There've been quite a few recent "this is how I became a Blues fan" posts around here recently, which I always enjoy reading. Since I'm admittedly fried from both the season being over and trying to cope with children at the end of the school year (and the fact that I don't have my catharsis of watching live hockey right now, which just makes everything that much worse), I kind of decided to incorporate the genesis story thing into today's TWH.
When I was a little kid, I was still fortunate enough to live in metro St. Louis (AKA - Granite City in the nice part and before it got kind of sketch as a whole). I know a lot of people view their childhood through rose colored glasses, and I'm no different, but it was probably the happiest I've been.
I've been a Cardinals fan since I was really little. My grandmother always got her boss' seats to the games, and she'd take me about 2 or three times a season. I enjoy baseball a great deal - it's relaxing (though some say boring), it's the perfect sport to sip a beer to, and if you fall asleep at the top of the 3rd, you can still wake up at the bottom of the 7th and not have missed much. But baseball's a spring and summer hiatus from reality. What to do about wintertime? That quandary was solved for me after playing field/gym hockey in PE.
I am not an athletic or graceful person at all, but hockey's the only sport I've ever played where I just loved it, even in 4th grade running around on a hard gym floor, whapping rubber balls at other people and creaming them in the face with a plastic stick. God, what is there NOT to love about that? So, I started watching it on TV - this was in 1991, mind you, so I was fortunate enough to really get sucked in by the awesomeness of those line-ups. Every time there was a game on KPLR I was glued to that TV in the family room, or if something else was on a grown-up wanted to watch, then I was exiled to the basement.
My grandmother decided to teach me (why, I'm not sure) the value of investing your money. In hockey cards. To me, collecting cards was always like playing the lottery, and since Gran's a scratch-off nut, I guess that might be where the idea came from. We'd spend hours going over Beckett Hockey Monthly highlighting cards that I'd gotten out of packs of Topps, O-Pee-Chee, Upper Deck, Score, whatever. Every so often I'd crack open a pack and get something pretty cool: a Patrick Roy sticker card, a Brett Hull hologram, a Gretzky. It was fun to see what you'd get, but it was also even more fun to read the back of the cards and learn about the players - stats, countries, draft order... for a kid who always liked to read and do research and learn (ahh, the good old days) this was crack. I was hooked.
Some of my coolest memories as a kid involve the Blues, especially that 4 game sweep of the Blackhawks, and the crying Belfour on the front page of the Post-Dispatch. I looove the pocket schedule I have signed by CuJo, Shanny, Janney, and Hull. The Blues were a huge part of my childhood.
And then I had to move to Atlanta. Ow. Hockey wasteland for sure - even though they used to have an NHL team, and the IHL team here - the Knights - were pretty good. All I had to get me by was my SNES and NHL94. That's fun for a while, but it's harsh when you can't see the team that you love, and the stats aren't in the newspaper, and nowhere sells hockey cards. I'd get clippings and stuff in the mail about the Blues and Cards, but the only time I could watch hockey was when it was on ESPN or Fox, and that glowpuck never graced the stick of a Bluenote.
And then FINALLY someone woke up and realized how many northerners are down here and gave Atlanta a team. Of course, it was in the Eastern Conference, so I still never got to see my Blues. It took until 2005 for me to finally get to see them live, from the upper concourse of course, and the result was a blazing 1-1 tie.
I could have given a rat's ass. I finally got to see my team out there.
The last few times I've seen them live, I've been down on the glass here (don't translate that as me buying glass seats - this is Atlanta, keep in mind), and it's been amazing to hear the "Let's Go Blues!" chants, and being given random high fives in the concourse. A few games ago, I saw a kid in an Oshie 3rd, and the Blues weren't in town. Last game of the season, I saw about 3 people in jerseys wondering around. I've seen a Backes USA jersey. I've seen a Johnson one. The lady who has season tickets next to me is a big Blues fan. We're not as widespread as Cardinals fans (who I see a TON of out and about down here), but we're out there, out of town. We're everywhere. I love it.
Anyone out there live out of town, or have any awesome "Holy shiz, I'm in _______ and there's a Blues hat!" stories?