing them so she is sharing some of her favorites.

“I spent a weekend scanning some of my favorites taken over the last 30 years,” she said. “I found photos of Yadier Molina before he had any tattoos.”

The photo shown left is from around 2004 when Molina first came to St. Louis.

Molina, the youngest of  three baseball playing  brothers  (Bengie and Jose were playing for Anaheim at the time) made his debut with the Cardinals June 3, 2004–18 years ago when Mike Matheny went on the 15-day disabled list.

In this special year when it will be Molina’s last, Fitzgerald’s photos have even more meaning.

The same is true for her photos of Albert Pujols.

“I have been photographing Albert Pujols since his rookie year back in 2001,” she said. “Like everyone else, I had no idea who he would become but thought he had a great smile.”

That smile made him photogenic and after shooting him in the field, she approached him personally at a charity event.

“I asked him for a photo,” she said. “I was still using film, so I was selective in the photos I took at this event.”

Not knowing what a big superstar Pujols would be and how important he would end up being to St. Louis, she took several pictures of him early on.

“I took the most of any player,” said Fitzgerald. “it’s strange. I also shot his statue unveiling at Westport Plaza (when he had the Restaurant Pujols 5) and two World Series Parades. I also took photos of his return to Busch Stadium with the Angels.”

Before the start of this year’s season, she remembered when her sister Wendy and she went to New York. They found out he was going to be on the David Letterman Show. During the taping of the show Letterman challenged Pujols to hit baseball outside the studios.

“Wendy and I went to New York and got to see Albert hit some baseballs with David Letterman,” she said as his 2022 signing with the Cardinals brought back those memories. At the time she said she could not wait to see what the season would hold in regards to him

She didn’t just photograph the Cardinals though.

“I also found a photo I took of George Brett being interviewed by Reggie Jackson, one of Johnny Bench, and Leon Spinks—the boxer best known for defeating Muhammed Ali in one of the biggest boxing upsets of all time.”

Wendy and Patricia went to see Leon Spinks in Earth City on June 19, 1995.

“We got there early and met Leon,” she said.  “He posed for a portrait. We had a great time & Leon won the fight vs. Ray Kipping.”

She later got the photo autographed and they also went to see Leon Spinks’ son Cory box, and got autographs and more photos.

Speaking of the Spinks family, she also has a photo with Muhammad Ali with Michael Spinks. Leon Spinks died at the age of 67 in 2021 and she posted the photo shown on her Facebook page..

From her early days of photography to the Cardinals of today, she is still taking picture. The photo, right is pitcher Miles Mikolas taken at a speaking engagement he did.

While she loves sports and has taken many photos of sports events, she also loves music.

There is a book about Jethro Tull coming out in September by Richard Houghton called “Lend Me Your Ears, a Fan History” written from the fans perspective her story and photos will be included.”

“Jethro Tull was the very first concert I photographed using my 110 camera, I was about 14 years old.”

“I’ve also shot over 200 concerts from the first row in the early 1980’s, but that is for another day…”

We appreciate Patricia for sharing her photos with us.

Here are a few more photos that Patricia Fitzgerald took, the first one is Paul Goldschmidt and then Nolan Gorman.

 

 

 

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.