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During these uncertain times, columnist Benjamin Hochman shares what he misses about sports. Here is his latest:

Do you do this, too? Whenever I suddenly spot him in a crowd at Busch, I always say his name in a sort of surprised and high-pitched tone: “Fredbird!”

I don’t say anyone else’s name in any odd tone, but every time I see the Cardinals mascot, I subconsciously point him out in a voice that accompanies the moment: light, playful, childlike. I don’t know, maybe I’m weird. But there’s something about seeing that damn bird in its natural habitat.

I miss Fredbird. I miss seeing what Fredbird elicits from Cardinals fans, notably the kids – the smiles and hugs and just a bunch of joy. I miss his enthusiasm. Maybe I could even use some of his optimism these days – dude seems to always have a smile on his face.

He’s clever and creative. Each interaction with a fan has a personal touch to it. He dresses for theme nights at the ballpark. He dances gleefully, sort of like Rodney Dangerfield on the golf course in “Caddyshack.” He’s a symbol of St. Louis. Especially when you move away, and you see that bird pop up during a televised game, he’s a weird source of pride, sort of like upside-down custard or a certain pasta fried.

I miss Fredbird because he’s synonymous with being at the ballpark, and I dearly miss being at the ballpark.

But will Fredbird even be at the ballpark when the Cardinals return?

Fredbird, it seems, is a non-essential worker.

Team mascots will be banned from games in 2020, per the 67-page draft of Major League Baseball's proposed 2020 Operations Manual received by The Associated Press.

I suppose, a germ-collecting fuzzy full-body suit worn around others isn’t ideal for a pandemic. And it’s not like there will be fans, anyway. But even when fans return to the stands, will Fredbird be there for them to flock? Or is fan-mascot interaction a casualty in the post-coronavirus world? Too soon to tell. But, man, it’s sad to think that future kids might not ever get to meet baseball’s big bird.

Hochman's previous “What I miss today about sports” columns:

Benjamin Hochman

@hochman on Twitter

bhochman@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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