For the past four years, Eloise Card and her daughter Donna Glendenning have watched every Miami Marlins game together, from first pitch to last out — more than 600 and counting. From 34 miles apart.
Card, 91, isn’t as mobile as she used to be, and Glendenning, 66, is tethered to an oxygen tank by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So they tune into the television broadcasts from the comfort of their own homes and connect by telephone in a ritual they say has brought them closer together.
“If I don’t call her by the first pitch, she’s calling me,” Glendenning says. “She’ll start out the conversation always with, ‘Well, what do you think we’re going to do tonight?’ ”
Card lives in the Westwood Lakes neighborhood of Southwest Miami-Dade, and her daughter is in Fort Lauderdale. They says the routine began organically in 2009.
“We would just call each other back and forth about the game, and then all of a sudden we started just talking to each other through the whole game,” Card says.
Even when Card travels to her second home in the Florida Keys, they connect at game time.
They are fiercely loyal to the Marlins, win or lose, and have been since the team’s founding 20 years ago. Miami’s fickle fans should be patient with the team’s current roster, Glendenning says.
“Miami’s always had fair-weather fans. Miami’s loving the Heat because they’re kings. But they never seem to cheer on the underdog,” she says. “[The Marlins are] a young team that has a lot of raw talent that needs to be cultivated. And when they’re more mature, they will be an awesome team.”
Their favorite players include 21-year-old Jose Fernandez, 23-year-old Giancarlo Stanton and 24-year-old Adeiny Hechavarria.
Glendenning got into baseball when her son started playing as a 6-year-old. She served as the scorekeeper during his four years on his high school’s varsity team, and knows the ins and outs of the game.
Card, a football lover all her life, got into baseball more recently, and quickly became a nut for the game’s arcane statistics, her daughter says. Card keeps her computer next to her television, and looks up stats during the games.
When a game gets tense, they yell and scream as if they’re at the ballpark. Card, in particular, can get rowdy, occasionally swearing at players.
“She’s a pistol,” Glendenning says. “Before the pitch happens, she’ll say, ‘Come on now, you gotta strike him out, strike him out!’ And he’ll strike him out. She’ll say, ‘See, he heard me!’ ”
Card had plenty to say when the Marlins took on the Kansas City Royals on a recent road trip, with star rookie pitcher Fernandez facing the Royals’ Bruce Chen. As much as she loves her team, she evaluates the competition fairly.
“Well, I understand this pitcher’s pretty damn good,” Card says, to which her daughter interjects that Fernandez is, too. “Well, unfortunately, their hitters are better than ours,” her mom replies.
Neither team scores a run through the first few innings, frustrating the two fans, but also allowing them to discuss other things. They talk about Card’s neighbors and her Shetland sheepdogs, King and Princess the Third.