Beth Jacks column

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 5, 2011

Grandmother becomes immediate fan of grandson’s favorite player

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too. ~ Greg, age 8
My seven grandchildren call me “Bebe” or “Beebs,” but Wilkins (9), the family clown, calls me whatever pops in his head.

“Dear Sweet Grandma,” he e-mailed the other day, “how about we get Pop to take us to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play the Rockies in a couple of weeks?”

This sounded like a plan since this is the summer Wilkins and his equally funny twin brother, Jacks, are supposed to make their “special trip” – a treat for each grandchild when they turn 9 years old. We were about to give up on a date for this summer because these two hotshot baseball players made All-Stars and have had no room in their busy June/July schedule for a trip.     

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Finally, though, baseball season was over with just enough time before school started to squeeze in a long weekend at . . . where else? A ballpark. Busch Stadium. Cardinals! So the tickets were purchased and hotel rooms reserved. We were set.

The only problem might be communication. Bebe loves Little League, high school and college baseball, but Major League? I don’t dislike Minor and Major League ball, I just don’t follow it, resulting in my knowing nothing about the Cardinals players. I’m equally ignorant about the Rockies. How will I discuss the goings-on with the twins if I know nothing?

I decided to call Wilkins and Jacks for an interview. Surely they could get me up to snuff. Wilkins answered.

“Honey, this is Bebe. I need to ask you some questions – like why did you and Jacks decide you want to go see the Cardinals?” (Stupid question!)

“Bebe, dontcha know?” he said. “The Cardinals have great players like Albert [couldn’t catch the last name] and Matt Holliday and a lot more.”

“Oh,” I said, “Umm, Wilks, could you spell Albert’s last name?”

“No,” he said, “I think he’s Mexican or something like that. I can’t even pronounce it.” Well, thought I, surely there’s only one Albert on the team. I’ll have to research that.

“Bebe,” he said, “I have to go to the bathroom. Here’s Jacks.”

“Hey, Jacks, give me more details about the Cardinals. Bebe needs to learn something about them before we go to St. Louis.”

“Well,” said Jacks, “The Cardinals are just about our favorite team because they’ve got good players like Albert P(mumble, mumble).”

“I guess you can’t spell that last name for me, huh, Jacks?”

“Nope. I don’t know where he’s from, but I know he buys his bats in Baton Rouge. He says that’s the best place to buy bats ‘cause they make ‘em from real wooden trees. And the Cardinals have the best stadium in the Major Leagues. Busch Stadium. That’ll be fun. And we’re gonna take our gloves so we can catch some home runs. That’ll be cool.”

I started to say that will probably be the only thing that’s cool on that hot August weekend, but I didn’t want to dampen his enthusiasm.

Following this bit of enlightenment, I fired up the computer and went to to read more about the Cardinals and find Albert’s last name. It’s Pujols. Originally from the Dominican Republic, he’s an infielder and has been the National League’s Most Valuable Player three times in the last ten years. He was selected by as the greatest player of the decade from 2000 – 2009.

Well then, I became Albert P’s #1 fan and looked forward to ducking his home run balls while I chowed down on a hotdog or two. And the heat? Pop and I would ignore it – the excitement in the boys’ faces will more than make up for any discomfort.

Does anybody have childhood summertime memories that don’t include baseball? I bet not. And we wore our redbird caps . . . and made some of those memories.

Hit one for Beebs, Albert!