Winter Warmup Weekend Is Here

This weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals will be hosting their annual charitable event, the Winter Warm Up.  i70 will have plenty of coverage from Chris Reed at the event, so you’ll not find yourself short of any of the first-hand experiences and stories from this weekend.  (Official Press Release: here)The Winter Warm Up began in 1997, and has raised some $17 million for Cardinals Care, since its inception.  The best year (in terms of dollars raised for the Cardinals’ charity) was in 2007, the year following their 10th World Championship.  At that time, the event was held at the Millennium hotel downtown, but has since moved to the Hyatt, just a few blocks away.  The new location can accommodate more fans, (bigger hotel, smaller rooms) which, presumably means more dollars.  Of course, this year’s fundraising effort will include dealing with the loss of one of the most successful features–Albert Pujols autograph tickets.

Fans gather for photos and autographs at the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warm Up

If you’ve never attended a Winter Warm Up, I’d suggest doing so at least once.  Until I moved to the Chicago area in 2003, I’d been to every one since ‘97–even have my pass from the 1998 event, where (nerd alert!) I was the proud purchaser of the event’s first pass.  At least, that’s what the lady at the ticket window at the old Busch Stadium told me that morning.  Over the last decade, I’ve missed more than I’ve attended, but was there as recently as last year, when I was fortunate enough to attend both the #WWUand the BBWAA dinner/roast of Tony LaRussa.It’s a terrific event, and the crown jewel of all Cardinals Care fundraisers for the year–and it’s easy to see why.  The sheer number of fans that come in, many from hundreds of miles away, are indicative of the event’s success.  Vendors have booths set up, television and radio stations broadcast from the event, and, admittedly there are enough of “those fans” to give Joe Sports Fan enough fodder to get through to the other side of the All-Star break.  The whole place is packed with people the entire time, and there’s something for everyone.

Last year, the Q & A session with Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak was so popular that after the session ended, the [over capacity] crowded room emptied out, and they held an impromptu second session just to accommodate the lone line of folks who weren’t able to squeeze into the room for the first session.  Or maybe they just wanted to get a glimpse of the scarf in person.  Brian Finch does a really great job sharing some of the great Cardinals history with a couple of presentations he usually gives, including “The story behind the stuff”.  HERE’S a guy who has a great job–and he seems to truly appreciate every moment of it.

So whether you’re attending for the first time, or haven’t missed one yet…whether you’re also attending the BBWAA dinner this weekend, or just following all the action via i70, and other fine media outlets, I hope you’ll enjoy this year’s Winter Warm Up to the fullest–it may very well be the most successful one to date!

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