Favorite

Of birds and Cardinals 

observer1-1.jpg

The Observer's photographer pal, a born and raised St. Louisian who bleeds Cardinals red, recently got the chance to meet his idol, the great Cardinal Lou Brock, during an event at the Clinton Center. His account of that dream-meeting is a humdinger:

"Why are they booing that guy?" my little sister asked. Sisters are stupid and watching a baseball game in a packed stadium in the July heat in St. Louis is miserable, but there was nowhere I'd rather have been. I rolled my eyes and smirked. "They aren't booing him," I said. "They're chanting LOOOUUUUU!" Lou Freaking Brock was coming to the plate. Lou was 40 then — old for a baseball player, and ancient for a base stealer — and the calls for his retirement had been loud the previous year. But Lou was on a tear that season. He'd go on to hit .304 over 120 games and end his storied career with a lifetime .293 batting average. But he'd only steal 21 bases that year, 1979, his last as a player. Twenty-one was a fraction of his 1974 single-season record (at the time THE record) of 118. That record inspired a special edition Converse sneaker, the "Lou Brock 118." I had a pair, which I wore to everything but church until I just couldn't stuff my growing feet into them anymore. The stadium was fuller than usual that day, not because the Cardinals were doing well, but because this was it: Lou was leaving the sport and any game could be it. We all wanted to be there.

Last week, much older and my 118's long gone, I got an e-mail from The Boss. My assignment: Photo op at the Clinton Presidential Center for the opening of a new St. Louis Cardinals exhibit. Special guest: Lou Brock.

Lou. Freaking. Brock. I read it a couple of times. I was gonna meet Lou. I didn't tell anyone, just in case it didn't really happen. When the day came, I fumbled with my gear at the security check point. Had I remembered the right lenses? Did I put memory cards in the cameras? The guard told me to wait by the metal detector for an escort, but I'd gone almost around the corner to see if I could see Lou. As I was escorted to the waiting area in the lobby where the rest of the press was gathered, I tried to hold back a little. There's a fine line between enthusiastic fan and psycho, and I was very close to stepping over it.

Then there he was: Lou. He walked toward me, much older than I remembered and wearing his Cardinals Blazer. He put out his hand, and I shook it. "Mr. Brock," I said, "I grew up in Busch Stadium watching you play." That was all I could muster. Words failed me past that.

We were taken to the exhibit, where reporters asked all the questions you ask a legend, which can be summed up thusly: "Tell us some stories, Lou." I loved every minute of it. The other photographers and I buzzed around each other, snapping away, looking for angles, expressions, something the other guy hadn't done. The questions tapered off, and I had turned to leave when a TV photographer sped past me and said, "Hey, you should ask him to sign your hat!" My hat? MY HAT! I was wearing a St. Louis Cardinals 2011 Championship hat! I whipped the hat off my head, then walked back toward Lou and thrust it toward him like a 10-year-old trying to get his glove signed. He happily obliged, and one of the handlers took our photo. As I stepped away to leave, I noticed a display he'd been standing beside the entire time. Inside: An original pair of Lou Brock 118's, just like my once-treasured pair. Only these were on display in a presidential library, with The Man Himself standing beside them.

Standing outside watching Junior play kickball with his cousins at our Auntie's summer retreat in North Pulaski County last sunny Sunday, we were startled to see a crowd of shadows flit over us: thousands of them, enough to gray out the sun for a moment. A few seconds later, a great, dark flock passed overhead at an altitude of maybe 75 feet, the mass of tiny birds folding in and out on itself like a porous liquid suspended against the blue sky. Even with the chance of getting a nasty surprise from above, we couldn't help but stand with mouth agape for a second as they flowed over the tree line, taking their crawling, hazy shadow with them.

The world, we thought, is so beautiful at times.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016
  • Yawp

    The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.
    • Mar 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • Trump unfit

    Even as an oligarch, President Trump turns out to be breathtakingly incompetent. Is there any reason to suppose he's even loyal to the United States? Does he even understand the concept? Trump is loyal to Trump, and to his absurdly swollen ego. Nothing and nobody else.
  • You want tort reform? Try this.

    The nursing home industry and the chamber of commerce finally defeated the trial lawyers in the 2017 legislature. The Republican-dominated body approved a constitutional amendment for voters in 2018 that they'll depict as close to motherhood in goodness.
  • Goodbye, Mr. Trump

    It is hard to escape the feeling that the fortunes of President Trump and the country took a decisive, and for Trump a fatal, turn May 9-10, when the president fired the director of the FBI over its investigation of Russian efforts to swing the presidential election to him and the very next day shared top-secret intelligence with Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting closed except to a Kremlin press aide toting electronic gear to capture the intimate session for Russians but not Americans.
  • Raw feelings in the Arkansas Justice Building over workload, pay

    Strained relations between the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals broke into public view this week. I expect more to come.

Latest in The Observer

  • More bad news

    As we write this, the Little Rock City Board is readying an ordinance to make it exponentially harder for charities to feed poor and homeless people in city parks.
    • May 18, 2017
  • Art imitates life

    If you're not watching "The Handmaid's Tale" on Hulu, you should be, if your heart can stand it.
    • May 11, 2017
  • How high's the water, Momma?

    he Observer, who is lucky enough to live on the crest of a hill that will never see standing water unless the Good Lord decides to punish mankind with 40 days and 40 nights of deluge again, has watched with alarm as the folks up in North Arkansas have been inundated with rain in recent days.
    • May 4, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Entrance and North Forest to debut with Chihuly exhibit opening at Crystal Bridges

New Entrance and North Forest to debut with Chihuly exhibit opening at Crystal Bridges

Dual Chihuly exhibit opening also brings culmination of year-plus forest project

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A long way to fall

    • Nobody on this damn forum has provide one shred of proof that Ron Fields is…

    • on May 21, 2017
  • Re: A long way to fall

    • Jay C Rider is an incredible person. He is absolutely not responsible for ANY murder…

    • on May 21, 2017
  • Re: Arkansas ticks wanted

    • How do we find our local extension service office?

    • on May 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation