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Jon Hamm loves baseball as much as you love Jon Hamm

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Don Draper may be moved by liquor, cigarettes, and loose women, but Jon Hamm lives for the Cardinals.


Whatever the outcome for your favorite team, the 2014 season has brought a lot that we'll remember with pleasure going forward. This has been the year we got to see Billy Hamilton run for a full season, Jose Abreu hit, and Juan Lagares field. It's been the year of Giancarlo Stanton, and Clayton Kershaw, and Mo'Ne Davis. And it has been the year Jon Hamm became baseball's number one fan.

In conjunction with his movie, "Million Dollar Arm," Hamm made his way to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, over to Wrigley Field, to a media roundtable in New York. He's played in the All-Star Game celebrity softball game, and showed up in Boston to root for his St. Louis Cardinals last October, so he's no baseball neophyte, embracing the game for box-office reasons. But it appears Hamm reached another level on Monday night, when the Cardinals gave out a bobblehead with Hamm's likeness.

And I'm here to tell you: we should all embrace the way Jon Hamm is embracing baseball, and baseball is returning the love towards Jon Hamm. At different moments in baseball history, someone famous represents baseball fans in the public eye. It's Hamm now, but for much of the last decade, it was Rudy Giuliani of the New York Yankees. So, you know, that's a major upgrade right there.

But don't just accept Hamm as your celebrity proxy because he's better than Rudy or, say, Morganna the Kissing Bandit. Or because "Mad Men" is an extraordinary show. Or because Hamm does comedy as well as he does drama. Or because his longtime partner, Jennifer Westfeldt, made "Kissing Jessica Stein," the underrated romantic comedy of the century. Do it because Hamm speaks the language of the knowledgeable fan, his level of engagement plainly apparent in time with reporters Monday afternoon.

"I'm old, so I had the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s," Hamm said, when asked who his favorite player. "But growing up in the 70s, [it] was probably Lou Brock. Rapidly replaced by the World Series teams in the 80s-Ozzie Smith, and Willie McGee, and Tommy Herr, Jack Clark, and the list goes on and on."

I'm gonna stop Hamm right there. It takes a different caliber of baseball fan -- one deserving of bobbleheadedness -- to appreciate the subtle game of second baseman Tommy Herr. Because Baseball-Reference is like an art museum for me, I often find myself staring at Tommy Herr's 1985 season with its .302/.379/.416 slash line. He had only eight home runs, but 110 RBI. He hit 13 sacrifice flies, drew 80 walks, struck out only 55 times. He also threw in 31 steals in just 34 attempts. It was the first time a hitter had driven in over 100 runs on fewer than 10 home runs since George Kell in 1950; only Paul Molitor (1996) has done it since.

Tommy Herr

Tommy Herr, Deadball era refugee, mellow in 1985. (Getty Images)

Herr's might have been the single most efficient baseball season ever, a compact study in production. It was entirely subtle. And a young Jon Hamm took notice. "I went to the first World Series game in 1982," Hamm continued. "I was 11 years old. And it was 'Well, I'll never get to see one of these again,' because I'd suffered through the Cardinals in the '70s, thought this is a one-and-done situation. And then we went back in '85, '87, again and again in the 2000s." You could see him mentally flipping calendars, remembering where he was as he experienced these teams.

He moved to New York, and found himself at Shea Stadium for Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. But he didn't root for the fashionable, favored Mets. It had been 24 years since the Cardinals won a World Series. He stuck with his Cardinals. "It's been a part of my life since-I can't remember a time it hasn't."

Over the course of his media appearance, he seemed entirely at ease with where he was. He was at Busch Stadium, and it sure looked like Jon Hamm was at home. His throwback white Cardinals cap --Cooperstown Collection, clutch -- fit well, like he'd worn it many times before. Nor was his knowledge limited to his own team-he brought up Billy Hamilton when speed came up, referenced Moneyball-correctly, no less-and did not fall into the celebrity trap of assuming fame equates with expertise.

I asked him whether the fact that he'd once been high school classmates with Dan Kantrovitz, scouting director for the Cardinals, gave him any input into how the team drafts.

"I don't play any role in how the Cardinals draft, thankfully, because they're doing a great job of it," Hamm said. "I don't think I would have anything positive to offer that conversation. I don't know if Danny was destined for a front office job. I do know that our high school puts out some pretty motivated and talented kids, and Danny was certainly one of them. He was a good kid back then, too."

We talked about the kind of challenge any actor faces. This Cardinals fan, on camera, needed to sing "Meet the Mets" as Don Draper in the just-concluded season of Mad Men. "I made sure it was ironic at best," Hamm said. "I lived through the 80s Mets teams, and [the] J.C. Corcoran-led 'The Mets are pond scum'. I thought it was a lovely, friendly rivalry then, and it remains so."

Mad Men Cast

The cast of "Mad Men" at the season 7 premiere party. (Getty Images)

But ultimately, all the celebrity appearances, the fact that it is now easy for him to get tickets -- though he dryly noted, "It was pretty easy in the ‘70s" -- hasn't altered his perspective as a fan. "I don't know if it's any different," Hamm said. "It's been amazing, not only as a fan of the Cardinals but of the game, to go see baseball -- I'll watch a Little League game. It's fun. I enjoy it. It's obviously more fun to watch it at the elite level that we watch it at in the major leagues. But it's always a good time."

A good time is exactly what Jon Hamm had Monday night. He looked like that 11-year-old kid, riding in the red car around the warning track with Fredbird. The Cardinals issued him number 23, the first to wear it since David Freese, another St. Louis hero, left town. The first pitch was a strike. He made sure to seek out Fredbird again, after hugging Ozzie Smith, for an extra fistbump, or whatever Fredbird has instead of fists.

Hamm even channeled Don Draper to defend the game of baseball on behalf of all its most loyal fans. If it wasn't the Kodak Carousel presentation, it was close. "I was just reading an article, I think it was it the New York Times Sunday, it was all about the pace of play, and the new commissioner coming in, what to do about it, they've got to grow the game with the younger fans and everything," Hamm said. "And I was like, it's still the same game that I liked when I was a little kid. I mean, the world moves a little quicker, but it's kind of nice that baseball slows everything down a little bit. At least for a couple hours a day."

The game went 10 innings. The Cardinals won. And there was Jon Hamm, still in the lobby near the Cardinals' clubhouse in Busch Stadium, taking it all in after it was all over. Wouldn't you?