Fall classic brings 3 families together

Lehmans, Walshes, and Macks
Fall classic brings 3 families together




By Rich Holm
Contributing Writer


  The World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals will begin today (Wednesday) at Fenway Park in Boston. For three local fans and their families, the opener is more than a game — it has become a way of life!

  Leo Lehman of Elgin just may be the No. 1 Red Sox fan in Iowa. When he was a Marine,  a young pilot named Ted Williams spoke to his group.

  In Clermont, Karen Mack wears red whenever she can. Grandpa Ernie Burrack in Arlington always had his radio tuned to Cardinal games, and his granddaughter would listen as Stan Musial belted out another hit.

  Up the road in Gunder at The Irish Shanti, a Red Sox hat is required attire for Kevin Walsh and his son, Hans. Kevin was born in Boston in 1949 and saw the Bosox play many times as a child riding the YMCA or church bus to Fenway.

  In August Hans, who is the Irish Shanti cook, hung up his apron for a few days because his dad was taking him to Fenway for the first time.

  On Monday all four die-hard fans met at The Shanti to reminisce family baseball memories and make the predictions. The Walshes were the boldest, saying the Red Sox would sweep the Cardinals.

  Leo and Karen both said the series would go six games with their respective teams winning.

  The term “brainwashing” has been used in all three families, because all the children, their spouses and all the grandchildren have become die-hard fans of the Cardinals and Red Sox, too.

  Karen was destined to marry another big Cardinal fan, her late husband, Galen Mack. Together they would drive to see the Cardinals play several times each year, first at old Sportsman Park and then at Busch Stadium.

  Their six kids soon learned the Cardinal lineups of their era. Randy, Mick, Kevin, Jake, Candis Frieden, and Holli Dinan all know where their mom will be tonight — the same place they themselves will be, glued in front of the TV, and they will all be wearing Cardinal shirts.

  Leo and his wife, Karolin, will be at home to see the first ball thrown out. He subscribes to Red Sox NESN (New England Sports Network) and hasn’t missed a game all year.

  Leo keeps his phone nearby because his four daughters, Kara Krohn, Linda Cline, LeAnn Larson, and Kris Whitcher will be phoning to wish him luck.

  Kevin and Hans will be working tonight, but the Shanti TVs will have the game on. Kevin’s three daughters, Julia, Ellen, and Colleen, will also be tuned in.

  Kevin’s wife is the former Elsie Hanson of Elgin. They met in Alaska, where both were nurses. They moved back to the area 27 years ago before buying the Shanti on May 16, 2005. Red Sox pictures and posters immediately went up on the walls.

  There are many other Red Sox and Cardinal fans in the area, but few can lay claim to so many offspring becoming St. Louis and Boston fans, too.

  Together the Lehman, Walsh, and Mack families have no fewer than 60 children, grandchildren, and spouses wearing the same shirts as Leo and Karen.

  Some offspring are even named after Red Sox and Cardinal players, present and past.

  Some fans are calling the Red Sox the “Boston Amish” this year because all the players have grown big beards. Leo’s grandson, Nick Larson, started a beard, too.

  His grandpa said, “I’m proud of him for doing so. I can’t, so he’s growing one for me.”

  The Macks know the Red Sox swept their Cardinals back in the 2004 World Series and hope to reverse those results this year.

  Any Mack who has seen the Cardinals play has had his or her photo taken by the big statue of Stan Musial outside Busch Stadium. Stan died this season, so all the Macks are hoping the team wins one for “Stan the Man” this fall.

  And at The Irish Shanti, watch for Kevin and Hans to cook up some possible specials such as the “Green Monster Burger” during the fall classic.

  When the series is over, Leo and Karen will return to The Shanti to share more baseball stories, and, as true baseball fans always do, they will be wearing their Cardinal red and Boston blue, win or lose.

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