Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 5/28/12
ST. LOUIS Its a little before 11 a.m. Sunday, and former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Al Hrabosky looks up from scanning a newspaper to remember sacrifice. Hes sitting in a booth high above home plate at Busch Stadium, and Cardinals pitchers take the field to stretch before their eventual 8-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Hes grateful for Memorial Day. Music plays over the stadiums loudspeakers as he talks, another days routine starting anew. Hrabosky, a former member of the reserves, is thankful to honor the servicemen and servicewomen throughout history who made his lifestyle possible. Its more than a day of remembrance, says Hrabosky, who joined the reserves at age 20 and played for the Cardinals from 1970 to 1977. We live in the greatest country in the world. These people have made their sacrifices, whether it was battling against communism now its terrorism. I wish at times more young people would understand how lucky they are to grow up in this country and live in this country and people will die to try to get here. Some people dont understand that and take it for granted. Later, Red Schoendienst, a former Cardinals manager and outfieldersecond baseman, sits in a suite at Busch Stadium and understands how fortunate he is. The crowd cheers in the bottom of the second inning as the former infantryman speaks, but he knows enjoying a game that became his life passion would never be possible without the dedication of others. You dont think about it all the time, but when the holiday comes around, things come back to you as far as what happened in-between, before, says Schoendienst, who joined the infantry at age 19 and whose No. 2 was retired in 1996. I guess it will keep going. The two men were among the many over the weekend who remembered Memorial Day at Busch Stadium. The thousands who came together throughout a four-game series against the Phillies honored former and active service members in various ways. To Hrabosky and Schoendienst, though, a Memorial Day connection is personal. Baseball shaped both men, but a history of service influenced them as young adults. Hraboskys parents met in the Navy. His older brother, Bryan, attended the United States Naval Academy and spent three tours in Vietnam. If not for baseball, Hrabosky would have tried to become a fighter pilot. Meanwhile, Schoendienst had four brothers in the service. His time in the infantry was limited because of a few training accidents. But he grew to appreciate the work required to preserve freedom. Somewhere in the back of the mind of every kid from my era is, How would you have done as a soldier? Hrabosky says. Thats why I have the utmost respect for everyone who served. To me, its quite remarkable, because Vietnam wasnt a popular war. Its a big thing that we do have Memorial Day or we wouldnt have any holidays, Schoendienst says. You take your hats off to veterans, from not only now, but from way back. Its a big day. It always was a big day to me. That was the takeaway as both men carried on with their lives Sunday. Hrabosky prepared to call another game as part of the FOX Sports Midwest broadcast team, something he has done for 16 consecutive seasons as a color commentator. Meanwhile, Schoendienst prepared to take in another contest with the eyes of a living Cardinals legend, something that gives him great joy. None of it would be possible without the sacrifice of those who came before. On days like today, you see all your servicemen being at the ballpark theyre being saluted, and theyre saluting you more or less, Schoendienst says. Its a big day, Memorial Day, not only for baseball but for the whole country no matter what business youre in.
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