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October 25, 2012

RONN MOTT: Fan

I became a St. Louis Cardinals fan in 1946. They beat the Boston Red Sox that year in the World Series.

My father, who graduated from high school in 1924, became a Cardinals fan in 1926 when they beat the highly thought of New York Yankees in the World Series. He went on to be a loyal fan of the Gas House Gang in the 1930s when they won some World Series championships. So, it would be natural if I was, indeed, a Cardinals fan as I listened to the radio with my father and followed the ups and downs as the Cardinals won or lost. I was almost named after a Gas House Gang ballplayer. Dad wanted to name me Pepper Martin Mott. My mother’s maiden name was Martin and of course it was too early, but what a great radio name that would have been. As it was, I got the “Pepper” part anyway because at KIOA in Des Moines, Dr. Pepper, the soft drink, was coming to Iowa and they wanted me to be Ronn Pepper. And that helped the sales staff get a fat deal out of Dr. Pepper sponsoring my late-night radio show.

My wife and I are both fans of the St. Louis team and were excited last year when, for the 11th time, they won the whole shootin’ match. In 2011, it was their 11th championship.

They had the best player in the big leagues at that time, Albert Pujols. They had, for certain, a Hall of Fame manager. Only two managers in the history of the game have won more games than Tony La Russa. Throw in a great pitching coach, a general manager who knows how to make deals, and it was a good organization top to bottom. I don’t want to forget the fans that fill the stadium nearly every, single game.

Albert Pujols got terribly greedy and fled the warm embrace of what is called Cardinal Nation. Tony La Russa retired. The great pitching coach left to attend to very important family business and concerns. Some of the players that were brought in to help this team get past the loss of Albert Pujols ended up being injured … Lance Berkman injured his knee and couldn’t continue playing down the stretch, Rafael Furcal, a terrific shortstop, hurt his arm and went out. So with all of this, the Cardinals are left with players that have come up through the Cardinals’ farm system. Farm systems began back in baseball’s heyday, but haven’t served most teams as well. Players, including a young shortstop, were brought up and they filled in like troopers. We cheer for these young guys. There is a bullpen full of strong arms, and these newcomers are age 25 and younger. It bodes well for the future.

I don’t know, as I write this, if the Cardinals are going to make it to the World Series this year. But to be in the running again is a remarkable achievement. Their new manager, Mike Matheny, is one of the youngest managers in all of baseball.

I wish my dad was still here to see what is happening on the diamond for the St. Louis Cardinals. He would really be proud.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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