Being a baseball fanatic and having an October birthday does not leave very many opportunities to see a live baseball game on your own birthday. Especially when residing in Chicago that chance truly does not come around to often.
A goal of mine has always been to see a World Series game in person to celebrate my birthday. On October 27th, 2011 just a week after my birthday, it was simply time to jump in the car and head toward a baseball game being played in St. Louis Missouri that night.
That night was Game 6 of the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. It was a typical cold and crisp fall night in the Midwest, but unknown at the time were the events in the air that night that were going to instill images and a sense of electricity that will not soon be forgotten.
Every season I am fortunate enough to see a good amount of games in person. An internal goal or mission is to always see something unique or something unexpected. But that night was more then even I could of imagine.
A friend and I made the 4 hour drive the morning of with the plans to simply see a baseball game. We were lucky enough to come across tickets high up in the stadium through a friend of a friend of a friend. It was the 6 degrees of ticket purchasing so to speak, but it got us through the gates and into two cold seats. Aside from that there were no hotel plans for the night or any plans to get through a cold October night afterwards.
The game started out very sloppy defensively. Both teams had miscues throughout the game and combined for five errors in the ballgame. All of this build up and this is what we were going to witness? Both teams traded runs back and forth and were tied at 4 after 6 innings of play.
Then in the top half of the seventh inning the Rangers took the lead showcased by back to back home runs by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Texas held the lead going into the bottom of the ninth just three outs from a World Series victory.
The Build Up
Historically, the Texas Rangers franchise have never been this close to a title. The Rangers, once ran by George W. Bush had very little franchise success. They were a team that had zero postseason series wins until 2010 but were now one inning away from being the best team in baseball. Figure head, icon, and CEO Nolan Ryan was on the verge of completing the building of a championship organization and stud closer Neftali Feliz was coming into the game.
On the other hand, the St. Louis Cardinals were no strangers to success having won 10 World Championships at the time. They could be considered one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball history alongside the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Amazing Drama, Lasting Images
Feliz worked the ninth inning to where there were two runners on with two outs, just one more out to get. But then in heroic fashion David Freese struck a game tying two run triple off of the right field wall. The never give up Cardinals were tied once again in front of a rowdy home crowd. What was witnessed was unexpected and simply electric.
Now tied in the 10th inning, star Josh Hamilton hit a two run home run to regain the lead for the Rangers. At last the Cardinals were done and Hamilton was going to receive Most Valuable Player honors. But not so fast, as the Cardinals again tied the game up on the verge of elimination. No way was this happening, we should have already seen in person Hamilton receive his MVP award several times already and the Rangers earning the trophy.
In the 11th inning, the Rangers had nothing cooking. However, in the bottom of the inning, that man David Freese did it again. Freese connected on a long, high home run to center field. It was a walk off for the ages to force a 7th game in an absolute wild World Series. The call on TV was just as poetic: “We will see you tomorrow night.”
The Cardinals in Game 7 went on to win their 11th title while the Rangers were left to only think about what had happened over the course of a 24 hour period.
Going into the stadium having never attended a World Series game before, we knew that playoff games could be something special, and this night was something special and then some. What we got was one of the wildest, craziest, memorable games in recent memory.
Tips and Advice
While the weather may be cold, and tickets may be pricy, being inside of a ballpark at the World Series is a chance of a lifetime to attend a game during the Fall Classic. If given the chance to sit in a cold seat for three plus hours and take in a baseball game, do it and dress warm.
Looking back, it is always best to develop some sort of itinerary and plan ahead with a budget, lodging, and more. That would be the responsible route. Or, don’t and let the magical ride of October baseball take you on a journey.
Baseball is life and the rest is just details. For those few hours, nothing else matters.