Fall means America’s pastime and hunting“So, how about those St. Louis Cardinals?” I ask the young guy who is handing out towels at the health club. (The Cardinals had just defeated the Braves in a one-game “series.”)
By: Bernie Kuntz, The Jamestown Sun
“So, how about those St. Louis Cardinals?” I ask the young guy who is handing out towels at the health club. (The Cardinals had just defeated the Braves in a one-game “series.”)
“Uh … I’m not much of a baseball fan,” he answers. End of conversation. Better that answer, though, rather than a snarky comeback about the “boring” game of baseball, a typical observation from soccer fans. My reply to them is, “Well, you have to be smart enough to understand the game.” (And don’t get me started on soccer!) In baseball an almost infinite number of actions can occur with every pitch. I find that intriguing.
I should point out that I have been a baseball fan since I was a small boy, and a Cardinal fan since the days of Stan Musial. I can’t tell you who won the Super Bowl the year before last, but I can recite the Cardinal’s lineup from 1964. That’s the year they had the All-Star infield and won the World Series.
I still have Stan Musial’s “hit record,” as it was called, circa 1960. (It didn’t do me any good — I was a “B” team third baseman who still is awestruck that a human can actually hit a pitched baseball traveling 95 mph!) But if I had access to something that would play a 33-1/3 RPM record, I’d crank it up just to listen to the late Harry Caray, the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Here’s Musial!” he’d bellow into the microphone. On the old record is “Stan-the-Man,” as fans called him, lining his 3,000th hit, and winning a long ago all-star game by blasting a home run into the right field seats in the 10th inning. (Musial, a hall of famer who had a .331 lifetime batting average, is in his 90s these days and still lives in St. Louis.)
My love for baseball has been a problem every fall as I have tried to watch as many games as possible, and still go hunting. A typical October has looked like this — hunt pheasants in the CRP fields of northeastern Montana, dash back to the Sherwood Inn in Plentywood, drink beer while watching baseball in the evening as tired Labradors stretch out on the bed.
Things have been more difficult the years I hunted in southeastern Montana. Once or twice I stayed in a motel in Broadus where I could watch evening games, but usually Laurie and I were camped in a tent 35 miles from town. In that part of the country, you can’t even get a radio station let alone think about TV.
Last year we were once again in the tent, and I suggested we drive in to Broadus on a certain weekday night to have a pizza and watch a playoff game. Wouldn’t you know, the pizza place, which makes some of the best pizza I have eaten anywhere, was closed one night a week — the night I chose to come to town. We did catch the playoff game at a local bar, and yes, the Cardinals won.
This year I elected to stay home in October and it has been a gut-wrenching experience. I smell that autumn air and I want to be pheasant hunting, but my back is telling me that it is a bit early to be following Labradors in the heavy cover of a creek bed this soon after surgery.
The only good thing I can say about my decision is that I can watch baseball uninterrupted. I haven’t missed a game and don’t plan to. It’s been a delicious luxury to watch baseball on a big screen TV from my easy chair rather than on a substandard motel TV.
So, how about those Cardinals?
Bernie Kuntz, a Jamestown native, has been an Outdoors Columnist for the Sun since 1974