Why The 2022 Cardinals Season Is Special… To Me.
For those that don’t know, my name is Chris Lollis. I am die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan from Rolla, Missouri and (like most of you reading this) I never miss a game.
My Cardinals fandom started at an early age. Whether it was watching games at home with my dad, catching games on the radio (KMOX) with my grandpas, or occasionally getting to go to Busch Stadium to see them live… being a fan of Cardinal baseball was a handed down tradition that became a passion.
I was born in 1980, so I was brought up on “Whitey ball”. As a kid, I had posters on my bedroom wall of Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman to go along with my Stan Musial & Bob Gibson memorabilia, and when not watching games, collected cards and had numerous notebooks filled with player stats and checklists of all things St. Louis Cardinals.
The 80’s were a fun time to be a fan. Although the only championship we had in 1982 I admit I was too young to recall, I do vividly remember the 1985 “Go Crazy, Folks. Go Crazy!” call, the heartbreak of losing to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series and the 1987 loss to the Minnesota Twins a couple of seasons later. Even though one of my grandpa’s lived close by, I’d dial him up on an old rotary phone to talk about the games.
The 90’s on the other hand, had it’s ups and downs to say the least. I joke nowadays that if there was social media in that era, I’m not sure I could handle how some fans would’ve vented their frustration during that time. Nonetheless, I followed the team faithfully, and cheered on the likes of Ray Lankford, Lee Smith, Bernard Gilkey, Bob Tewksbury, Todd Zeile and others.
Listening to my dad and grandfathers during and after games, was for me, almost as informative and entertaining as listening to Jack Buck call the games. They didn’t sugarcoat their frustrations, and becoming a teenager during that time, I found myself sharing a lot of the same thoughts on their analysis, and witnessed my sister (who is 4 years younger than me) being brought up in the same way of being surrounded by Cardinals fandom.
The year I graduated high school, and witnessing the HR chase between Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa, was one of the most memorable times I had as a fan to that point. I can remember calling my grandpa every time Big Mac would blast one, and the excitement it brought to everyone in my family.
The winning ways of the Cardinals in the 2000’s became such a constant, that I knew we were becoming spoiled. It made me appreciate the 80’s and 90’s eras a bit more, and while I wasn’t as much into the baseball card collecting side of things, I found myself paying more attention to the intricacies of the game. It wasn’t just a “see the ball/hit the ball” mentality that I took away from it, playing little league. It wasn’t just the game within the game that I took away from it in the 90’s, I was completely enamored with everything about the St. Louis Cardinals.
Something about it, kept me feeling young. At times, it was one of few things that kept me bonded with my dad, grandpas, uncles & cousins. Not that we didn’t have other similar interests, or didn’t love each other, but when it came to the Cardinals we always had plenty to talk about, argue about, and it was like “old reliable”.
The heartbreaks of the 2004 and 2013 World Series losses to the Boston Red Sox, were nothing compared to highs of seeing the Cardinals win titles in 2006 and 2011. Just like you, I can remember where I was, what I was doing on both occasions.
Particularly the 2011 NLCS where I was in the waiting room at the hospital watching the Cardinals vs Phillies before being called back to witness the birth of my son, Kaleb. 2011 was indeed a great year!
From Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina & Adam Wainwright to Chris Carpenter, Jason Motte & David Freese… I had no idea that this many years later I’d be watching the first three still playing for the Cardinals, at such a high level wrapping up Hall of Fame careers in such a memorable season.
In May of this year, I lost my grandpa Alva Yelton. As I touched on earlier, he was my go-to during every Cardinal highlight, and a phone call away to talk ball with after every loss where we’d become “armchair managers” and tell each other how we would’ve managed to win that game.
I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve picked up my phone wanting to call him when Pujols hits a HR, when Arenado & Goldy make a spectacular play, when Waino is pitching a gem, or Yadi is wearing himself out on getting a double. Luckily, I do have some voicemails saved where of course he’s “talking ball.”
I lost my best buddy, when grandpa died. And as much as I love the St. Louis Cardinals, that bond him and I had over this team… I can’t put it into words despite trying.
Since his passing, I’ve relied on sharing my Cardinals fandom with others a bit more.
My fiancé Tina is who I sit here with at home and have watched every inning of every game with the past 10 years. I have to say, there’s a lot I love about this woman, but the fact she is so into Cardinals baseball… is like the icing on the cake. I’m blessed to share my love of the Cardinals with her.
My sister Aleatha and her husband Harold, both die-hard Cardinals fans that not only shared that same type of bond with my grandpa, but they even named their son Brockton Musial Fite. (I bet you could never guess the namesake). I have countless conversations with them about this team, and again… it seems to bond the family.
My dad, Billy Lollis. I have to say, as much as I credit my love of the St. Louis Cardinals to my grandpas, it started for me with him. Like I said, from a young boy watching games together, little league trying to emulate my favorite players, to spoiling me with ball cards, and to now calling him up or sending a text in a big Cardinal moment… I have to say it’s something I don’t take for granted. My son doesn’t have quite the passion for baseball as I do (as he’s more into Fortnite & gaming) but he knows how into it I am, and I’m hoping he’ll come around one day in cheering on the Cardinals.
Lastly, my brothers of Cardinals Nation 24/7 and our fan page family.
In 2016, I asked my friend Jarrad Redwine if he wanted to start a Cardinals fan page on Facebook. We started this thing as a fan forum and little did we know the extent of how big it would grow since.
It wasn’t long after and we brought in our friend Larry Cox to help us moderate the group. We all brought something to the table as fans of the team, and even got into the podcast game when we launched the idea of the Cardinals Nation 24/7 podcast.
From the startup days of having guests like Dan McLaughlin, Jim Hayes, Brad Thompson, Mark Littell, Adron Chambers, Bengie Molina, Ryan Theriot and others, to doing roundtable chats with Cardinal bloggers, contributors and personalities, and having our own crew doing shows on YouTube, it’s been a blast.
While we’ve had some moderators come and go over the years, the team we have in Brad Kehl, Dustin Duffy, Boyd Harter, Zak Jenn & Matt Devine, joining Jarrad, Larry and myself, is a band of brothers that talk more Cardinals baseball than at times I think is even possible.
To manage a page that has over 73,000 followers and a group of over 50,000 members, there’s no doubt an overload in the amount of Cardinals news, discussions and debates that we are involved in one way or another.
The fans that joined our forum over these past few years, always keep us on our toes and I have to say, many of them have became dear friends. That has been the coolest part of it, is the friendships we’ve made with them and ourselves, that had it not been for Cardinals Nation 24/7, we’d never know.
As I reflect back on being born into a family of Cardinal fans, to growing up on Cardinals baseball, to running such a huge fan forum, I can’t help but think of how much of my life involves this passion that is St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
I have a feeling we are witnessing something special this season. There’s no doubt that what we are seeing in Pujols & Molina’s last season, the battery of Waino/Molina coming to an end, Arenado, Goldy, the young guys, all but a lock for the playoffs… that this is one hell of a ride that we’re on.
But for me, “baseball heaven” isn’t just a reference to what us Cardinals fans refer Busch Stadium as… for me, baseball heaven is this Cardinals fandom, with all the people I share that with (family AND friends), and knowing my Grandpa Alva has one of the best seats from above.
After his passing, my brothers of Cardinals Nation 24/7 reached out to Adam Wainwright via Cameo for an awesome video that still tugs at my heartstrings.
I hope ALL of us, get to cap this season with a championship, and if not, that we can cherish these moments, of players we’ve cheered for so long, and value the relationships we have with the people in our lives that we share our love of the Cardinals with.
These moments are more everlasting than any World Series championship, but would definitely add to the memory bank and of course, would make this already special season, even more special for me. Thanks for reading and Go Cards!