From the Hall of Famers in their red blazers and a record setting crowd to the Budweiser Clydesdales making their lap around the warning track and Lewis the American Bald Eagle soaring over the field–all the expected joys and celebrations of Opening Day in St. Louis were present in Busch Stadium on Monday.
But so too was the emotion of a lost teammate as the St. Louis Cardinals remembered Oscar Taveras with a video tribute to the late outfielder.
“Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you…”
As the poignant lyrics of “One” by U2 were covered, the video board displayed images of Taveras–ranging from the dramatic home run in his debut, smiling with teammates, to his curtain call after going yard in the playoffs. A picture of Oscar and his childhood friend and teammate Carlos Martinez was particularly emotional–especially as the 23-year old pitcher was lined up with his teammates watching along.
“It’s one love
We get to share it
It leaves you baby
If you don’t care for it…”
“It’s tough when you lose a teammate and a friend like that,” said Lance Lynn, who lent an arm of support to Martinez. “That’s our first time with the fans–our fans and everyone seeing the tribute it’s definitely tough. But when it’s all said and done, he would want us to go out there and work as hard as we can and play. That’s what you have to do.”
“I was as choked up as I’ve ever been on a baseball field,” shared Adam Wainwright, who was charged with warming up and preparing to pitch after watching the video. “That’s our job, right?,” stated the right-hander. “We’re professionals, we’re paid to go out and play and perform. That’s what we have to do.”
“The guys do a real good job of compartmentalizing life and then baseball,” furthered Mike Matheny. “There’s no question just seeing some of the memories and some of the footage put it in a different spot for us–but we were expecting that and anticipating something would be done right and done well. Everybody kind of handles things in their own way, but I thought guys have done a nice job since spring of really dealing with what they need to deal with in life and then when baseball comes around, getting your job done.”
Off-season phone calls, a team meeting in Spring Training, and guest speakers have helped in the process but the pain is still there as the team moves forward.
“You say ‘yeah’, but there’s no good way to deal with it, to go through it,” said Lynn. “But we’ve got 25 guys in here and it’s a brotherhood and we stick together. So, that’s what we’re going to try and keep doing.”
But we’re not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other…
— stlCupofJoe (@stlCupofJoe) April 13, 2015
top photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports