I feel like I always start my posts with the statement, “I’m not gonna lie…”, BUT I’m not going to lie, although it has been a bit since the announcement, it’s taken me a short while to get over the fact that the Puma is retiring. You may be asking yourself, “What the heck is this girl talking about? Who’s the Puma?” Well, if you know me, you know he’s my favorite. My favorite old school guy; the guy I ALWAYS looked forward to coming up to the plate: Lance Berkman.
I would be remissed not to dedicate this post to one of my other favorite people, a member of my little fam, my youngest brother-in-law. If Berkman ever stated anything life changing, made a move, took a breath, I would get a text from him. Long story short, I dedicate this one to you, Zach. You’re the best.
Moving on…I have to say this: when Lance Berkman was signed as a Card, I just about lost it. Say what you will, but I was immensely excited when he became a Cardinal. Although he was a member of the “killer B’s” in Houston, he was always one of my personal cherished members of major league baseball. He was one of those guys who I always absolutely hated as a hitter when he came up against the Cardinals. It was always one of those hold-your-breath moments. Then, when he signed on our side, I was elated.
I would also be remissed if I did not talk about what I told that little brother what I would mention: the fact that he was a secret hero of game 6. You know, THAT game 6. If you’re a fan, you know what I’m talking about. Sure, sure, he wasn’t the actual Freese-hero, but he was still the little hero guy, which was kind of his MO. He may not have always been the go ahead favorite, but he was always involved in the act.
About a year and a half ago, I was blessed enough to be able to travel to Wrigley for the first time. I know what you’re thinking; the girl who is writing this is just now getting to Wrigley? Yep, it happens. Anywho, my husband and I made it there (which is a gluten-free friendly baseball park, if you’re into that sort of thing), and the only thing I could concentrate on was how Berkman played first. Yes, he played first that game.
I really should have prefaced this post with the fact that when I was a kid, I had the best dad in the history of dads. We could fight about it, but mine wins. My dad (and I’m going to go on my brag train for a bit here) was scouted by both the Yankees and the Cards as a first baseman. My dad (who is a father of two girls, mind you) taught me everything he knew about playing first base. To put it in lamens terms, he taught me about footwork and working with the throw from the infielders. One of these days, I’m going to ask him how he learned this, but at press time, I’m baffled–don’t worry, Dad, still our little secret. I’m just going to say, the only player I’ve ever seen pull the footwork tricks I know is Lance Berkman. This kind of thing, it made me giddy.
Going back to our trip to Wrigley, I took about a million pics of Berkman playing out on the field. I guess you could consider me a groupie. It made me very sad that he announced his retirement, in January, just as we are gearing up for the 2014 season.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to see or hear the quotes from this Puma, but let me share with you some of my best-loved:
– “They were chanting my name, but I don’t know why. My name is on the back of my uniform. So, it’s nice to know they can read.”
-“It’s always about the money. No matter what people say, it’s always about the money.”
– One of his very first nicknames was “Fat Elvis,” but, needless to say, he didn’t like that too terribly much, so here’s where “Puma” came from: “‘How about Puma?’ one of the guys asked. ‘That’s perfect!’ Berkman said. ‘Lean and quick. Yep, that’s me. From now on, I want to be known as ‘Puma’.”
– “Really, in a Home Run Derby, (fans) don’t care if the guy is on steroids.”
Just a little bit of the Yogi Berra of our time, but still, he’s pretty good at the quotes.
I will miss you, Lance Berkman, and even if you don’t go into the Hall of Fame in a few years as a Cardinal, baseball will miss you. All of us in Cardinal Nation wish you the best, thanks for the memories.
As always…Go Cards!