I have a friend who had the quite fortunate opportunity to attend a game at Fenway Park earlier this week, to take in the history of that great ballpark and what it has to offer. I pointed out to her that Babe Ruth started his career there; Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Johnny Pesky, Tony Conigliaro and so many others played there, too.
Fenway, to me, should be a part of any sports spectator’s bucket list. One of the places or things you see before you kick the bucket. I have a list of 10, and there are several I need to hit before I’m six feet under. Included in this list are items I’ve already checked off.
1) My team winning the Super Bowl. Luckily, we had the opportunity to have this happen when the Rams won in 1999. My biggest sports thrill was when the Rams won the NFC Championship Game at the Dome. The building was absolutely raucous, and I took it all in as the fans and players went crazy. The next week in Atlanta was like a blur. And during the course of that tense Super Bowl XXXIV battle, it never occurred to me that the Rams might lose. That’s one of those events, one of those moments that will be in my mind’s eye forever. I hope every football fan, at some point, gets to experience what we did.
2) My team winning the World Series. I’ve been lucky enough in adulthood (such as it is for me), to witness two championships. The one in 1982 is what I remember most strongly, because I was at Busch Stadium for every game that year. I was an usher, on the field, right next to the Cardinals dugout. Talk about bucket-list material. I fully anticipated that the Redbirds would win that year, and the excitement was palpable. Because the Cardinals hadn’t won since 1968, the scene for Game 7 was electric. It didn’t get any better for me. At that age, 20 years old, you’re able to put all of your emotions into a baseball team. There isn’t much more to worry about. So that was incredible.
The championship in 2006 was different for me. Because of their stumble down the stretch, I didn’t have any expectations of the Cardinals winning. I jumped on the bandwagon late. However, we saw again how galvanizing a winning team can be for a community. We’ve been pretty lucky here in that pretty much every generation has had a baseball world championship of its own. We never thought it would take 24 years to win again after 1982. Ask a Cubs fan if winning a World Series is on their bucket list.
3) My team winning the Stanley Cup. I get more keyed up for hockey playoffs than football or baseball. I ride a wave of emotion that takes me to anger, elation, agony, sadness and absolute joy in three hours. I can’t imagine what winning would be like here in St. Louis. The parade would be the best. The most passionate fan base in town is the Blues’ fan base. They aren’t that far away, either. I think in the next few years, we can put this one in the bucket.
4) Attending a Final Four. That was awesome. I never thought I’d get to see one until we had North Carolina, Illinois, Louisville and Michigan State in St. Louis in 2005. The anticipation of the climax of the biggest three weeks in American sports was amazing. And there are the little things, practices, all of the shops that open up around town, the hustle and bustle of the event. It lived up to every expectation I had. I’m glad St. Louis got one, and that we had the chance to live that experience.
5) Attending the Indianapolis 500. I’ve never made that four-hour trek to Indy. Even though the event isn’t what it was when I was a kid, it’s still the greatest spectacle in racing. I want to see that day, the speed, the color and pageantry, and to hear the roar of those cars. That’s definitely one I want to hit.
6) Attending the Kentucky Derby. I’m not a huge horse racing fan, but I’d love to be there for the pageantry of the Derby, too. I’d like to see what goes on; all of the women dressed up, the betting that takes place, and the rumble of the horses down the stretch. It’s the greatest two minutes in sports, and I want to witness it.
7) Attending a big-time, night-time, SEC football game. Millions of people have done this, but I haven’t. I’d love to see Tennessee, LSU, Alabama or Georgia play a big rival in a night game. I just find the look of those games to be amazing. And the capacity of those stadiums is so enormous; I want to be around to see what the biggest of big-time college football is like.
8) Attending the Masters. We saw it on TV last week. It’s so beautiful on an HD TV. I can’t imagine finding a spot in Amen Corner and settling in to watch a round at Augusta. The best players on one of the most scenic courses in the world. Incredible.
9) Attending the Major League All-Star game. I’ve done this a few times, and it’s an amazing spectacle. Seeing all of the best players in the game in the same stadium is really cool. And it’s kind of strange how, even if you dislike a player or a team, they become your player on your team when they don their jersey for the National League. Baseball does a great job of honoring their past at All-Star games, too. We had it done right in St. Louis a couple of years ago. It’s the best of all of the All-Star games. If you haven’t done it, and you ever have the ability and wherewithal to do so, see if you can get to a baseball Mid-Summer Classic.
10) Seeing games at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. I was lucky enough to do all of these. I would love to go on one of those ballpark tours and see a bunch in the same year. If you’re a fan of baseball, you want to see parks … especially the historic ones. Even the new Yankee Stadium is well worth the trip, because they’ve built it as a classic.
There are plenty of other bucket-list options. Halls of Fame are great. I’m sure many folks would like to see World Cup games, Wimbledon, the Olympics or a game at Lambeau Field. All of us are going to have our individual ideas. These are mine. Feel free to add yours.