I turned 36 years old today. I made sure to text my friend Andy Kuhns, who was six months older than me but in my grade (and therefore had to drive me to school for six months back in 1991) that it had been 20 years, today, that my birthday made his life easier. I’ve been a licensed driver for 20 years, today.
One thing about having your birthday in October is that it coincides with lots of baseball playoff games. In my lifetime, I’ve now had a 5-4 record from my beloved Redbirds on my birthday. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have exactly 25 percent of my birthdays coincide with Cardinals playoff games. Here they are:
October 10, 1982.
Cardinals beat the Braves 6-2 to win the 1982 National League Championship Series 3-0. I turned seven years old. Bruce Sutter threw a 2 1/3-inning save. Dale Murphy batted sixth. The Braves’ manager was Joe Torre. This would be his last postseason game for 14 years. This was a pretty awesome way to turn seven.
October 10, 1985.
Dodgers beat the Cards 8-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. I turned 10 years old. Cardinals would win the next four games. Orel Hershiser, who married a woman from Mattoon, Ill., threw a complete game. Ozzie Smith would hit the “Go Crazy, Folks” homer four days later.
October 10, 1987.
Giants beat the Cards 4-2 to tie the NLCS 2-2. I turned 12 years old. Robby Thompson, Bob Brenly and Jeffrey (One Flap Down) Leonard hit homers for the Giants. Both pitchers, Mike Krukow and Danny Cox, threw complete games. Cardinals would clinch four days later, thanks to a shutout by Cox.
October 10, 1996.
Cardinals beat the Braves 8-3 to tie the NLCS 1-1. I turned 21 years old. Gary Gaetti — who went to community college at Lake Land, in Mattoon, Ill. — hit a grand slam off Greg Maddux in the seventh inning. I remember nothing after that moment. I had 21 1/2 shots in 90 minutes that night. (The last one I sucked off the table, so it only counts as half. College.)
(Cardinals swept too fast in 2000 to play on my birthday.)
October 10, 2001.
Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks 4-1 to tie the NLDS 1-1. I turned 26 years old. This was the one year Albert Pujols and Mark McGwire played together. McGwire missed this game, but Albert homered off Randy Johnson in the first inning. I spent most of September and October of my second year in New York City drunk and wailing, but I pulled my shit together for this series.
October 10, 2002.
Giants beat the Cardinals 4-1 to take 2-0 in the NLCS. I turned 27 years old. Barry Bonds went 0-for-3, somehow. Still angry the Cardinals didn’t win the World Series this year. This was the Darryl Kile and Jack Buck year, and they were supposed to win the World Series this year.
October 10, 2004.
Cardinals beat the Dodgers 6-2 to win the NLDS 3-1. I turned 29 years old. Heavens did I ever get drunk after this game. This was back when I could drink on Sunday nights.
(Cardinals swept too fast in 2005 to play on my birthday.)
(Cardinals won three of four too fast in 2006 to play on my birthday.)
October 10, 2009.
Dodgers beat the Cardinals 4-1 to sweep the NLDS 3-0. I turned 34 years old. There’s truly nothing better than watching your team’s season end on your birthday. This was the first Cardinals playoff game my wife ever watched me watch. It’s pretty stunning she stayed with me; I was not pleasant. This was John Smoltz’s last game as a major league pitcher.
October 10, 2011.
Cardinals beat the Brewers 12-3 to tie the NLCS 1-1. I turned 36 years old. Albert Pujols had a nice night. So did I.
I like having a birthday in October.