Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Category Archives: Memphis Redbirds

*Not an NFL Draft Post*

Oh, the pervasiveness of the stupid NFL draft…

Oscar Taveras

Oscar Taveras

Let’s talk baseball instead, shall we?

Exit McGregor

Exit McGregor

Last night, the Cardinals’ AAA Redbirds of Memphis faced the local Oklahoma City Redhawks in Bricktown for the 3rd match of a 4–game series.  The Redbirds struck first with an Oscar Taveras triple, scoring Shane Robinson and then Taveras scored on a wild pitch.  However, the lead was short-lived as Memphis’ starting pitcher, Scott McGregor had a rather messy outing, giving up 5 runs in just the first 2 innings, leaving Memphis with a differential their bats simply could not overcome.  Hard-throwing Memphis pitcher Jose Alamarante entered the game with two outs in the 2nd inning, pitched a 3-up, 3-down third inning and then gave up a double and a homerun in the 4th inning to give OKC a 2-7 lead.

Stephen Piscotty

Stephen Piscotty

A spark of hope was ignited at the top of the 5th when Kolten Wong hit a lead-off single, but Shane Robinson followed with a pop out and Oscar Taveras then flew out to CF.  Kolten Wong bit back and stole second, with Stephen Piscotty’s rbi single then scoring the speedy Wong (Memphis 3, OKC 7).  Piscotty, not to be outdone, followed up his single by stealing second and then got a bonus bag after a throwing error by OKC’s first baseman, Jon Singleton.  However Scott Mooore (walked in the 1st, singled in the 4th) struck out to end the inning and strand Piscotty at third base.

Heath Wyatt

Heath Wyatt

Submarine pitcher Heath Wyatt took the mound for the bottom of the 5th and faced just three batters – striking out two and inducing a pop out to Scott Moore at first. In the 6th inning, our old pal Pete Kozma smacked a double on a line drive to left field, but the Redbirds couldn’t bring him home.  Wyatt returned with his mesmerizing sidearm throw to strike out two more in the 6th (with a single and a pop out as well). Lefty Nick Greenwood entered the game throwing for Memphis in the 7th, hit a batter and gave up two singles (one run scored) before getting OKC to hit into a double play and a groundout to end the inning.  (Memphis 3, OKC 8).

This game is not going well!

This game is not going well!

Memphis bats failed to get anything going in the 8th inning, but Nick Greenwood returned for a clean bottom of the 8th – 3 up, 3 down with two ground outs fielded quickly and cleanly by second baseman, Kolten Wong.

Good ol’ Kozma drew a walk to kick off the top of the 9th, but was erased on the double play ball off the bat of catcher, Ed Easley.  All of our hope for a two-out Redbird rally was then quickly dashed as Luis Mateo grounded out to first.

That being said, it was a perfect night for kicking back and watching baseball.

Wong, Kozma, Moore and Mateo

Wong, Kozma, Moore and Mateo

Some observations from a Cardinal fan:

  • Shane Robinson (recently sent down from St. Louis) was visibly frustrated at the plate. He did draw a walk (and scored) to start the game, but grounded out, popped out and had a knee buckling strikeout in the 7th.
  • Oscar Taveras tripled (scored), walked, flew out to CF, and grounded out to 2nd.  I had hoped to be able to report on something impressive defensively, however I was disappointed.  Curiously Shane Robinson appeared to be covering far more outfield grass from LF than Taveras in CF.  And on the one occasion I watched Taveras field a hit (bottom of the 7th), a run scored easily from 2nd as Taveras did little to challenge, nonchalantly scooping the ball and holding onto it as the runner raced home.
  • Kolten Wong flew out, grounded into a double, singled (stole 2B, scored), and grounded out- a rather mediocre performance offensively.  Defensively, he started off a bit shaky, with a little trouble getting a ball out of his glove (but still making the out at first.)  However by the end of the game, Wong was flashing the leather quite well and giving us reason to ooh and aaah.
  • Ed Easley made some young fans, tossing both of my kiddos baseballs during the game – and I have to give him credit for catching a crazy first couple of innings when McGregor couldn’t find the plate!
  • Stephen Piscotty was hit by a pitch, ground into a double play and smacked 2 singles (one rbi), but his show-stopping moment came late as he chased a Matt Holliday-esque linedrive/almost-homerun to far right field line and caught it on the run with outstretched glove, looking over his shoulder.
  • But my absolute highlight of the night was watching Heath Wyatt take the mound.  I LOVE to watch the mechanics of sidearm and submarine pitchers, and Heath was brilliant.
Heath Wyatt Baseball

Heath Wyatt Baseball

After the final out, Heath came out of the dugout just as we were leaving – serendipity, I tell you!  He signed a ball for us and I’m going to add it to my collection of favorite baseball mementos.  I’ve been hoping to catch a game when Heath Wyatt pitches for a couple of years now.  And last night, a baseball wish came true.

Sometimes, it’s not getting the win that makes a baseball night special…

Thanks for reading.

~Erika

Souvenir Baseball Pic

Souvenir Baseball Pic

Lynn, Cleto and our Baby Birds

To say I enjoy watching a ballplayer make his Major League debut would be an understatement.  Whether a Cardinal or not, a player stepping to the plate in the big show for the first time mesmerizes me.  The nerves, the excitement, the once-in-a-lifetime intensity – all that (and more) combine to create that rare thrill.

Thursday night, Lance Lynn got his moment of glory, taking the mound as starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Lynn was off to a tremendous start, retiring the first ten batters he faced.  The Baby Bird was pitching like a pro and the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead heading into the 4th inning.  I couldn’t have been more proud.

But then….

If you watched the game or saw the box score, you know the result wasn’t a picture-perfect debut by Lance Lynn.  The defense let him down.  The defense…. Yes, the Cardinals’ 2011 defense remains a sore subject with me.  And yes, I’m again pointing a finger at a couple of our boys playing down the middle of the field.

Which brings me to Baby Bird Debut Numero Dos for last night, Maikel Cleto.  Cleto came from the Mariners when the Cardinals decided to dump the brilliant defensive glove of shortstop Brendan Ryan.  (insert my trademark Brendan Ryan trade protest here)  Cleto was called up, fresh from AA Springfield yesterday, hopping over AAA to make his first appearance out of the St. Louis bullpen in the 7th inning.  Unlike Lance Lynn, Cleto failed to impress me.  He walked his first two batters, gave up a double and then back-to-back homeruns before finally getting his act together and striking out the final two batters to end the nightmare. (In his defense, Cleto managed a 1-2-3 8th inning and Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.)

Two Baby Bird debuts plus a field of Cardinal youngsters made last night’s game a must-see for those of us who follow the minors as well as the big boys.  2010 Memphis mentionables playing last night included Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Tony Cruz (catcher, starting at 3rd base!  But that’s another story…) and pitcher Lance Lynn; Pete Kozma (spent last year in AA Springfield) and as mentioned, Maikel Cleto (low A last year).

A few more fleeting thoughts…

  • Even if the camera adds 10 pounds, I say Lance Lynn still packed on an extra cheeseburger or 50 since I watched him strikeout 16 batters in his PCL Championship game last September.  Noticeably heftier. (I’m a dietitian. I notice this stuff.)
  • Maikel Cleto can throw hard and fast.  Great.  But in my opinion, he should be refining his control back in Memphis.  He didn’t look ready.  My nerves were shot from watching his 7th inning.  Someone remind me, why he was called up so quickly?     note: after I wrote this and before it was posted, moves were made by the Cardinals that included optioning Cleto back to AA Springfield.  Cleto skips Memphis on his way back as well?  I will just be content to be confused on the whole Cleto promotion idea.  onward…
  • our defense…..  *sigh*

On a happier note:   This weekend the Memphis Redbirds are heading my way to play a 4-game series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks. *happy dance*  I keep trying to convince my family how amazingly wonderful this is – the chance to see the young guys on the verge of breaking into the Majors, to watch them play in a more relaxed environment, the opportunity to begin building early baseball memories of these players.

….They just pat me on the head and give me an understanding smile.  But they do go to the games with me.  Win/win.  😉

It’s ok though.  Even if they aren’t quite the baseball fanatics that I am, I plan to keep dragging them to the ballpark. And someday soon, when we are again watching another baby bird make his Major League debut, they’ll feel that special excitement that comes from remembering these AAA games.

Viva El Baby Birds!….and Go Cardinals!

Catching Baby Birds

If you are just here for the Memphis pictures today, I totally understand. Scroll down and check out our AAA baseball boys on their way to a championship!  However, in order to create a post through which to weave these pictures, I had to fill up the rest of today’s space with some words.
So… let me tell you a story.  It is about the Friday night I spent with the boys from Memphis. 
For those of you who might not already know: I absolutely REVEL in the opportunity to watch the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals’ AAA affiliate, affectionately termed the Baby Birds) when they come to my hometown of Oklahoma City. Last weekend’s Memphis game was the icing on my personal cake for two reasons.
First, Memphis was playing OKC in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) Playoffs and had already grabbed a 2-game lead in the best of five series. Friday would be game 3 and their chance to sweep. 
Second, I would be returning to the ballpark with another press pass (thanks to my favorite i70baseball editor, Bill) and was crazy-thrilled because once again I would have great views, unlimited access and a spot so close to the dugout, I would be sharing the same air as the ballplayers.    *Breathe in. Breathe out.* 
Friday night’s ballgame was a definite doozy! The Baby Birds did indeed get the win and Memphis hurler Lance Lynn pitched his way to a new franchise record with 16 strikeouts. I am also happy to report: I did not hyperventilate, no restraining orders were issued and Joe Mather’s personal space was not violated. The fact that I was slightly “under the weather” may have limited my enthusiasm, but no little germ could keep me away from the ballpark that night.
Yes, some of my favorite Memphis players were absent – Jon Jay, Tyler Greene, Matt Pagnozzi, Bryan Anderson and Nick Stavinoha are all now up in St. Louis with the Cardinals while Shane Robinson remained on the DL (since May) with a shoulder injury.  Thankfully Daniel Descalso was manning shortstop for the Baby Birds (great glove, fun to watch), and Jim Rapoport continues to be another prime reason to be a Redbird fan (chick comment).  But selfishly I was most glad to see Joe Mather and Allen Craig still slumming it in the minors. (Sorry guys!)
Unlike my first media pass adventure when the photo targets were ballplayers unknown to me, this time we had history.  Names and faces from ballgames past were right next to me.  It was glorious!
The Best Laid Plans
As this was my second ballpark adventure with a Golden Ticket (media pass), my rookie fears about the how’s and where’s had vanished.  I knew the layout. My plan of attack was simple: be there when the press gates opened (2 ½ hours before the game) and get on the field to snag several glorious batting practice photos.  I had envisioned the possible scenarios so many times in my mind that when my mental script hit a snag (i.e. batting practice was OVER by the time I got there), I was momentarily stunned.  
But ballplayers were on the field, and I recovered my senses quickly.
Moving on.  No batting practice…
Adjusting the plan, I set up shop in the shady right field bleachers and watched the pitchers warming up. I even talked briefly with one of the Memphis coaches and immediately spilled the beans.  It is virtually impossible for me to keep my love of baseball under wraps.  
Me: “Are you going to win today?”
Memphis Coach: “Of course!  Are you a Memphis fan?”
Me: “YES!…… but don’t tell anyone…  
       (laughing) I am supposed to be impartial.”
The coach assured me he would keep my secret, and if you can’t trust a MiLB coach, who can you trust?  😉
No cheering when you are at the ballpark with a press pass?  Well, that rule was broken in less than 10 minutes.  But I rationalized that away as a minor violation because my lapse into baseball fandom occurred during pregame warm-ups and there was only one witness – and he isn’t talking!    
Blabber mouth
Without batting practice to keep me busy, I wandered the stadium, visited the press box to collect lineup and roster information and then met my family for dinner.  About 30 minutes before game time, I headed back down to the field and staked my claim in the photo well by the visitor dugout (of course) just in time to watch the Redbirds ascend from the clubhouse, up through the dugout and onto the field to sign autographs.  Another gal with a camera-to-die-for was in the dugout talking to Joe Mather.  When Joe pranced out onto the field, I had to know.  Who was she?  (More importantly…. How do I get a job like that?!)
Filling me in, she told me of her role as a team photographer, mentioning that she had to pay her own way to Oklahoma City – as well as to the series in Iowa where the Redbirds clinched their spot in the playoffs.  I asked where fans could see photos from the champagne celebration in Iowa, but learned that when a photographer pays their own way to a game, the pictures taken are the property of the photographer instead of the team.  

Translation: no Memphis champagne celebration photos for us. 
Talking with her was such fun that once again, I felt compelled to fess up and lay my fan cards on the table.  The Memphis boys may never know I was their biggest fan in the stadium that evening, but my intentions had now been officially registered with two appropriate Memphis personnel. 


Conflicted and Oblivious
Those are the two words that pop into my mind when asked how it was to experience the game as a photographer instead of a fan. 

Conflicted – I watched from afar as my family enjoyed the game from seats behind the Memphis dugout.  My kids got autographs before the game, but this time I would be an observer instead of a participant.  A player tossed a game ball over the dugout to my daughter when he noticed she was wearing a Memphis Redbirds jersey (not many of those in Oklahoma.)  And my clan celebrated and cheered our Baby Birds each time they stepped to the plate. There were many moments that night when my empty seat there in the stands beckoned me.  I was sorely missing those special fan experiences.


Oblivious – At the end of the evening, my amazing Hubby kindly filled me in on an incredible game fact: Memphis’ starting pitcher Lance Lynn had thrown SIXTEEN strikeouts.
During my stint behind a camera lens I was entirely isolated from game discussion.  That works great for focusing on the moments on the field, but is horrible for the ‘big picture.’  It was suddenly clear to me why I had not captured any diving defensive gems  – no baserunners tends to limit flashy gloves and defensive plays, and 16 K’s severely restricts the number of potential baserunners.  I was entirely unaware of the magnitude of the pitching feat while jockeying for good photos.  


So, if I ever get the chance again, I will find a way & listen to the game broadcast. Being oblivious to drama like that?  Unacceptable for a true baseball fan, er… uh… a photographer.  😉
Mission Accomplished:
Amazing ballgame.  Unmatchable experience. I had more fun than I deserved. I did my best professional photographer impersonation and (thanks to my tough little camera and a magical new lens) came home with some pictures I love.  I will try not to get all mushy about it, but I have to say that for a gal who lives and breathes baseball (especially Cardinal and Memphis baseball), I felt as though I had gone to heaven.  The opportunity to be on the grass for the action and close enough to the dugout to hear players and coaches discuss strategy during the game will be a memory I will cherish.  I hope for many more!

Since I have now typed enough words to fill this space with a spattering of beautiful baseball boys, I will close this out. 

But I will be crossing my fingers for another Golden Ticket and a Memphis return next Tuesday night.  



Looking Ahead:
The Cardinals may be faltering in the final moments of 2010, but our Memphis Redbirds are pushing full-steam ahead.  This week they will be taking on Tacoma in the PCL Championship Series September 14th-19th at Memphis’ Autozone Park.
When these Redbirds win their second consecutive PCL Championship title (yes, I am that confident in my Baby Birds), they will return to Oklahoma City for the AAA Championship game on September 21st.
So, if you are in need of a boost to renew your Cardinal baseball postseason fervor, keep your eyes and ears on the Memphis Redbirds. 
Their website is here:
You can see more photos of the Memphis Redbirds’ Friday night game at my Baseball Digest twitter account : @Erika4Baseball or here on twitpic.



Viva El Baby Birds!!!  =)
If you would like to read more, the story of my unbelievably fun first media pass adventure can be found here on i70baseball.com. I am thrilled to share with you photos from the Memphis playoff game in today’s Diamond Diaries post, but kindly ask that the photos not be used or redistributed without permission.  Thank you! 



The Week People Forgot About Baseball

What a depressing week to be a baseball fan. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still going to watch the games, cheer for the boys, and hope for what is now getting to be dangerously close to mathematically impossible. But people keep talking about football… I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the season to be over. I’m not ready for baseball to be over. I’m not ready for Sportscenter to be 35 minutes of football, 10 minutes of hockey, 10 minutes of basketball and the last 5 for a quick baseball drop-in.

The Cardinals are playing the CUBS! Remember when we used to get excited about this?

No? You don’t?

Well I do.

Guess what else?

Adam Wainwright is on the mound today.

Who? Hey, he’s one of our aces. He’s fighting for a chance at the Cy Young. Yeah, starting to ring a few bells in there? I hope so.

More things to watch? That Albert Pujols guy is still pretty good. He’s still leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs, and intentional walks (I didn’t even look this one up – I’m just assuming).

Did you know that Brendan Ryan is 9 for his last 20? He’s riding a 5 game hitting streak, which isn’t a lot, but it is for Brendan this year!

In minor league news…

  • AAA – Memphis starts their best of 5 PCL championship series tonight against Tacoma. In the off chance that Waino has a rough outing, I’d advise jumping over to a Memphis broadcast to see how that game is going!
  • AA – Springfield’s season ended last night against NW Arkansas in the North Division playoffs. They ended the season with a regular season record of 76 wins!
Head on over to Baseball Digest and check out the numbers on what happens by the numbers when the Cards score runs.
Game time is 7:15. Go Waino! Beat the Cubs! 🙂

A Dream Come True….

Go take pictures of ballplayers over the holiday weekend?

 Why, yes… of course I will
Who am I supposed to take pictures of? 
Don’t worry… here’s a list.
And so began my first photo assignment, taking pictures of the AAA Omaha Royals for i70baseball.com during last weekend’s series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks.
The opportunity to take pictures with the freedom a press credential provides was an offer dreams are made of. Yet there I was, headed into a ballpark where I had been many times, with a media pass, player access and roaming privileges. I could hop into photo wells alongside the dugouts to get those up-close bench shots shielded from public view.  And when the players were stretching and tossing balls before the game, I had the freedom to walk right out onto the field. As a fan who has always been stuck behind the gate, the thrill of experiencing baseball from beyond that jail was hard to contain.
Admittedly, I was nervous. Would I mess up?  Get in trouble?  Do something wrong?  Would I stand out like the rookie I was?
Before heading out on my inaugural media pass adventure, I had decided on several personal rules of conduct.  I wanted to make a good impression, but I also wanted to make sure this would not be my last chance to attend a game with a press credential.
Rule #1: No Cheering from the press box or photo wells.
Rule #2:  Do not dress like a fan.
Rule #3: Maintain professional distance.
… Rule #3 didn’t last very long!  😉
The weekend was quite an adventure for a baseball-loving gal such as myself.  I met broadcasters, got tips from a real pro photographer from Baseball America, met the Royals’ superstar prospect and cheated on my Memphis Redbirds for just a few days.
And like any good lead in should, I hope this leaves you wanting to read more.
Today i70baseball.com published the full story of my media pass adventure including pictures and stories about the fun I had photographing the boys of the AAA Omaha Royals.
You can read more by clicking the link:  “The Omaha Challenge
Or by copying/pasting this address:  http://www.i70baseball.com/?p=3225
Thanks for reading!
This weekend I will be even more excited to use my second media pass when our Memphis Redbirds (aka Babybirds) take on the OKC Redhawks in the best-of-5 American Conference Championship playoffs.  Games 3 through 5 will be played in Oklahoma City starting Friday.
GO MEMPHIS!!!!!
And GO CARDS!  😉

Trade Time Trepidation

This is the first year that I have known enough about the mid season trade period to be interested in the process.  Well, interested may be too mild of a word.  Anxiety-ridden may be closer to the truth. Hearing rumors that one of my favorite players is about to be traded makes me a tad nervous. 
(Brendan Ryan did survive the Roy Oswalt trade circus, so I am breathing easier again.)
Yesterday the trade gates opened and players started shuffling. The Cardinals did not grab pitcher Roy Oswalt even though reports made it seem that Roy would have preferred St. Louis.  No, he ended up in Philadelphia, moving young Phillies pitcher J.A.Happ (and two other minor league prospects) to Houston.  The Astros then turned right around and traded one of those prospects to Toronto in exchange for…. Brett Wallace. 
That trade would have passed by quietly for me except that I recognized Brett Wallace from 2009 when I watched him play as a then-Cardinals prospect with the AAA Memphis Redbirds.  Last year Wallace left the nest in the trade for one of my new favorite Cardinals, Matt Holliday. So, I did not hold a grudge very long.
In the grand scheme of things, this shuffling around of players has actually increased my love of baseball – much to the dismay of my husband.  (He married a gal who could not have cared less about sports and now has a DVR’d program list full of nothing but baseball.)
Thanks to trades and waivers and all the baseball musical chairs,  I have quite a few “step-teams” merely because they have my former Cardinals on the roster.  Rick Ankiel now wears a Kansas City Royals uniform.  Jimmy Edmonds is a Milwaukee Brewer.  Troy Glaus plays for the Braves. The Toronto Blue Jays ended up with our spunky shortstop David Eckstein back in 2008, took our Gold Glove third baseman Scott Rolen in 2009 and then snatched Jarrett Hoffpauir off waivers back in November.  Now Eckstein plays for the San Diego Padres, and Scotty is my only bright side of watching highlights from our current rival, the Cincinnati Reds. 

For those of us without years of baseball history under our belts, all this moving around of players can certainly be shocking and frustrating as we start to love a team. 
However now I am learning it is fun, as a new baseball fan, when I recognize an ‘old’ name from the 2006- 2009 Cardinals.  Mostly it’s the pitchers who have been traded away and pop up in random games or baseball news, names like Marquis, Weaver, Reyes, Piniero, Wellemeyer, Isringhausen, and Flores; but also former players like Adam Kennedy, Cesar Izturis, Julio Lugo, Mark DeRosa, and Ronnie Belliard. 


What this constant shuffling of players has taught me is that baseball is a small world.  The more I watch, the more I learn and the more players and teams I develop a connection to. 
So, IF the unspeakable happens and one of my dear Cardinals (or Memphis ‘BabyBirds’) is suddenly shipped off in exchange for some brand new face in the next 48 hours, I will try to remember I may be losing a Cardinal, but I will also be gaining a new step-team.

Who am I kidding, that won’t help!  😉


Joe and Me

There are a few Cardinals ballplayers that I absolutely LOVE to watch: David Freese, Brendan Ryan and “Hunky” Matt Holliday top my favorites list. When a player makes that list, he is usually there to stay, such as dear Yadier Molina – who sparked my love for the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2006.
Other players wearing the Birds on the Bat get my support and my fan love too of course; but sometimes there are players that I just have not found a connection with. Joe Mather has been one of those guys… until this past Wednesday night.


My impression of Joe Mather has been clouded by previous, albeit limited, in-person observations. Last year Joe was recovering from injury, working his way back in AAA. He was frustrated at the plate and in the field, and his mood reflected that frustration. When the Memphis Redbirds came to Oklahoma – yes, I am an Okie – Joe would run right past the waiting fans, dashing straight into the dugout without so much as a glance.
During Spring Training in Florida this year I asked Joe for an autograph. He just shook his head and said “later,” but never returned. Of course, I understood. Players cannot always stop to sign autographs or talk with fans. They have jobs to do. But because of these less-than-encouraging impressions of Joe Mather, my interest in cheering for him has been somewhat lackluster.
My kids, on the other hand, have taken a real liking to Joe Mather, probably because I have shared with them the hilarious Brendan Ryan home videos (with sidekick Joe) from the FSMW website. So, when Joe Mather was optioned to AAA Memphis this past week my kids were thrilled. You see, the Memphis Redbirds were visiting our local Oklahoma City Redhawks for a four game series and we already had tickets.

The kiddos have learned that with just a little extra effort, they can improve their chances for an autograph.So with handmade signs reading “JOE MATHER,” they waited patiently by the 1st base side of the stands during the pre-game warm-ups.


Tyler Greene – always smiling and willing to sign a baseball – trotted right over to visit with us, but Joe Mather was nowhere to be seen.
Just when I thought Joe might disappoint us yet again, he came onto the field, ran some drills, saw the signs and headed our way. While signing baseballs, Joe perked up when I joked how nice it was for him to grow a mustache too, in support of his Cardinals teammate Brendan Ryan (who credits growing a mustache with helping him break out of a slump.) Joe laughed and talked with us a bit about Brendan. That fun interaction made up for all the past “Grumpy Joe” moments I had witnessed.


During Wednesday’s game, Joe had quite a few Cardinals fans cheering him on. By the middle of the game, Joe was smiling as he jogged to and from the dugout, past our seats. And by the end of the game, the Redbirds had won and Joe was celebrating in the outfield with teammates Allen Craig and Jim Rapoport. It was great to see a “Happy Joe” having fun playing baseball in my hometown!
But the story doesn’t end there. I was living the dream when, after the on-field celebrations had ended, Joe Mather went into the dugout, fished out a game ball and looked in my direction. (Our front row seats gave us a clear view of the covered dugout.) Joe caught my eye, pointed to me, and lobbed me that baseball, up and over the dozen or so fans between us. Thankfully I caught the baseball with some modicum of grace, and looked back at Joe. He smiled a great big grin, waved goodbye, and then headed down the dugout steps and out of sight.
Thanks, Joe! 
 Welcome to the list!    =)

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