I Was There For The Miracle: Game Six

NOTE: Six weeks ago tonight (already!) was the World Series game that will live forever in our memories. Yes, of course, Game Six.

Most of us watched the game — and first agonized, then thrilled again and again — via TV. But more than 47,000 people were actually there. And here’s the story of one of those fans, Kelly Robbins.

By Kelly Robbins

Being extremely superstitious and wary of jinxes, I had hesitated even to register to buy NLCS tickets, let alone World Series tickets. But when I got the chance for the latter on Oct. 11, with the NLCS tied 1-1, I decided to go for it. Weighing the options was hard — go for the more likely Game One or Two, or chance it that the Series would even to go six or seven games? Something told me to go with Game Six and I ended up with a ticket.

The last month of the season had been so stressful that by the time the Cardinals were down 3-2 after the awful Game Five, I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the trip all the way from Maryland just to see them lose, especially after I had just made another last-minute trip to St. Louis for the NLCS. Yes, I’ll admit it — I had lost hope so many times in the previous weeks I just didn’t know if I could take it again. But I’m very glad I didn’t follow through on unloading that ticket and staying home.

On the night of Game Six I was running late due to taking too long to decide between my Torty Craig t-shirt that had already proven its luckiness in the earlier playoff games and the new and relatively unproven David Freese shirt I got the day of NLCS Game Five. (Can you guess which one I picked? I did graduate from Lafayette and Torty didn’t, so that cinched it!)

The crowds were so heavy outside the stadium that it took a long time just to get in. I made sure to buy my World Series program from the same vendor at Gate Three who sold me my NLCS program at Game Four of that series. (By the way, he’s the one who cost us that game by predicting the Cardinals would win it 9-2, so this time I reminded him “no jinxes!” and he agreed to comply.)

The atmosphere in the stadium before the game was definitely more intense than at the NLCS, and there were ominous numbers of Texans milling around, armed with large Texas flags, signs and, in one case even a golden wrestling-style championship belt (?!) By the time I headed to my seat (section 442, row 1, seat 13), thanks to being in the world’s slowest hot dog stand line, I had managed to miss the Hall of Famers and the first pitch by David Eckstein.

Even worse, I found that my seat was between two groups of Rangers fans. They had taped up a line of Rangers rally towels over the railing in front of our row, and one towel was right in front of my seat. This night was definitely not getting off to the best start, and I began to get a really bad vibe. Although I’ve been to several playoff games, this was my first home World Series game ever. Why, oh why, did I have to experience it sitting next to Rangers fans?

There was barely time to choke down my dinner and politely ask the gentlemen from Texas to remove the offending rally towel from in front of my seat (God forbid someone might think I was with them!) and then the game began.

It seemed like Jaime was really nervous, and after the Rangers scored first their fans were cheering like they owned the place. Berkman’s homer briefly quieted them, but when the Rangers regained the lead at 3-2 in the fourth, I distinctly remember one of the Texans saying to his buddy “18 more outs!”

They weren’t bad guys, just not the most knowledgeable. When Tony made one of his pitching changes, one of the younger Rangers fans couldn’t understand why our shortstop was also changed — he had absolutely no concept of the double switch! And yet despite his cluelessness this fan was deeply devoted to his team. Once when I was changing the direction of my Cardinals bracelet to try to change the team’s luck, he showed me that he had the same model Rangers bracelet. Then he pulled out his keychain, which featured a replica of the Rangers’ 2010 AL Championship ring (he made a point of telling me it was only a replica) and told me how he had carried it with him and looked at it ever day since getting it, as a reminder of how badly he wanted the Rangers to win the World Series.

Fortunately, despite the two Rangers fans on my left and three somewhat older Texans on my right, the rest of the section was pure Cardinal Nation. Despite having the opposing fans in our midst, everyone got along fine. We Cardinals fans were all cheering, but with the incredible number of fielding mishaps in the fourth and fifth innings, you could just feel the whole improbable comeback rapidly slipping away.

By the way, the reaction in my section to the errors was very interesting — in Holliday’s case people reacted rather bitterly, while when Freese dropped the ball it was much more sympathetic. People really felt bad for him and worried that he would feel he had cost the team.

You got the sense this wasn’t going to be the Cardinals’ night, and the best you could hope for was that it wouldn’t turn into one of those humiliating total meltdowns that haunt the memories of all of us long-time fans. The team kept fighting to keep it close, but when it got to 7-4 in the seventh, the Texans were really whooping it up and counting down the outs with great gusto.

About that time, one of the younger Rangers fans came back from a visit to the concession stand carrying an armful of bags of peanuts. He said the vendor had just given them to him free because he was so sure the game would soon end — and there would be no tomorrow.

But when Craig hit the homer in the eighth, it seemed like the energy in the stadium changed. The crowd was re-energized, hoping for yet another comeback, especially after the three straight two-out singles by Yadi, Descalso and Jay. But then the cosmic forces lost focus again, and the inning ended with the Cards still down 7-5.

After getting post-game bar suggestions from people in the row behind us, the two younger Rangers fans said they were heading down to the section behind their dugout to be ready for the celebration. We congratulated them on a great series and they were gone.

I was left sitting there thinking about my own life coming full circle — 24 years ago I was sitting in the Metrodome watching my precious Cardinals crumble in Game Seven of the only other World Series I’d ever attended, and now I was going to have to go through that again. That was probably the low point of the game for me. If I’d been watching at home, I admit that, as in 2004, I probably would have turned off the TV and gone to bed just to avoid having to witness the team’s last heartbreaking moments.

Being there in person, though, I was determined to see it through til the last out, no matter what. This year’s team was so special —  in 35 years of being a Cardinals fan I have never loved a team more than this one. They had tried so hard and done so much, we all owed it to them to stick with them to the end, no matter how painful or bitter, just to honor their efforts. That seemed to be the consensus of the fans around me.

After the bottom of the eighth, I felt sick about the impending loss. But somehow, as the bottom of the ninth started, I had a strange sense of calm. Lucky shirts, jinxed shoes, magic bracelets, somehow none of that mattered anymore — somehow, win or (more likely) lose, it was all going to be OK.

I was concerned that the crowd would empty out, or even worse vent their frustration by booing. Yet I was so proud of all our fans for not only sticking around, but really cheering. In my section, we were all on our feet yelling and clapping from the start of the bottom of the ninth — if we were going down, we were going down fighting, and the team was going to feel our support.

Somehow, the cosmic forces were shifting again. You could just feel things coming into alignment. When Pujols got his double, the energy level and noise volume in the stadium increased, and I decided it would probably be a good idea to hold on to the low rail in front of me just in case of a sudden swoon from all the yelling.

But even as things seemed to be turning the Cardinals’ way, there was the constant thought that it could (and probably would) all be over in an instant. The Rangers would be running out to celebrate, and I was just hoping our fans would at least give the Cardinals a proper thanks for an incredible season.

With all the excitement, I hadn’t even realized Freese was coming up until he was announced after Craig struck out. My first thought was, oh no, how cruel can fate be to stick him with this, making the last out in the Series on his home field after making that crazy error earlier? For a player who is also a lifelong fan of the team to have to live with that just seemed too much to bear.

The Rangers were already at the rail of their dugout ready to run, and their fans next to me had their cameras out and ready to capture the final out. We Cardinals fans were cheering desperately — at some point I guess I realized we were down to our last strike, but suddenly it was like a wave of energy swept the stadium.

Time stopped, and I can still picture the white flash of the ball streaking across toward right field. From my section (top tier pretty much straight up from first base), we couldn’t quite see into the corner where Cruz was, especially with everyone standing and waving towels. For a moment we didn’t know if he caught it or not.

It seemed impossible that people could make any more noise than they already were, but in all my years of going to games I’ve never heard anything like the sound of 47,000 people not just cheering but screaming their lungs out over and over again as we saw Pujols, Berkman and Freese just keep running.

I actually ended up on my knees holding onto the rail with tears in my eyes and screaming “oh my God, he did it!” over and over while everyone around went crazy (except of course the remaining three Texans, who sat shaking their heads in silence). Even though Yadi made the third out relatively quickly after that play, the crowd was still stirred up. At the end of the inning another huge roar went up as Freese stood all alone on the infield waiting for his glove to be brought out.

How quickly things would change in the top of the 10th, though. With the Hamilton homer the Rangers fans were ecstatic, yelling “Hobbs” and singing that dumb theme song. This time they were sure they had it won. It was another impossibly cruel twist of fate.

The Cards fans behind me and I agreed that after the long comeback struggle and weeks of must-win games, the team just didn’t have any more left to give. They had made us all proud, but their luck had finally run out.

As the Cardinals left the field after the Rangers were finally retired, I was watching Motte. He was obviously crushed and as he neared the dugout he looked toward Yadi and hit himself in the chest as if to show he blamed himself for blowing the game. Yadi ran over and put his arm around poor Motte to console him and you could see other teammates do the same as they walked down the steps.

As the bottom of the 10th started, we got back on our feet with a mix of grim resignation and faint hope to start cheering again. My throat hurt, my wrists ached from clapping, and may I also mention that I hadn’t left my seat during the entire 4+ hours, so there was that situation too, but sitting there quietly was just not an option.

This inning seemed to go more quickly and somehow less dramatically, than the ninth even though the Cardinals were ultimately in the same last-strike situation. By the time Berky came up, you kind of felt like he had this — anything was possible at this point.

When his hit dropped and Jay scored, I started wondering if it’s actually possible to pass out just from screaming so much. Everyone around (except the Texans, of course) was in a giddy mood. What more could happen?

People were roaring as Westbrook quickly got through the top of the 11th. You could feel by that point the momentum had totally shifted. The remaining Rangers fans in our section were alternating between stony silence and loud, obscenity-laced, arm-waving outbursts against their manager and certain team members.

Once the bottom of the 11th started, it all went surprisingly quickly. I figured Freese had done his part in the ninth and it would be someone else’s turn, but it was time for another miracle.

When he hit it, there was just no doubt. Somehow the screams this time were even louder. I personally screamed so loud and so long that I thought I was going to have a stroke, and my voice was shot for a week.

The crowd continued cheering for a long, long time as the team shredded Freese — it was like no one wanted to leave while he was still out there being dragged around like a rag doll from interview to interview. We were all still literally shaking with excitement, except the Rangers fans, who were positively catatonic.

When things quieted a bit I asked them if they were coming back from for Game Seven, and they said they didn’t know — they really hadn’t even contemplated that they wouldn’t win this one.

When I finally said goodbye to the other fans in my area and headed down the stairwell, people were still in a frenzy. Every minute or so someone would start screaming, and that would set off the mass hysteria again. In the concourses and all the way into the streets people were still hugging and high-fiving strangers, laughing and screaming in pure joy.

When I was nearly over to the train station the stadium put on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” really loud and people were singing in the streets! Then on the train home, the lady driving it would announce each stop and then chuckle while adding “and the Cardinals won!” and people would cheer. I’ve just never seen so many deliriously happy people in all my life. (I was also at Game 7 the next night, and even that was not quite the same)

I honestly feel this wasn’t just a great game — it was a miracle, or really a series of miracles, beyond the usual realm of human experience or understanding with no earthly explanation. I witnessed a miracle, and I don’t know how anyone who was there that night and felt that energy could remain unchanged by that.

My only regret is I forgot to have anyone take my picture there, but at least I have my holy relics: a souvenir cup (acquired after it was abandoned by the Rangers fan who went down to the dugout to celebrate), an extremely lucky rally towel, and a program with a scorecard so messy that it looks like it was kept by the Rally Squirrel himself.

And at the first game I attend at Busch next year, I plan to get there early, go up to section 442, row 1, seat 13, and kneel there for a moment just to savor the memories and give thanks that I was there!

Just a reminder: you can win the entire eight-DVD World Series Collectors Edition — so you can watch Game Six all over again yourself if you win. We’re giving away five DVD sets. Click here to enter.

2 thoughts on “I Was There For The Miracle: Game Six

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. it made me laugh, cry, and remember the joy & angst of game 6.

    My husband & I went to watch the Cards in Pittsburgh & Philadelphia at the end of the regular season. Seeing them play for that playoff spot was amazing. They played so hard & showed no fear in that packed Phillies stadium. I knew during the playoffs that the Phillies didn’t stand a chance against us & they knew it.

    What a magical season. My only two trip to Spring Training were in 06 and this 11 season. I am 2 for 2. Think the Cards could pay my way next season?

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. it made me laugh, cry, and remember the joy & angst of game 6.

    My husband & I went to watch the Cards in Pittsburgh & Philadelphia at the end of the regular season. Seeing them play for that playoff spot was amazing. They played so hard & showed no fear in that packed Phillies stadium. I knew during the playoffs that the Phillies didn’t stand a chance against us & they knew it.

    What a magical season. My only two trip to Spring Training were in 06 and this 11 season. I am 2 for 2. Think the Cards could pay my way next season?

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