A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
~ Nick Griesbach
As another Major League Baseball season starts and the final game of the night begins, St. Louis Cardinals against the Arizona Diamondbacks, I start to reminisce on the reason I started to follow the sport of baseball in the first place. It was not because I had played the game throughout my adolescence or because it was my dream to be a professional ball player as a child. It was not because of the tradition of it all, or that I thought it was the “Great American Past Time” it was for two simple reasons that will for me always be linked, Wallace Lenzner and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Many people who know me will on occasion spot me wearing a Chicago White Sox cap and if anyone has been lucky enough to take a trip with me to the local mall they will usually see me B-line towards the nearest Lids Locker Room and once I enter the store I yell to the nearest worker “you guys have any white sox stuff” which they usually reply by saying “we just have hats”, but I digress. The reason for my admiration of baseball does not stem from growing up watching the White Sox. It was from seeing my grandfather’s loyalty to the same franchise the St. Louis Cardinals, this love that lasted over seventy years.
My grandfather Wally Lenzner was born on October 28th, 1928, at a young age he was able to enjoy the game when it was still the golden age of baseball and the “National Past time”. Every aspect of his life it seemed baseball was a part of it. The reason why he took a liking to the Cardinals is still unknown, yet no one can doubt his adoration for them.
He lived in the small rustic town of Hortonville in the state of Wisconsin; all of his life this town was a place where many of the high school boys were expected to work on the family farm, and it was the same for him. He remembered turning on the radio to hear the games, while he would drive the tractor and bail hay or listen to the game while he milked and fed cattle. He joined the United States Navy after high school and when he had the chance he would try to listen to the “red bird’s” game on the radio. When he left the Navy he got married and was a father to eight kids, he later built a farm of his own. He would teach his kids how to play baseball in the summer in-between tending to his farm. When he would feed his livestock, his neighbor who was a Chicago Cubs fan would come to help him, and with the rivalry between their teams it would help them build a friendship.
The talent he witnessed play for the Cardinals in his lifetime must have been incredible with names such as, Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter in 1940’s and 50’s, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock in the 60’s and 70’s, and Ozzie Smith in the 80’s. He also saw the historic homerun record chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and they won nine World Series championships in his lifetime. Two of his sons, Scott and Keith are big baseball fans Scott being the oldest was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan and Keith was a Milwaukee Brewers fan. I always wondered why my Grandfather was not a Brewers fan himself; after all, he had lived his entire life in Wisconsin. The answer to that question was simple the Brewers were not a franchise when he began following baseball. They had just emerged as a ball club in 1970. As the years went on my older brother Jeremy would begin to watch the games with my grandfather as well as dress me in a St. Louis Cardinals jacket when I was a toddler, that same jacket now belongs to my nephew Gavin. My Grandpa was even so well received as a Cardinals fan that the St. Louis Cardinals organization would send him gifts including a replica 2006 World Series Championship ring. My grandfather later on would succumb to poor health due to Pneumonia, the last memory my mother has of her father is of him asking her to turn on the Cardinals game. Members of my family might wear different team’s colors, but because of him, in our hearts we are all Cardinals fans.
He passed away on June 7th 2011, The Cardinals would go on to have an improbable post season run, which culminated with them toppling the Texas Rangers in seven games and winning the World Series on October 28th 2011.