Clydesdales make a special delivery in Shiloh

News-DemocratSeptember 29, 2013 

It's not every day the Budweiser Clydesdales trot down your street, but that's just what happened at noon Sept. 21 on Haverford Drive in Shiloh.

"Here they come, oh my," said a woman in the crowd that lined the street off Hartman Lane.

"Look how big they are," said another.

The iconic red wagon pulled by eight majestic horses -- their manes trimmed in red and white, stopped in front of Ron and Debra Lassman's two-story brick home.

The Clydesdales' visit was part of Ron's prize from Anheuser-Busch for winning two spots -- each worth about $5,000 -- at the Cardinals Legends Camp in Jupiter, Fla., next January. He'll spend a week playing ball alongside former stars such as pitcher Danny Cox.

The 1980s ace, wearing a No. 34 jersey and a straw hat, was aboard the wagon that day to deliver the prize.

How about helping me get down?" he said, from his high-up seat, then, "Congratulations," as he walked up to Ron, who was surrounded by friends and family.

"I entered online and was so surprised to get the call," said Ron, 51, a UPS sales rep and father of four

"Ready to go down and play some ball?" said Danny, "It's gonna hurt. It always hurts me. Budweiser will take care of it -- that and some Ibuprofen."

Along with the Legends camp -- Ron is taking his younger brother, Doug -- he received a pullover jacket, a T-shirt, a hat with a Clydesdales logo, a horseshoe, a wooden Budweiser crate and four cases of beer.

"You know he's going to be gone for a week," Danny told Debra, Ron's wife.

In some ways, she deserves credit for making a Cardinals fan out of Ron.

"He's liked baseball his whole life," said Debra. "He grew up in Kansas City, rooting for the Royals. I went to Rockhurst. He went to KU. When we first met in '85, the Cards and Royals were going at it, playing each other in the World Series."

(And who was one of the Cardinals pitchers? Danny Cox)

"I moved him back here (in 1994) and turned him into a Cardinals fan," said Debra, who teaches computer classes at Southwester Illinois College. "If you live in St. Louis, you can't help but be a Cardinals fan.

"We've been here almost 20 years. We were in Chicago four years."

"Then, he was a Cubs fan," said daughter Emily, 15.

Not any more.

"I'm a huge Cardinals fan," said Ron. "I was at the World Series' last game in 2006. I was at the home opener for the new stadium. I'm a big fan."

Even though he doesn't make it to many games.

"With the kids all playing now and their activities," said Debra, "we're lucky if we can get the whole family to go one or two times. He'll be at kids games, listening with headphones, too.

"He will get to go to Jupiter and play ball with the old-timers. With four kids -- two in college -- it wasn't in the budget."

Sons Eric, 21, and Scott, 18, attend Southwestern Illinois College. Emily is an Althoff sophomore and Michael, 14, is a freshman at Belleville East. All are athletes.

"He taught me everything about sports," said Emily of her dad.

"She plays soccer at Althoff and volleyball," Ron said. "She's my star athlete."

Debra is just happy her husband gets the fun adventure.

"This will be an experience he never forgets."

It was memorable, too, for the hundred or so friends and neighbors. They cheered the arrival and hummed the "Here comes the King" song. They aimed their camera phones at Cox and the Clydesdales. One guy broke out a box of baseballs for autographs. Some teased the winner.

"Ronnie, do you have to pay for all this extra traffic control?" said a friend, eyeing police cars on the street.

"Ron, we do this stuff in Chicago, but we use goats," said a Cubs fan.

Ahead of time, the Lassmans put the Clydesdale visit on Facebook. They invited friends over for hot dogs and soda on the back deck afterward. Walgreen's promoted the event, too. That's where three trucks unloaded the Clydesdales, their wagon, and the little cart that travels behind.

Monica Atkins, who lives "down the street" in Country Crossing, and her family had raced from their son Patrick's 10 o'clock baseball game in Collinsville to see the Clydesdale event.

"You don't want to know how fast we drove to get here," she said. "A nicer guy couldn't have won this. Ron and Deb are awesome people. So are their kids."

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