My doubleheader in the Midwest concluded on September 7th, 2015 with a visit to another highly ranked stadium on my baseball bucket list: Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. My whole life I have been in awe of the St. Louis Cardinal baseball franchise. From my earliest memory they have always been as consistent as it gets in a sport of inevitable inconsistencies.
From the front office executives down to the youngest fan in the stadium that has been wearing Cardinal gear since they were born, the Cardinals franchise has always been one I have admired.
I will admit that I was maybe, just a little tiny bit biased coming into the game since I was traveling with a Cardinals fan, but the bias was completely justified. There was no way that I thought the weekend could get any better after seeing Wrigley, but here came Busch stadium in it’s red-tinted glory proving me all kinds of wrong. From the freeway driving in you could instantly see the stadium and the marker along the right field side that displayed all the years of the Cardinal’s 11 World Series victories. 11! Coming from a club that has yet to secure a world championship, 11 championships is an anomaly. The history of this club has been developing since the 1880s and there is no mistaking the kind of loyalty that the Cardinal fan base has to their team and vise-versa. There was so much love in that stadium.
Dubbed the #CentralShowdown by the marketing team, I learned that Cubs/Cardinal series was always a hot ticket. That day was also Harry Caray bobble head day, and because of his involvement with both clubs it was an extra popular game (he was from St.Louis and a sportscaster for many teams including the Cardinals & Cubs). Busch was sold out. For this game we bought standing room only tickets (I sure didn’t know that was a thing, but there’s a first time for everything). Doing this we could walk around the entirety of the stadium and catch the game from at least 5 or 6 different viewpoints. Out of the choice of viewpoints my favorite was along third base line in section 162. From that side you had an awesome view of the city, which included a prime view of the St. Louis Arch.
The game itself was a blowout and the Cubs ended up winning 9-0 much to the enjoyment of the large amount of Cubs fans in attendance. Most Cardinal fans had left the game by the top of the 9th inning. Although I can talk about losing till I’m (#TrueToThe)Blue in the face, we are gonna move right along to the happy times… Get it, Mariners fan. Ha. Ha. Anyway, back to the game… When you’ve been down 9-0 since the 5th inning I can’t blame you for leaving. However, there was absolutely no way I was missing out on one moment of this beautiful ballpark.
After the game we stuck around and took pictures of the empty stadium, and then we headed to Ballpark Village next door to check out the Cardinal Hall of Fame & Museum. Usually I’ll try to do a little bit of research about a team and their stadium prior to visiting, but because I traveled back to back weekends (with work in-between) I didn’t do much research for this trip. Lucky for me, the Cardinal HOF is paid to that job, and does the organization extreme justice.
From Stan Musial to Ozzie Smith to Yadier Molina, they had it all. It was wonderfully put together presentation that showed all aspects of Cardinal baseball and their development into one of the league’s longest standing, respected teams. I could understand by watching the videos and being able to see the tangible objects of the past, why the team is so romanticized throughout the city. I loved everything about Busch Stadium, and I also loved getting the chance to speak with a few different fans about their favorite parts of the team and how they do baseball in the Midwest.
During the game I had purchased a hat from the Cardinals team store that has a large “STL” logo on the front, and as luck would have it, on my flight back home I was seated directly next to a Cubs fan. I was still wearing the hat as I got on the plane, so naturally his first question more or less asked if I was actually a fan of the Cardinals, or if I was just wearing the hat for fun. Sarcasm was not his strong suit. Much to my own surprise, the answer was not a definite “no”. The Mariners will always be my #1, and they are after all, the reason I am writing this entire blog. However, if I ever need an NL team to root for… Cardinals, you’re it. Thank you Red Bird Nation for showing me what your community is all about and making a fan out of me. I’ll see you in Safeco next June, boys. #GoMariners