Everything you need to know about Lance Berkman in five not-so-well-known photos
The Cardinals, over the past several decades, have benefitted richly from the services of out-of-town sluggers who arrive in St. Louis during the waning days of their careers to catch fire one more time. César Cedeño. Will Clark. Larry Walker. Carlos Beltrán (sniff). But has there ever been an import who transformed the fortunes of a Cardinal ballclub more dramatically than Lance Berkman in 2011? He hit like mad, he helped loosen up a team that by all accounts had been sourpussy and cliquish, and he is the best damned Google image search ever.
Here you go: Five Berkman photos that encapsulate why we love this guy so much.
#1: The young Elvis. He knows what’s up. That little lock of hair on the forehead? It works on both the “suave” and “ironic” levels. Even as a young thing, Berkman was always in on the joke.
#2: Berkman and Tito the dog. My former career was in the world of animal sheltering, so I’m a sucker for any pro athlete who supports animal rescue, as Berkman is doing here by posing with an adoptable dog from the humane society. Extra points because it’s a plain brown dog of the sort that often gets overlooked in shelters. Extra extra points because the dog shares its name with one of my all-time favorite Cardinals.
#3: Berkman and the Obamas. It’s probably best that Lance and I never talk about religion or politics, and I’d bet my signed Tito Landrum photo that he didn’t vote for our current President, but goddess bless him for being his jovial and respectful self anyway when the 2011 Cardinals visited the White House. Congress could learn a lot from this particular Puma.
#4: Berkmanohana. Yeah, that’s Lance Berkman in a sumo suit during his 17-game tenure with the New Orleans Zephyrs. You know how everyone on Match.com says they’re “comfortable in their own skin”? Lance Berkman puts them all to shame. He’s the good-natured honey badger of the baseball world.
#5: Sexy asparagus-munching cowboy Berkman. In a bookstore few years ago, I happened upon a cookbook called Diamond Dishes that featured big-leaguers’ favorite recipes. It was full of softly-lit photos of earnest ballplayers in their HGTV-worthy kitchens—A-Rod leaning defiantly against a pile of greens, Adrian Gonzalez glancing up thoughtfully from a skillet, Albert Pujols brandishing a blowtorch (no, seriously)—but this glorious, ridiculous photo is why my mother got a copy of the book for Christmas that year. This is what would happen if the American Heart Association had a Marlboro Man. This is “Asparagus, I wish I knew how to quit you.” This is perfection.