Entering the home of retired math teacher Eva Passmore, a definite motif can be detected. Red,, white and blue are the primary colors and baseball is the theme. She welcomes visitors to her shrine for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Passmore, a 72-year-old Claremore resident, has followed the major league team for more than 60 years and displays virtually every kind of memorabilia imaginable. There are books, posters, pennants, pins, bobble head dolls, autographed baseballs, photos, scrapbooks and jerseys. Her ”Cardinals Room’’ features a bed spread adorned with the team logo.
Needless to say, Cardinals baseball is a focal point of Passmore’s life. If there is any doubt, just ask her.
“God is No. 1, my family is No. 2 and No. 3 the Cardinals. I also like to read,’’ said Passmore, who tells time with several Cardinals clocks ticking on the walls. “I love baseball and I love the Cardinals. Growing up on a farm in northeast Missouri, my family listened to the games on the radio and I started a scrapbook and buying baseball cards when I was 10 or 11 years old.
“There were 10 kids total in our family and baseball was our favorite sport to play. We would play out in our yard and I would usually do the catching. The guys didn’t think a girl could play, especially catcher, but I did, I played.’’
Passmore graduated from Trumann State in Kirksville, Mo., and later earned her master’s degree before arriving in Tulsa in 1974. She spent 40 years teaching math and finished the last 20 at Metro Christian and Rejoice Christian schools. Passmore met her husband, Steve, in Tulsa and they married on Nov. 1, 1975.
While the Cardinals remained Passmore’s passion, Steve did not share his new wife’s fanaticism.
“I could care less about any sports,’’ he said. “It’s dumb. People put too much emphasis on it.’’
However, Steve Passmore is tolerant of his wife’s love of the Cardinals and has attended games with her. He won’t make her choose between the two, especially if St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright entered the picture. The 6-foot-7 fireballer remains Passmore’s favorite player.
“The ultimate for me would be to meet him. I don’t even have his autograph,’’ Passmore said. “He’s my favorite because of his strong Christian faith and he’s not ashamed of it. He’s very vocal about it.
“I went to a game last year and he pitched. I told everybody that he would pitch a good game and hit a home run to me. He pitched five, six, seven innings of shutout ball and hit a two-run homer his first time at bat. The Cardinals beat Arizona 2-0.’’
While Passmore has yet to meet Wainwright face-to-face, she has interacted with other team notables, including Mike Shannon, Ozzie Smith and Whitey Herzog. She’s had a photo snapped with Shannon, Smith autographed his book for her and Herzog helped land Tommy Lasorda’s autograph.
Some of Passmore’s favorite Cardinals moments include seeing her first playoff game in 1996, going to the pep rally, meeting Fred Bird, the team mascot, and getting autographs after the game. Her most cherished memory is attending a Cardinals game in Washington D.C. in 2012.
“I flew to my sister’s house in Jacksonville, N.C., and then we drove to Washington. I had met Bob Carpenter (former Tulsan and the TV voice of the Nationals) in 2004 and he asked us if we wanted to go to the press box. He introduced us to Rick Horton, the Cardinals TV guy, and he gave us each a microphone and let us pretend we were doing the game.’’
Among Passmore’s most prized memorabilia is a replica ring from the Cardinals 2004 World Series team and a 33 rpm record following the 1964 championship season featuring play-by-play from Harry Caray and Jack Buck. Accumulating such treasures has been helped by her friends and students.
“My best friend lives in St. Louis and gives me Cardinals stuff,’’ said Passmore. “I had a student passing through St. Louis who brought me a ball. I’ve had so much that I’ve given some of it away. I had kids coming by selling something and they were Cardinals fans and I showed them my room. I gave the two boys large plastic helmets and the little girl a smaller one. She came back and wanted a big one, too.’’
Passmore tries to attend at least one game a season and listens to all the games on her computer. She remains confident that current edition of the St. Louis Cardinals will enjoy another banner season.
“I think they are a pretty good team this year. They made some good changes,’’ she said. “They had trouble finding a closer last year, but now they’ve got Greg Holland they signed as a free agent. If everybody does what they’re supposed to do, they will do all right.’’
And Passmore should know. She’s the team’s No. 1 fan and has the souvenirs to prove it. She’s red, white and blue all the way through.
“The Cardinals haven’t always been winners,’’ she said. “But my dad, my mom and my older brothers always listened to the games. Baseball is in my family’s blood.’’