Happy camper: An 87-year-old Cardinals fan helped remind Hall of Famers ‘why we love this game’

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The sign above the portal to the stadium says “Doubleday Field,” but on this gray, pre-church bell Sunday morning in Cooperstown, New York, in late June, it might as well say, “Once upon a time …”

For one thing, the old ballpark looks pretty much the same as it did when the field was first used following the induction of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in June 1939. For another, the two teams playing for the championship of the 2018 St. Louis Cardinals Cooperstown Fantasy Camp are being managed by Dave LaPoint and John Stuper, who were rookie pitchers and roommates on the 1982 world champion Cardinals. As for the gnomish man sitting in the home dugout? That’s Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who literally saved that series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

In fact, that game is the reason why Anagnost, now 87, has been wearing the birds on the bat for the past three days. As he tells it, “My dad owned a candy store in Sherburne, The Sweet Shoppe. He was from the old country, but he knew enough to expose his kids to American sports. nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap Early in the game — first inning, as I recall — one of the Cardinal players hit the ball to the wall and started running around the bases trying for an inside-the-park home run. Well, he skidded coming around third base, then dove back into third. This was an exhibition game, mind you. Some guy in the stands asked, ‘Who was that guy?’ and somebody else answered, ‘That was Enos Slaughter.’ Well, that was enough for me. From then on, I was a Cardinals fan.

“That was the Alpha. I guess you could say this is the Omega. Except I’m not quite done yet,” he says.8

Down the block from Doubleday Field, in one of the folders in the Hall of Fame Library, there’s an old account in The Sporting News that confirms Anagnost’s recollection: “In the first inning, Country Slaughter pummeled a fastball to the center field fence for a triple. Slaughter would have tallied ahead of the relay, but fell rounding third. [Dick] Fowler then made Musial bound out, Pete Suder to Dick Siebert.” That’s right, Stan Musial, then barely a man at 21 and not yet The Man, ended the inning. Later in the game, Musial hit an inside-the-park homer to help the Cardinals win 5-2.

Other details further dated Anagnost’s first game: 79-year-old A’s manager Connie Mack gave a speech beforehand; ticket prices ranged from 50 cents (bleachers) to $1.50 (along the baselines); and the crowd of 6,720 might have been even larger had the wartime gas and tire rationing not been in effect.

“Sherburne was only about an hour away from Cooperstown,” Anagnost says. “But that day opened up a whole new world to me. I was hooked for life.”

And a remarkable life it has been. Anagnost returned to Doubleday Field four years later, for the state high school championships.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“I was a sophomore, played right field and catcher,” he says. “Sherburne lost the championship game to Binghamton Central 5-4 in the ninth inning. I remember that one of our guys, Bill Quinn, looked at the second-place certificate they gave us, then ripped it up right there.”

After high school, Anagnost went to Cornell, graduating in 1952 with a degree in economics. During the Korean War, he became a first lieutenant in the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, specializing in automatic weapons.