Fans pay tribute to Hancock
Make-shift memorial created outside Busch Stadium
ST. LOUIS -- Normally, the scene in downtown St. Louis hours before a Cardinals-Cubs game is unmatched.
The bars are full of fans jabbing back and forth at each other, the stores are full of fans buying merchandise and the streets are filled with Cubs fans decked out in blue and Cards fans sporting their traditional Cardinal red.
Sunday, the scene was anything but normal.
After Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident early Sunday morning, the buzz around Busch Stadium wasn't there.
Instead of thousands of fans, there were hundreds. Instead of the fans yelling at each other and getting ready to watch another exciting game between two rivals, it was hard to tell which fans were rooting for what team. They were all there for one reason.
Cubs fans became Cards fans for a few hours on Sunday to pay their respects to Hancock.
Julie Fuhrman, who lives in Southern Illinois, got in her car Sunday morning with her sister and headed over to Busch Stadium to drop off some flowers for Hancock. Fuhrman, more of a baseball fan than a Cards fan specifically, wasn't the first.
"When I got here, someone had already put some flowers there for him, so I just put mine next to those," Fuhrman said. "It's just so hard to put something like this into words. You don't know what to do when something like this happens, but I just wanted to be down here."
The few Cards fans that were at the stadium were in a daze. Some stood around the stadium starring at the sky, others had tears dripping from behind their sunglasses.
Fuhrman's flowers lay outside the third-base gate, behind a statue of former Cardinals great Stan Musial. Others left flowers, and some fans left their Cardinals hats and T-shirts behind in memory of Hancock. In all, there was a small make-shift memorial for Hancock outside the gates.
One family, the Aitkens, dropped off a Cardinals hat with a small note written on the bill, saying their thoughts and prayers were with Hancock's family. Like Fuhrman, they weren't sure what to do, so they just got in the car and went to the stadium.
Sadly, it wasn't the first time Cards fans have dealt with a death in the Cardinals family. Fuhrman did the same thing five years ago for pitcher Darryl Kile.
"I remember coming down here for Darryl, and never thought in a million years I'd have to do this again," Fuhrman said. "I can't even imagine what the players and coaches are going through. It's just so tragic."
Even the fans who didn't bring anything down for Hancock paid tribute to the 29-year-old somehow. One fan sported his Cardinals hat with Hancock's autograph on top and tears flowing. Others just stood at the entrance gates to the ballpark looking at the empty stadium.
Hardly the normal scene for a ballgame.
Daniel Berk is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.