African-American musician and composer W.C. Handy composed “St. Louis Blues” in 1914. It chronicled the tough times he had in this city in the late 1890s as he struggled to find lasting success.
It would become one of his biggest hits and remains one of the most important Blues songs ever recorded.
Fifty-three years later, an expansion hockey team named, accordingly, the St. Louis Blues, joined the NHL.
Handy’s historic song blared every game when the Blues took the ice at The Arena. It also played at the beginning of every KMOX broadcast. It is still part of the team’s lore and pregame.
He watched from above last week, and probably said with a smile to my dad, “It’s about time they did right by my song.”
Wednesday, June 12 is a day we’ll never forget.
As I sat on my couch and the final seconds passed, I literally was saying aloud, “They actually did it. The Blues won the Stanley Cup.”
I think the hockey gods sent St. Louis a blessing with the 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game Six. I fear crazed fans would have gotten a bit out of control had the Cup been won here.
So, we waited. We worried. But we knew this team – these guys were somehow different. This time it seemed like fate was finally on the Blues’ side. Three days after the ultimate disappointment, the party was on after a 4-1 win in Game 7.
I work at a health and nutrition store in Kirkwood part-time and it was one of the slowest days I’ve ever experienced. It seemed like everyone was either downtown at the Enterprise Center, Busch Stadium or their location to watch Game 7 by early afternoon.
My gut was wrenched throughout the day.
Take away the first five minutes of the game, and it was smooth sailing.
Blues go up 1-0. Cool.
Blues go up 2-0. Amazing.
Blues go up 3-0. OMG! We’re gonna win!!
Blues go up 4-0. This thing is over!!!
Blues win the Stanley Cup. Misty-eyed wonder.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the 9-year-old me that so desperately wanted the Blues to win that Game Four in 1970 against the Bruins, only to be turned back by Bobby Orr in overtime.
He made a gust appearance in my living room a little after 10 p.m. We both were gleeful.
I was in Lawrence, Kansas for the Spring game, the weekend of April 12-14. The Blues’ series against Winnipeg was underway and they took a 2-0 command with two road wins. They then lost the net two home games.
When did I start to believe the Blues could really win this year? When Jaden Schwartz scored with 15 seconds left in Game 5 against Winnipeg. The Jets had led 2-0 heading into the third period, yet the Blues won 3-2.
This told me that these were not “the same ole’ Blues.”
By the way; I have never liked “Gloria,” and I still don’t.
But getting back to my euphoria. It stayed with me for 24 hours because I boldly promised the viewing audience of Donnybrook during a pledge show that the Stanley Cup would be at our live broadcast “Donnybash” on Sept. 27 at The Sheldon.
My mouth has written a check that my read end now has to cover.
The Blues made it happen. Why can’t I?
Just as the playoffs were about to begin, a viewer pointed out that we had Kurt Warner and Ozzie Smith photos on the wall of the set at the Nine Network, but no Blues player.
Before Ballpark Village was constructed, the Blues and St. Louis Cardinals pre-game and postgame shows were shot in a studio at the Nine Network. I met former Blue and Hall of Famer Bernie Federko. People, he is one of the nicest men in sports I have ever met. A true gentleman.
I got to talk baseball with Whitey Herzog when I co-wrote a book about the 1982 Cardinals. I got to talk hockey with Federko on several occasions. They are high on my list of best times in sports – and I’ve been involved with sports writing since I was in high school.
Our director, Anne Marie Berger, asked Ferderko to make a video that would involve him putting his photo on the wall set. Not only did he do it, he did it with style.
He sneaks on to the set and stealthily hangs the photo and the gag is filmed like he’s on security cameras. I would say the next week that the Blues were going to win the Stanley Cup because Federko’s photo was now with us.
I also was a guest on several episodes of a program called “Stay Tuned” that aired on the Nine Network for a few seasons. One night, Blues owner Tom Stillman and I were on the same show.
The conversation was about downtown and some millennial know-it-all was talking nonsense about how teams and arenas do nothing for economic development and really don’t help downtown areas.
Near the end of the show, all of the guests were on the set.
Stillman and I let the young man know his thoughts were not based on fact. He had a right to his opinion, but Stillman, in a friendly manner, told him what he was saying was shaky.
So, there is my hope. Tom and Bernie, we need that Cup on Sept. 27 at Donnybash!!
Oh, as I said in a recent column, let’s make sure the Cup travels to every corner of the city.
St. Louis, you’ve waited for 52 years to get that Cup. It’s here. It was a long, hard road this year and the 51 previously.
There’s nothing more to say than, “THANK YOU!!”
Well, one more thing; LET’s GO BLUES!!