In May 1951 I graduated from the 8th grade, and my Aunt Mary Seat gave me one of the most memorable birthday presents I have ever received—a trip to St. Louis to see a Cardinals game. Aunt Mary, an ardent baseball fan herself, said I could ask a friend to go with me.
I invited Talmadge Hass, my good friend who was a year younger than I but also an enthusiastic Cardinals fan, to make that memorable trip with me. (He has long gone by his first name, Walter, but I knew him by his middle name, often shortened to Talm.)
That first major league game that Talm and I saw was on June 14, 1951. Sadly, the Cardinals lost that game to the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-1 on a 2-run home run by Gil Hodges in the 9th inning (you can see the box score here—and note that Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson were the opposing cleanup batters).
Aunt Mary had planned to take us for a steamboat ride on the Mississippi River the next day. But Talm and I were so disappointed that the Cardinals lost we convinced her to take us to see another Cardinals game instead. That change was made, the Cardinals won, and we were happy.
Sixty-five years and four days later, last Saturday on June 18, I met Talm in St. Louis, where he has lived in the suburbs for decades, and we went together to see another Cardinals game—which they also lost by one run with the opposing team scoring two runs in the 9th inning.
Talm even had a Cardinals shirt and cap for me to wear, as you see in this picture taken just before we left for the game:
I didn’t remember where we boarded the train for our 1951 trip to St. Louis, but Talm said we took the train from Stanberry, Mo., a town about 25 miles from our home town of Grant City—and over 300 miles from St. Louis.
The game we attended was at Sportman’s Park, which was the home for the Cardinals games from 1920 to 1966. Last week was the first time I had been in the second new stadium since then, and here is the picture I took from near where our seats were:
Aunt Mary, my father’s older sister, was born in 1907, so she would have been 44 years old in 1951. Although, like me, through the years she shifted her allegiance from the Cardinals to the Kansas City Royals, she remained a baseball fan until near the time of her death in April 2000.
Perhaps it was for a Christmas present in 1952 that Aunt Mary gave me her old typewriter after she had purchased a new one. That was a wonderful present, too, at a time when I may have been the only one in my high school who had his own typewriter.
Aunt Mary never married or had any children of her own, but through the years she made a significant impact on me and on the lives of all her nieces and nephews—especially on the lives of two of my cousins whose father died when they were fairly young.
I am grateful for the memorable trip to St. Louis in 1951, for being able to be with my old friend again this month, and especially for the memories of my wonderful Aunt Mary.