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Emily Callis collage

This collage submitted by Emily Callis of Bloomington, showing her devotion to the St. Louis Cardinals, earned her an expense-paid trip to Major League Baseball’s Fan Cave in New York. (For The Pantagraph)

Emily Callis grew up watching St. Louis Cardinals games and/or listening to the team’s legendary broadcaster, Jack Buck, on the radio. It was what you did in the home of Bloomington’s Kevin and Lisa Callis.

Actually, it was what you did no matter where Emily Callis gathered with relatives.

“Both my mom’s side and dad’s side are Cardinal fans,” she said. “It runs deep in our family.”

In time it becomes a way of life. You begin to fancy yourself as the “Ultimate Cardinal fan.”

Callis, 23, submitted photo evidence to that effect to Major League Baseball last month in a social media contest. She was rewarded with an expense-paid trip for two to New York and the MLB Fan Cave.

As part of a season-long promotion, Callis was chosen as a Cardinals’ MLB Fan Cave Club “crasher.” She is in New York this week with Hailey Miller, a friend and Cardinal fan she met while a student at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

“This place (MLB Fan Cave) is amazing,” Callis said. “There is a giant set that is full of TV screens so you can watch all of the games. There is a home run slide so when your team hits a home run you can go down the slide.

“There are arcade games, a pool table … everything you can think of.”

Callis and Miller arrived in New York on Monday night and return home Thursday. They will attend the Cardinals’ game Wednesday night against the Mets at Citi Field.

On the mound will be promising young St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller. The “crashers” met him on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Cardinals’ pitchers Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal and second baseman Matt Carpenter are slated to be at the Fan Cave.

“We’ll stop by and meet all of them,” Callis said. “It’s exciting. They’re like the fresh faces of the Cardinals.”

Callis is a recent graduate of SIU-Edwardsville with a degree in political science and a minor in French. She is living with her parents and working at Sears in Bloomington.

The Central Catholic High School product said she “got hooked” on the MLB Fan Cave last season after seeing a Cardinal fan in the Fan Cave. When the opportunity arose to apply to be a “crasher,” she sent a photo by Instagram to MLB and came out on top.

As Buck used to say, “That’s a winner!”

Callis was to be interviewed on Cardinals radio Tuesday, part of an experience she called “a dream come true.”

“It’s so nice. They put us up in a great hotel,” Callis said. “We’re trying to see as much of the city as we can while still spending time here (at the Fan Cave). It’s been amazing.”

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