Louis Bader talks to Tyler Hayes and his dad Jim, after Harrison Bader's home run on Saturday in the Cardinals' first game of the spring 

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – Louis Bader has followed his son around the country for years to watch his baseball games, but he enjoyed a moment on Saturday that might never happen again.

It also was a moment that only a father can truly appreciate.

Bader was sitting in the stands behind home plate at Roger Dean Stadium for the Cardinals’ first spring training game. He was there because his son Harrison is one of the team’s top prospects who earned his first non-roster invitation to the major-league camp.

The elder Bader watched as his son entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, playing left field, and as he came up to bat in the top of the sixth against the Marlins.

He watched his son hit a foul ball that bounced off the roof of the press box, and landed directly below – and was caught by Bader, who promptly turned and handed it to a 7-year-old boy sitting in the row behind. Bader didn’t know that boy was Tyler Hayes, the son of Fox Sports Midwest reporter Jim Hayes.

Bader was on his feet a minute later, cheering as his son homered over the left field wall.
Turning around, he told Tyler, “Stick around after the game and I will get my son to autograph the ball for you. You never know if might be worth something someday.”

“I retired last year so I go to a lot of games,” said Bader, who worked for 35 years as an attorney in Bronxville, New York. “I saw him a lot in Springfield and Memphis. It’s pretty exciting.”

Between his college years at Florida and in the minor leagues, Bader estimates his father has been in the stands for probably 15 of his home runs. But he never saw his son hit one – especially his first in a big-league uniform – after catching a foul ball.

“It’s spring training, but hopefully it means good things for this year,” Louis Bader said. “I’d like to catch one of his home runs.”

As promised the dad did get his son to autograph the baseball after the game.

“It’s cool,” Harrison Bader said. “It’s all about the kids. I was in that position a long time ago.

“Things happen for a reason. It was good karma, that’s exactly what it was.”

Bader played in five major-league games last spring training, going 1-for-7, with his only hit a single. He believes that experience helped prepare him for this spring, when he is competing for a spot as a backup outfielder.

“You feel more at home,” he said. “They make you feel at home when you pop over from minor league camp, but you kind of feel more at home when you see your name above the locker, kind of rolling in every morning. It relaxes you a little more.

“I knew the layout of the locker room, I knew where to go in the clubhouse. It definitely helped me. I’m having a blast, learning a lot.”

Bader was happy his dad was able to share the home run – and the foul ball – with him on Saturday.

“Hopefully I can put on a show for him,” he said. “He’s been at a lot of games.”
But never one like Saturday.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains