By Sally Tippett Rains
We met the cutest Cardinals fans at Scottsdale Stadium—Holden and Nate Durkin. We wondered if they were from St. Louis or if they lived in Phoenix.
“Our mom is from St. Louis and we go there for the holidays every year,” they told us.
Nate plays for the McCormick Ranch Little League. Holden has Albinism and though he loves baseball, he can’t play because he is legally blind, but he serves as Nate’s team’s batboy.
They like to combine their love of baseball with their love of playing the guitar. They help open up the local Little League Season by entertaining with their guitars. Before the first game they play their guitars and sing for the entire Little League crowd for their Opening Day.
“The boys play guitar at Church,” said Holly. “They are active in their youth group and were so excited when they heard about Adam Wainwright playing his guitar and singing after a Cardinals game.”
Of course, this was nothing new for them as they have been performing in front of people for a while.
“They dream to one day meet him.”
Nate and Holden are champions themselves, with Nate’s team winning the McCormick Ranch League one year.
“Holden wore their championship ring day and night until I had to pry it off, said Holly Durkin his mother. “It’s almost unrecognizable it had worn down so much!”
The Durkins are 20 year residents of Arizona, but Holly who is from St. Louis had no idea she would be living there.
“I graduated from Lindbergh High School and went on to Drury University,” she said. “I moved here to the Phoenix area) to work in my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2004. Within two weeks I met my husband Nick, who works at a San Francisco-based Software Start-up company. He was born here and is a third generation Arizonan.”
“Nick and I got married in 2008 but not before he was converted into Card’s fan,” she said,
One of the things the Durkins enjoys is the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry within their family.
“Nick’s grandpa was a die-hard Cubs fan, so every September we would make the pilgrimage from Scottsdale to Wrigley for the classic Cubs/Cards rivalry series.”
The photo, right is with the Durkins and Holly’s friend from her time at Drury University; and her family.
Holly said her family goes back generations in St. Louis.
“Our family’s land is marked on the map behind General Grant’s desk at Grant’s Farm,” she said. “I grew up going to Cardinals games… bringing my report card to the stadium to watch the game I earned with my good grades.”
Holly’s parents, Lyn and Gary Brand still live in South County (St. Louis)
“We get to visit them about three times a year,” she said. “My mom has figured out how to perfectly pack Provel cheese for me to bring home on the plane. “
Holly, like many school children years ago got free tickets through the Cardinals “Straight A Tickets” program. Once she got married and realized she was going to be living in Phoenix she wanted to make sure the kids were raised Cardinals fans too.
“Our boys have grown up listening to the games on KMOX and chasing them around the world!” she said. “They are big fans… their dream is to play a guitar gig with Waino someday!”
Everyone has favorite players.
“My favorite players growing up it was Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and Jack Clark,” said Holly. “As an adult I met Joe Garagiola here in Arizona through my work. It was so amazing to get to talk baseball with him while I was working! I definitely became a Joe Garagiola fan. Nick’s favorite was Albert Pujols”
He was wearing a Yadier Molina jersey the night we saw them at the Fall League game.
She said Nate likes Paul Goldschmidt, JoanYepez, and Adam Wainwright; and Holden likes Yadier Molina, Lars Nootbaar and Adam Wainwright. Since they like going to the Arizona Fall League they have a tendency to be fans of the players they get to see play at an early stage in their career. They often talk to the players or get their autographs.
Holly says she has some great Cardinals memories.
“I watched the US take on Puerto Rico in the WBC from San Juan, and then went downtown to celebrate their second place win, with Yadi and the team when they came back home. I’ve enjoyed watching the Cubs/Cards series at Wrigley.
‘Holden celebrated his fifth birthday at a Cardinals game in California. He got a
baseball signed by Juan Yepez and Lars Nootbaar at the Arizona Fall League.”
The family loves to travel and they went to London to watch the Cardinals play the Cubs this year.
“RV and exploring National Parks is our favorite!” she said. “In 2020 we saw all but the Alaska, Florida, Utah and Northwest parks, so we’re more than halfway there.
They love it when they get back to St. Louis whether for a Cardinals game or just to visit fammily.
“Holden loves Silver Dollar City,” Holly said. “He wants to be a roller coaster engineer someday while Nate wants to be a guitarist and ‘somethings else… not sure what yet.'”