Sunday, September 19, 2004

Clinching it

It looks like the Cardinals have a great shot at clinching the division today (Sunday.) While the Cards have been struggling a bit over the last 11 games, it doesn't take anything away from the fun of clinching the division as far as I'm concerned.

The last time I got to sit at home and watch the Cardinals wrap up a division crown was 1985. As I mentioned before, I grew up in a small town in Southeast Missouri, approximately 160 miles south of the city of St. Louis. Back when I was growing up, cable TV was still a new thing, and we did not even have the option of cable in our home. All we had was a good old-fashioned antenna, which my dad had mounted on top of a tower. This tower normally stood about 15 feet high, but had the ability to go up to as high as 30 or 35 feet if one were to manually lift the tower and brace it at a different elevation.

At normal height, we could receive the 3 networks; CBS out of Cape Girardeau, MO, NBC out of Paducah, KY, and ABC out of Harrisburg, IL. If we turned the antenna just right, we could get an additional ABC affiliate out of Jonesboro, AR, but since the programming was almost identical to the Harrisburg version, we usually didn't bother. However - if you were to raise the antenna to its highest setting, turn the antenna just right, and the weather were to cooperate? Well, you could pick up KPLR out of St. Louis.

I should mention that my dad wasn't a huge sports fan (and still isn't for that matter.) He would pay marginal attention to the St. Louis Cardinals (both football and baseball), but not to the extent that you and I do. However, when the Cardinals were getting ready to clinch in 1985, even my dad was interested enough to go outside during the day and get the tower lifted up so that we could actually pick up KPLR. The reception was black and white and extremely snowy, but we didn't care. We could see just enough to follow the game. The fact that we had to listen to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon on the radio for the play by play didn't take anything away from the fun (and on hindsight, probably added to it.)

In 1985, as I recall, the Cardinals didn't clinch it the first night their magic number was 1, so we had to tune in again the following night, making the fun last even longer. The fact that my dad was interested in this game made me realize that it was something special. Add to that the fact that I had only been to one professional game in my lifetime, and that I was lucky to see 10 games a season on TV and you can imagine how much fun that was for me. Every time the Cardinals get close to clinching, I am reminded of those fun times in 1985, and will always think back on them in the future.

In 1987 I was in high school with a busier schedule, so I was not home the night the Cardinals clinched, even though my dad once again went through the routine of 1985. In 1996, as well as 2000, 2001, and 2002, I was living in the Chicago area, and thus did not get to watch the Cards clinch, other than on Sportscenter.

But here we are in 2004, and I now live back in the St. Louis area. I have cable TV, and even if I didn't, I wouldn't have to raise my antenna to pick up the game. It's a beautiful day outside, and even though I should be outside enjoying it, I am parked in front of my TV, typing up this article. Between the great memories going through my mind and the fact that I haven't had the opportunity to enjoy this for almost 20 years, I am having a blast!

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