The saying “apple pie and baseball” has sometimes been summoned for use as political rhetoric to typify popular consumer culture and its effort to distract away from real societal corruption and inequities. Somewhat similar to ancient Rome’s famous metaphor “bread and circuses”—although clearly more caloric—apple pie and baseball are considered unofficial American cultural icons along with motherhood, Superman, and even Hollywood.
On this birthday for America in 2011, I decided to go get a slice and test drive what is considered by some to be the zenith of Americana: Busch Stadium III, home of the St. Louis Cardinals—populated by a “religiously committed” fan base. Donning a red Cardinals jersey and cap, I set out to see what kind of patriotism I could discover.
I asked some fans at the ballpark what they thought about Fourth of July baseball, one happy-camper offered, “Baseball, hotdogs, the Cards—I think it’s awesome!”
The St. Louis Cardinals are only second to the New York Yankees in winning World Series championships, and this Independence Day played a night game with the Cincinnati Reds—hailing to the first ever team made of professionals in baseball, the “Cincinnati Red Stockings” founded in 1866.
The day began with a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” performed by the Springfield Boys Choir, followed by the National Anthem sung by the Air Force vocal group 4 Digit. 40,551 fans witnessed the Cards victorious 1-0 with a run batted in the 8th inning by rookie pinch hitter Mark Hamilton who scooted a shot by third base. The Cards are currently in first place in the National League’s Central Division.
After the game we made our way toward the Gateway Arch for an excellent fireworks show which hundreds of thousands gathered to see. The stage directly underneath the arch boomed out a medley of patriotic tunes as state-of-art fireworks peaked and valleyed for a crowd of oohs and aahs, “rockets red glare” and all.
It was a uniquely American celebration with tenets like “Freedom” and “Liberty” dressing the occasion. While appreciating the diversity of the crowd assembled under the Arch, the thought occured to me that this nation represents one cornerstone in the arc of human government’s evolution, and that the principles espoused by our Founders and Framers are universal ideas which speak to the aspiration of billions. I didn’t get my apple pie this year, but did enjoy a cup full of raison-rum ice cream at Carmine’s Steak House with friends while we waited for the patriotic throng to disperse.
“We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution.” ~ John F. Kennedy