The Cardinals special season brings back photography memories for one fan

Patricia Fitzgerald with David Fries in a rare photo you didn’t take

By Sally Tibbett Raines

The next time you’re driving through Lone Elk Park, go to the visitor center and you’ll see dozens of photos of wildlife captured by photographer Patricia Fitzgerald in the park. While she loves to take pictures of animals and birds – her favorite bird for taking pictures is cardinals; As in the St. Louis Cardinals.

Patricia Fitzgerald has a bunch of photos related to the Cardinals that any baseball fan in St. Louis would love, many of them up close. She does not have a press pass. Actually she’s not in the media – she’s a fan and has been taking pictures of her favorite team for at least 40 years. Like the Red Schoendienst shown on the left.

Her collection of photos from the 1982 World Championship team are some of her favorites, and we’ll feature them in an upcoming article about the 1982 reunion at Bush.

She was always at Busch Stadium and many of her fondest memories include opening days and the days when Josie Busch rode on top of a Budweiser beer cart driving the Clydesdales himself.

“I got my first camera when I was 11 and I studied by myself,” she said. “I never got a press pass, I made an effort to get the best pictures.”

Fitzgerald knew from a young age that she loved being behind the lens.

“I started with a 110 camera and eventually got a 35mm Richo KR5 which I’ve used for 15 years, all film, all manual focus.”

Several pictures were taken of their seats.

“We had season tickets starting in 1982 or 1983 until just last year. I attended hundreds of baseball games.”

Her photo to the left of Jack Buck is one of her most memorable photos.

On August 21, Buck was 98 years old. Although he has been gone for 20 years, fans will always remember him, and the death of Dodgers anchor Finn Scully brought more memories of Jack Buck.

It was a picture of Buck from her seat at Busch Stadium, but she was going anywhere she could see the Cardinals or other sports celebrities – various charity events, meet-and-greets and the winter warm-up.

“I had my own darkroom and had so many pictures that I never got to print,” she said. “I found quite a few gems captured at Bosch Stadium 1 and 2. I found one from Jack Buck with his KMOX microphone.”

Patricia has spent many happy hours recently browsing and scanning her photo collection. She enjoys just looking at old photos, after which it takes a lot of work to scan them electronically. It has hundreds of high quality images and each image brings back a memory.

“It sure is fun to look at all the wonderful people I’ve been fortunate to photograph.”

She thought our readers would enjoy seeing them, so she shares some of her favorites.

“I’ve spent my weekend scanning some of my favorite things I’ve picked up over the past 30 years,” she said. “I found pictures of Yadier Molina before he had any tattoos.”

The photo shown on the left is from around 2004 when Molina first came to St. Louis.

Molina, the youngest of three siblings who play baseball (Benji and Jose were playing with Anaheim at the time), made his debut with the Cardinals on June 3, 2004 – aged 18 when Mike Matheny went to the 15-day handicap list.

In this special year that will be Molina’s last, photos of Fitzgerald have even more meaning.

The same is true of her portraits of Albert Pujols.

“I’ve been photographing Albert Pujols since his freshman year in 2001,” she said. “Like everyone else, I had no idea who he was going to become but thought he had a great smile.”

That smile made him attractive, and after shooting him in the field, I approached him in person at a charity event.

“I asked him for a picture,” she said. “I was still using the film, so I was very selective in the photos I took at the event.”

Not knowing what a big star Pujols was and how important he would eventually be to St. Louis, she snapped several photos of him early on.

“I got the most out of any player,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s weird. I also photographed his statue during his unveiling at Westport Plaza (when he had the Pujols 5 restaurant) and a couple of world parades. I also took pictures of him back to Busch Stadium with the Angels.”

Before the start of this year’s season, she remembered when her sister Wendy went to New York. They found out that he will participate in the David Letterman Show. While recording the show, Letterman challenged the Pujols to hit baseball outside the studios.

“Wendy and I went to New York and saw Albert hitting some baseballs with David Letterman,” she said, as his signature with the Cardinals in 2022 brought back those memories. She said at the time that she can’t wait to see what happens in the season for him

You didn’t just photograph the cardinals though.

“I also found a photo I took of George Brett meeting with Reggie Jackson, one of Johnny Bench, and Leon Spinks – the boxer best known for defeating Muhammad Ali in one of the biggest boxing disturbances of all time.”

Wendy and Patricia went to see Leon Spinks in Earth City on June 19, 1995.

“We got there early and met Leon,” she said. “He stopped for a photo. We had a great time and Leon won the fight against Ray Kipping.”

I later got the photo autographed and they also went to see Leon Spinks’ son Corey’s chest, they got autographs and more photos.

Speaking of the Spinks family, she also has a picture of Muhammed Ali with Michael Spinks. Leon Spinks passed away at the age of 67 in 2021 and posted the picture shown on her Facebook page.

From her early days of photography to today’s Cardinals, she still takes pictures. The photo, right, is a pitcher of Miles Mikulas captured at a speaking engagement he gave.

While she loves sports and has taken many photos for sporting events, she also loves music.

There is a book about Jethro Tull coming out in September by Richard Hutton called “Lend Me Your Ears, a Fan History” written from a fan’s perspective, her story and photos will be included.”

“Jethro Tull was the first concert I filmed with my 110, and I was about 14 years old.”

“I also filmed over 200 A-grade concerts in the early ’80s, but that’s for another day…”

We appreciate Patricia for sharing her photos with us.

Here are some other photos by Patricia Fitzgerald, first by Paul Goldschmidt and then by Nolan Gorman.

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