Foul Ball

Baseball coach Jim Brady has been fighting his bosses in the UMSL athletic department for seven years. And he thought colon cancer was a pain in the ass.

But something must have been amiss for her to have attempted to fire Brady in 1999. "That was four years ago," Dolan responds. "I mean, people change."


With Jim Brady, the conversation always comes back to baseball. And the stories go back a long way. One of the oldest and most telling involves a couple of games that were played more than 40 years ago by Brady's fourth-grade St. Gabriel the Archangel baseball team.

Jennifer Silverberg
Brady poses with UMSL athletic director Pat Dolan earlier this season, after Dolan presented him with a plaque commemorating his 500th career victory.
Brady poses with UMSL athletic director Pat Dolan earlier this season, after Dolan presented him with a plaque commemorating his 500th career victory.

That year, the pint-size squad played in the semifinal game in the Catholic Youth Council's city-championship tournament at the old Busch Stadium (as Sportsman's Park was known after Anheuser-Busch purchased the facility in 1953) on St. Louis' North Side. All the boys were primed to play ball on the hallowed turf once trod by the cleats of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams and Dizzy Dean. And of course the Cardinals team at the time boasted its own mythic figure.

"It was so cool to play there," Brady recalls. "It was, like, Stan Musial sits here; so-and-so sits here; this is where so-and-so takes a crap."

St. Gabriel won the semifinal in a laugher, 25-0. In the final, contested at Forest Park, the team pulled out to a 5-0 lead. At that point, Brady says, the game was stopped so the combatants could pose for photos for the St. Louis Review, the archdiocese's Catholic newspaper.

"All of a sudden we come back and the rally's not the same," says Brady, who played catcher. "Before you know it, they tie it up. In the top of the seventh, we go up by one to make it 7-6. We had two outs. They get a couple of fluke hits. They hit a ground ball to Tommy Herman -- all he had to do was step on third. He throws to first. It's a bad throw. Rich Etling blocks it. The kid's going to third base; he throws the ball to third -- whoosh, right up in the stands."

Brady was standing at home plate when the winning run scored.

"I remember that kid coming in, jumping up and down," he says. "I can still see him jumping. I wanted to tackle him. I didn't want him to touch home plate. He touched home plate. I had my catcher's glove, and I dropped it. Man, I was bawling. The whole team was crying. It was the most upset after a loss I had ever been in my whole life."

The way Brady tells the story, it's as if the game just happened yesterday. He was ten years old at the time.

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