ST. LOUIS – With a gleam in his eye and the diamond in front of him, World War II veteran and former POW Vito Trause took in his first St. Louis Cardinals game in person on Thursday. It’s part of a ballpark road trip the 94-year-old and his daughters are taking.
"We've been traveling to see all the baseball teams and finally, I said we got to go to St. Louis," he said. "We drove here."
Thursday's day game was a long time coming for Vito, especially since he had a partial past with this team.
"I was on the state championship team for high school at the county," he said. "At that time, they had scouts come to baseball games and the guy seen me play and signed me up to go play with the team."
That team? The St. Louis Cardinals.
"He tells us and showed us the letter," said Cindy Trause, Vito's daughter. "He's held onto this letter for 70-something years. So it was important for him. But back in the day, he could make more working in a warehouse than playing baseball."
But young Vito was drafted into the service during World War II. His baseball dreams were put on hold.
The shortstop from New Jersey was captured in Italy and became a prisoner of war at a German stalag. He was liberated and went on to live a long life filled with friends, working two jobs to raise his girls.
"This is what we try to do," said Torry Trause, Vito's daughter. "He loves baseball. He just had us two, so we are like his sons. We've gone to sports since we were little kids."
Thursday's 10-0 victory over the Giants was also a big win for Vito and his daughters.
"This is the kind of thing that keeps him going," Terry said. "Nothing like a day at the ballpark."
"I still play cards on Friday from 8:30 p.m. until 1 o'clock in the morning," Vito said. "I do a lot of things. But life is good if you choose people and have friends. That's all you need."