By Lloyd Gray/NEMS Daily Journal
Of all the professional sports, baseball relies most heavily on memory for its appeal.
Everything happens and is explained in the context of something or someone else enshrined in the collective memory of baseball fans. What has gone before is the reference point for all that is happening now.
Tonight the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers resume their National League Championship Series in Milwaukee. Television coverage has repeatedly harkened back to the 1982 World Series between the two teams, the last time they met in post-season play, before the Brewers moved from the American to the National League.
Those images from that Series 29 years ago are ingrained in my memory for the same reason as all Cardinals fans of a certain age: Our team won that World Series, its first title in 15 years and its last for another 24.
But there’s an additional and different kind of nostalgic context at our house. That week in October of 1982 was when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I had married the right person.
In love and oblivious to potential conflicts with baseball playoffs months away – the Cardinals weren’t supposed to make it anyway – we scheduled an early October wedding. As the time grew closer, it became apparent that I might have difficulty fully concentrating on the priority at hand. The Cardinals were in first place.
Nevertheless, the wedding proceeded as planned. Our honeymoon was uninterrupted by the Cardinals’ disposal of the Braves for the National League pennant. I at least had the good sense not to place baseball ahead of marital bliss.
Not so when we returned home and settled in to our new home. The World Series was on television. Our second week of marriage – our first at home together – was shared with the Cardinals and the Brewers. We watched every inning of every game.
And I do mean “we.” I’m not sure she intended to, but she did. What began as a gesture of newlywed generosity of spirit – indulging me in a compelling personal interest – gradually turned into a joint venture. She got interested and involved. She cheered them on. The Cardinals won, and she was hooked.
My wife had become a Cardinals fan.
The years since have provided a storehouse of shared memories. We’ve raised three children, none of whom have become big baseball fans in spite of our best efforts, but the two of us are still in this together. She even wore her Pujols jersey to the grocery store the other day.
On our 20th anniversary, my gift to her was a trip to see the Cardinals play the Giants for the National League pennant. In 2006, we went to the World Series.
In both cases, there were knowing winks and comments – you know, nice job getting to do what YOU want to do for your anniversary.
They don’t understand. She can be more rabid than I am.
This October, the memories flood. And some of them are about baseball.
Lloyd Gray is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or firstname.lastname@example.org.