(Author's note: I was prompted to write this after the Cards vs. Cubs game Friday night. I met my brother for the first time after that game. And I was surrounded by my friends from the bleachers when it happened. See, life changing events do happen around baseball.)
People often wonder how a motley crew from various corners of the state can grow from being baseball fans who just happen to sit in the same section of a stadium to a sort of family. Over the last ten years, I've been a St. Louis Cardinals season ticket holder and I've experienced the transition from a fan enjoying a Sunday afternoon with like-minded people to a member of the St. Louis Cardinals family.
Sharing high fives and hugs and toasting with giant cups of beer organically brings people together. Bonding through the joys of victory is natural and normal. Disappointing losses, bad calls and mutually hated rivals run a close second to happy times when it comes to creating connection among sports fans.
But, in the course of a season, life still happens. In between games, and sometimes during games, life-changing events occur and thanks to timing season ticket holders, who spend a good portion of their weeks around one another, end up sharing those moments with each other. Engagements, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, new jobs, new homes, personal wins and losses... They happen. And baseball goes on and sometimes your fellow baseball fans help extend the happiness of those moments or help you through the tough times.
Throughout our ten years, we've lost two bleacher friends and two players that we loved to tragic untimely deaths. We've watched most of the guys get married and some of them get divorced. There have been many babies born. Some of us have been unemployed together and many have changed jobs. We've made new friends and heckled many a right fielder from the Reds or the Astros or the Brewers. We've laughed immeasurably, cried many tears, hugged a lot and sometimes hated each other. We've traveled to other states to see our boys play, celebrated year after year in playoff runs and enjoyed the sweetest victory of a World Series. Tragedy and comedy, victory and loss, happiness and sadness... We have been through it all. Together. And sometimes it was about baseball. And sometimes it was just about life.