Purr-fect time for Cardinals to make postseason run

Purr-fect time for Cardinals to make postseason run

By Eric Becker

The Write Team

CARLINVILLE (August 17, 2017) – When the infamous rally squirrel ran across the field of the NLCS series between Philadelphia and St. Louis in 2011, it marked the first time I can remember that a team used a live animal as a catalyst for success. The Cardinals eventually won that series in an unfortunate set of circumstances, which also in turn led to the demise of what had been a five-year run of success in Philadelphia.

I never gave much thought to the rally squirrel until the other night, watching but for a minute, the Royals-Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.

This time, the critter in question was a cat, scampering out to the center field fence in the seventh inning of a game against the Royals.

A member of the grounds crew went out and was able to get to the cat, although getting all the way back to the third base grandstand from centerfield with a scared cat is a very dangerous job indeed.

Thankfully, everybody is okay. The cat was last seen wondering downtown, escaping one woman’s attempt to nab the critter. But a couple days later, it appears as if the kitty in question had been captured near the city garden area of twon.

On the very next pitch after the cat delay, Yadier Molina hit a grand slam which would win the game for the Cardinals. Can’t make this stuff up. I’m not a Cardinals fan by any stretch, but that set of circumstances that played out on TV was flat out awesome to see. Well played, kitty. Well played.

Now we got the rally cat. Hats and shirts to come, I’m sure. I’ve just been informed Sept. 10 is rally cat appreication day at Busch Stadium, and I so happen to have a ticket to the game that day. Whoo-Hoo!

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Depressed, for sure, to learn about the passing of former big league catcher Darren “Dutch” Daulton at age 55 from brain cancer last week.

Playing mainly for Philadelphia, Daulton was the heart and soul of the 1993 miracle pennant winning team that defied even this fan’s expectations.

The Phils finished 1992 in last place and were even picked my some to finish seventh in ‘93, even behind the expansion Florida Marlins. However, I was somewhat more optimistic than pessimistic heading into that year, I fondly recall. Which in itself is a miracle, because I’m almost always the pessimist.

As a sports fan, following the 1993 baseball season was the best ever.  No year or sport even comes close.  It was even much more satisfying a season than the 2008 Phillies that won it all or the 2013 Seahawks which won the Super Bowl.

Daulton was a leader, plain and simple. He suffered from bad knees  and other various ailments that a catcher deals with year in and year out.

He was a wonderful person and as a player and we will all be worse off not having him around. I still have many of his baseball cards, including an autographed 1986 Topps card that I sent him one year in the mail and so happened to have it returned with the autograph.

He is one of my top three all-time Phillie players that I have seen play since I became a fan in 1981. Michael Jack Schmidt and Jim Thome are also in my top three, with Michael Jack my top athlete ever in any sport.

During that 1993 season, in a late June afternoon game on the astroturf of the old Busch Stadium, I was in the bleachers watching the Philles play the Cardinals.

Curt Schilling got lit up like a Christmas tree, allowing something like 10 runs in less than three innings. Brian Jordan hit a grand slam. The Cardinals easily won and closed the gap on those first place Phillies.

After the game, Daulton called out the team for the poor performance.  Called it “embarrassing.”

The team didn’t fold. They went back to its winning ways and later that summer completed a three-game series sweep of the Cardinals in Philadelphia, which buried St. Louis. Montreal wound up being the last division hurdle to win the team’s  first division title in a decade.

They went on to win the pennant in a stunner over heavily favored Atlanta, before losing on Joe Carter’s series ending walkoff home run on, – quite frankly –  a sad, somber, Saturday evening in late October. I sat in my dorm room at Eastern Illinois University watching that with great pain and not understading why it had to end that way.

It was a wonderful season with wonderful memories with a team full of misfits that other teams didn’t want. They banded together and had quite the run. Without Dutch, however, that season never happens. Not even close.

We will miss you Dutch. Thank you for the memories, thank you for your service to the game and to your teammates. May you rest in peace.