Tag Archive | "Table Discussions"

UCB: Top Five Iconic Moments

The United Cardinal Bloggers puts together monthly projects and post ideas for the group of us to chime in on.  Next month will start another run of round-table discussions, a personal favorite.  This month they have asked us each to summarize our top five iconic moments in St. Louis Cardinal history.

That’s a lot of history to pour through, even for a historian like myself.  My top five will be moments that I personally remember, whether on television or in attendance, that are ingrained in my mind and truly define my love for that franchise.

Number Five: Where 1998 Started
A lot of writers will plug in the great home run chase into their top fives, but I’m not sure many would utilize Opening Day of the 1998 season.

As a fan, it is one of my favorite games to attend.  The fanfare and celebrations around the city are a holiday like no other.  From the parade of champions to the player introductions, it is a ballgame that rivals any other.  In 1998, long before anyone realized the special season we were about to witness, the player we would all cheer for to chase the unreachable record would start things off in grand style.

During a scoreless game entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Dodger starter Ramon Martinez would find himself in some trouble.  A lead off double to Gary Gaetti followed by a base hit by Tom Lampkin would have runners at the corners with no one out.  Back-to-back strikeouts of Cardinal hurler Todd Stottlemeyer and lead off man Royce Clayton had Martinez back on top.  When the Dodger pitcher failed to retire Delino DeShields, Mark McGwire stepped to the plate with the bases full.  The one ball, no strike pitch to McGwire landed deep in the left field seats, an opening day home run in front of a crowd of just under 48,000.  The city of St. Louis would erupt in the middle of the game and while home runs 61, 62 and 70 would not only be etched in the record books, it was the opening day grand slam that I was in attendance for that started it all.

Number Four: The Passing Of The Guard
A tumultuous few years seen a Cardinals franchise changed forever.  Fan favorite manager Whitey Herzog would leave, former popular player Joe Torre would arrive and take the reigns of a team that had very little support from upper management, and a new era would be ushered in with the arrival of Tony LaRussa.

Tony would stick around for a long time, making decisions that would make the most die hard fan question his methods, only to find that his methods lead to victories, and championships, along the way.  The biggest change, and the one that most fans could not bring themselves to move past, happened after the arrival of LaRussa, however.

Prior to that arrival, in 1992, franchise legend Ozzie Smith had filed for free agency.  By December, the team had reached an agreement on what was being called a “Lifetime Contract”.  That contract guaranteed the short stop three million dollars a year and automatically renewed the following season if he reached a modest amount of plate appearances.  The contract also included a $500,000 signing bonus, payable upon retirement, and a 10-year personal services contract.

in 1996, with the arrival of Tony LaRussa, Walt Jocketty, and a new ownership, the team reached an agreement with former Giants short stop Royce Clayton.  It was the beginning of the end for the man known as “The Wizard”, Ozzie’s playing time was cut drastically and his contract would not roll over.  While Ozzie had reached the age of 41, many fans believed him still capable of handling the position and was forced out of the league by the new regime.  Ozzie would retire after the season and enter the Hall Of Fame later as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, but the decision to remove him from the short stop position in St. Louis was the single most iconic personnel change in my life at the time.

Number Three: Go Crazy Folks
On a personal note, my family moved to Missouri in 1985.  I was a young, eight year old boy that was just truly discovering the beauty of the game.  That summer, I attended a Cardinals game against the Chicago Cubs and had fallen in love with the beauty of listening to the game on the radio.

I was sitting on the living room floor, not to far from our console television, with the sound on mute so that we could hear Jack Buck instead of the national announcers.  I can remember the feeling of anxious anticipation with Ozzie at the plate.  No one, not one baseball fan anywhere, can say honestly that they expected what happened next.

Angela at Diamond Diaries explains that reprinting the words and recounting the scene does not do it justice.  The moment, as provided by Ozzie Smith, was shared by Jack Buck.  It was the combination of the two that created a moment in my mind that will live forever.  Without Jack’s call, it was a great walk off moment.  But with Jack Buck on the mic and Ozzie Smith hitting his first home run of the year from the left side of the plate, the moment became iconic.

Number Two: Grief
It is hard to believe that number two on our countdown will have happened 10 years ago by this summer.

I remember the news on June 18, 2022 announcing the passing of a man that I had grown to idolize.  The reason I wanted to write and do radio and continue being around this game was Jack Buck.  The sight of him, frail and suffering, in front of a crowd days after the September 11th tragedy was hard to watch and harder to process.  Legends like him are not supposed to die.  When he passed away, I wept openly.  A man I had never met face to face, yet I felt I spent a portion of my adult life with, was gone and I reacted as if he was family.  Because he was.  One of my first articles for Baseball Digest contained the simple phrase “I miss Jack Buck…” and I don’t think I have written another line with as much feeling as I did that day.

As iconic of a moment as the passing of Jack Buck was, it was four days later that the moment came to close in Chicago.  Settling in to watch a game with the Cubs, I could not understand what the delay was.  The game was delayed but there was no rain and the announcers were not saying why, other than an emergency.  A tearful Joe Girardi, the Cubs catcher and team captain at the time, approached a microphone near the plate and announced that the game would be postponed due to “a death within the Cardinal family”.  We would later find out that Darryl Kile, the Cardinals ace of their pitching staff, had lost his life in his hotel room the night before.  Ironically, Kile’s last pitching performance was a 7-2 Cardinal victory over the Anaheim Angels on the day Jack Buck passed away.

In four short days, the Cardinals family had been shaken to the core.  The moment, all four days of it, is etched in our minds.

Number One: We Will See You Tomorrow Night
Maybe it ranks this high because it was so recent.  Maybe it is because I am a sucker for announcers.  Maybe it is because of who I watched the game with.  Maybe it is all of those reasons.  However you count it, this past post season was magical.

The night of Game Six was amazing, no doubt.  From the game tying hits, the come from behind moments, and the “they just won’t go away” moments, it was an emotional roller coaster ride that I had never experienced as a fan.  The end of the game, however, is what ensured that I would never forget it.

David Freese would send the crowd home happy with a game winning home run to center field that would fit the mold of the season.  A game-six, walk off home run was enough to make it iconic.  What came across the television cinched it as a moment I will never forget.  When I heard Joe Buck exclaim as the ball landed in the grass beyond the center field wall, “We will see you …. tomorrow night,” I immediately commented that he used his father’s call.  A moment for the ages suddenly spanned a generation of fans.  It brought back memories of Jack.  It created a new found respect for Joe.  It wasn’t forced.  It didn’t feel scripted.  It simply flowed across the screen and then, as friend Bob Netherton points out, he and Tim McCarver did the thing that most broadcasters fail to do.  They shut up.  The let the fans at home be overflowed with the emotion of the moment and share in the joy of the fans at the park.  Cardinal Nation, from coast to coast, was united.  It was an amazing, and iconic, feeling.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (3)

UCB Roundtables

The United Cardinal Bloggers group features various projects that the members collaborate on throughout the year. Some of the most popular of these projects is the February round-table discussions.

Day One of these discussions was kicked off by the great site Cardinals GM. You can read that first discussion regarding the membership’s trust of the 2011 Cardinal bullpen by clicking here. Of course, you can always keep track of all the discussions, and the upcoming schedule, by dropping by the official site located here.

Day Two of these discussions belongs to I-70 Baseball and I asked the membership to give me some predictions on four key players on the Cardinals roster this year. I asked for slash line predictions and a short paragraph if they so desired on the following:

Potential MVP – Albert Pujols
Potential CYA – Adam Wainwright
Needs a good year – David Freese
Was he worth it – Lance Berkman

Here is what the faithful had to say:

Mark, Retrosimba

Albert Pujols: .325/40/115.

He’s either playing for a big free-agent contract or playing to justify a huge contract extension.

Adam Wainwright: 17-7/2.95.

If the elbow is good, so is Wainwright.

David Freese: .290/15/70.

He can produce if healthy.

Lance Berkman: .280/24/80.

Seems motivated to show he still has something to offer.

J.D., Bleed Cardinal Red With Me

Albert Pujols: .323 BA/.440 OBP/38 HR/122 RBI

Keeps up Pujols numbers and walks away to the Mets or Dodgers in FA

Adam Wainwright: 22-7 W-L/2.60 ERA/1.05 WHIP/230 IP/210 K’s

Has better numbers than Halladay and Lincecum, but gets 2nd or 3rd in CY again

David Freese: .285 BA/.350 OBP/15 HR/75 RBI

Just hoping for health.

Berkman: .290 BA/.390 OBP/25 HR/95 RBI

Becomes our 1st baseman on a 2 year contract after Pujols leaves

Daniel, C70 At The Bat

Albert Pujols .315/36/115

Age gets to AP a little bit, but not enough to effect his earnings potential (if he is indeed a free agent at the end of the year) or to make us regret a huge contract (if he’s signed before the season starts).

Adam Wainwright 16-8, 3.12 ERA, 200 K

Two superb years in a row, so I’m thinking maybe a small step back. Still the ace of the rotation, though.

David Freese .285/18/72

Hopefully Freese will be out there on a regular basis, staying healthy and all that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t have at least one stretch where he sits on the bench nursing something sore, but isn’t hurt enough to go on the DL.

Lance Berkman .282/21/84

Depending where he winds up hitting, he could be a major force in the lineup. Figure he’ll get replaced often in the seventh inning of games, but I think the bat won’t be an issue.

Dennis, Pitchers Hit Eighth

Albert Pujols – .320 AVG, .435 OBP, 38 HR, 120 RBI

I envision AP consciously taking a few less pitches this year to avoid pitcher’s counts. More aggression, fewer strikeouts to compensate for a slightly slower bat. Same phenomenal stat line.

Adam Wainwright – 20-10, 2.65 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 205 K

I believe he’s already one of the top 10 starters in the league, and he won’t do anything in 2011 to change that opinion. If anything, he may suffer from trying to be too fine at times. Even so, an ERA in the mid 2’s is nothing to scoff at.

David Freese – .305 AVG, .360 OBP, 14 HR, 85 RBI

When healthy, Freese may be one of the most efficient run producers on the team. If he gives the team 600+ plate appearances, I have a lot of faith that the team will be fine. When you consider what was lost when he went down, it’s impressive that the team stayed in the race as long as it did last season.

Lance Berkman – .275 AVG, .330 OBP, 20 HR, 80 RBI

This stat line is more of an expectation than a prediction. It’s really hard to get value out of an $8M deal for a rightfielder.

Steve, The Outfield Ivy

Albert Pujols: .322/40/119 and lets tack on 12 steals.

Always dominating and just playing his game. Big Al posts another incredible MVP-worthy season and further cements himself as a Hall of Famer.

Adam Wainwright: 18-9/2.83/192Ks

A little regression after his stellar 2010 season. But still gets to pitch in the NL Central with a lineup that includes Pujols, Holliday,
& Berkman.

David Freese: .267/10/62

He had a great start last year and will be dependable at 3rd. But I don’t see him developing more power in the majors and posting 20-25 homeruns with 90+ RBIs as he did in high A and triple A ball.

Larry Walker, um I mean Lance Berkman: Yes. he was worth it. .272/22/82

He can still hit. Whether he needs the occasional day or half day off (late inning, pinch-hitting duties) he was worth it. What would you rather have in right field; Berkman at 1yr/$8M or Kosuke Fukudome at 1yr/13.5M

Christine, G9 Sports

Albert Pujols .329 avg/45 HR/123 RBI

Adam Wainwright 18-7, 3.05 ERA, 211 K

David Freese .285 avg/17 HR/72 RBI/145 games played (seems a relevant number)

Lance Berkman .292 avg/35 HR/107 RBI

I will keep with the optimistism during my January headlines prediction

Aaron, El Maquino

Albert: .320/48/130, NLMVP

Waino: 21-9/2.90/210, NLCY

Iceman: .315/15/75

Berkman: .275/25/80

Dustin, Welcome To Baseball Heaven

Albert Pujols – .323 AVG, 43 HR, 132 RBI, .432 OBP

Whether this is an audition year or year one of a new mega deal with the Cardinals I expect a motivated Albert Pujols.

Adam Wainwright – 18-8, 2.74 ERA, 225 K, 1.20 WHIP

The ‘Ace’ of the rotation will put together another fantastic season. I’m leaning towards the strikeouts and walks escalating due to a mindset of a slightly downgraded defense. Maybe trying to do too much at times instead of pitching to contact.

David Freese – .292 AVG, 16 HR, 78 RBI, .358 OBP

I’m basing this outcome on a healthy season. I try and take the optimistic approach with anything Cardinals. If David can stay on the field I look for a very solid campaign.

Lance Berkman – .278 AVG, 24 HR, 84 RBI, .390 OBP

I really do think we’ll see an energized and refreshed Berkman. He’s only 1 year removed from a similar stat line. The thing that really worries me is him playing a full season in the outfield. Good communication will be needed between himself and TLR about him getting off days when needed. I’m sure he’ll also cover Albert’s 3 off days at 1st as well.

Bob, The Outside Corner

Albert Pujols – .328 32 HR 105 RBIs. For only the 3rd time in his career, his OPS drops below 1.000

Albert does indeed sign a long term contract, and in doing so, plays extra hard to prove to the fans and ownership that he is worth it. He will try to run down a ball in foul territory and have a run-in with the tarp, slipping and injuring his leg. He will miss nearly a month of the season, but will return as it nothing had happened. He will rally late, and maintain his streak of 100 RBIs.

Adam Wainwright – 22-8 2.85 ERA. Cy Young Award winner

For all of the talk of the Phillies rotation, Wainwright will be the star pitcher in the National League in 2011. He will lead the league in wins and be third or fourth in ERA, that that will be enough to earn him the Cy Young Award he deserved in 2009.

David Freese is hit by a piece of the International Space Station while taking batting practice in Jupiter, Florida and will miss the entire 2011 season. OK, maybe that was an exaggeration.

David Freese – .305 15 HR 105 RBIs

On paper, the starting 8 of the 2011 Cardinals remind me a lot of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers. They had unbelievable production up and down the batting order. This team may not hit home runs with the regularity of Harvey’s Wallbangers, but the high on-base percentages the heart of the order will put up will give ample RBI opportunities for Freese. His production will look more like a 5th place hitter than the 6th that he will actually hit.

Lance Berkman – .290 18 HR 110 RBIs OBP will approach .380

Berkman will cut down his swing significantly, due to his new role with the Cardinals. The result will be fewer home runs, but a couple of trips to Minute Maid Park will give him some chances to make a statement. Because of hard base running and astronomical on-base percentages of Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols ahead of him, the RBI numbers will rise unexpectedly.

John Mozeliak will look like a genius when Lance Berkman takes over at first base during the Pujols injury.

Dathan, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night

Pujols: .328/41/136

Waino: 19-9 Top 3 CY voting (w Halladay, 1 other)

Freese: If 125+ games, he’ll rake. In the lineup with Pujols, Holliday, Berkman? Yeah, he’ll get some pitches to drive–if he doesn’t produce, it won’t be due to lack of opportunity.

Berkman: .271/16/65 – Decent. Not $8MM (unless you compare his salary to good ole #26), but decent. How about I characterize this way: Less than Ludwick would’ve done in the same situation, but more than Ludwick will do, now that AGon IS Gone…from SD.

Mike, Stan Musial’s Stance

AP: .310/.400/.590, 45HR, 120 RBI.

Every time Albert’s HR production has dropped from the previous year – like his 42 in 2010, down from 47 in 2009 – he has bounced back to hit at least 5 more HR the next season. I’m going with 3 more given he’s 31 this season.

Wainwright: 230 IP, 215K, 1.200 WHIP, 18-11, 3,25 ERA.

I think Adam will suffer from weaker defense up the middle and in RF. He’ll be top 5 in the Cy Young voting.

Freese: 120 G, .285/.350/.420, 15HR, 75 RBI.

Still not convinced Freese will play more than 100 games in 2011, but let’s be optimistic shall we?

Berkman: Where does he hit in the order – 2nd? 5th? Lower? There’s no way he hits between Pujols and Holliday; I’d rather have Rasmus and his speed hit second. So assuming he hits fifth: .285/.340/.440, 15 HR 105 RBI.

I’m not convinced his power will return, but with Rasmus/Pujols/Berkman (and hopefully Theriot) on in front of him he’ll have a chance to drive in a lot of runs.

Andy, Gas House Graphs

I trust the projection systems already in place than my own knee-jerk guesstimate. In that spirit, I’ll provide the most pessimistic and optimistic predictions from the leading projection systems (Pecota, Bill James, Marcel, ZIPS, and Cairo). These systems take many things into account, but at the most basic level, they consider at least three years worth of data, the player’s age, and regress towards some mean. Each individual system follows its own model (you can find specific information about them pretty easily by conducting a Google search), but they universally take into account more than I could off of the top of my mind, and are definitely more objective, eliminating the bias of my fandom.

Marcel – .312/.413/.581, 34, 103
Bill James – .327/.436/.625, 42, 118

It doesn’t really matter which projection system you consult, Albert Pujols’ numbers are always impressive.

Cairo – .262/.374/.445, 19, 78
Bill James – .275/.393/.486, 22, 79

I’d be thrilled with that line from Bill James, but to be honest, I’d take the projection from Cairo too. I’m actually quite surprised that this is the harshest prediction I found for Berkman after last season. That should remind us just how productive he was with the bat pre-2010. He’ll be a butcher in the field, but he’ll take a lot of walks and I expect his slugging to regress positively in 2011.

Cairo – .257/.323/.399, 10, 50
Bill James – .295/.353/.452, 16, 85

That’s quite the discrepancy. Bill James has notoriously optimistic offensive projections, but some of the difference here can be attributed to playing time. Most of the other projection systems are more conservative with Freese’s estimated plate appearances. Personally, I’d take the under on James’ prediction and over on Cairo’s.

(ERA, WHIP, BB/9, K/9)
Bill James – 3.37, 1.21, 2.52 BB/9, 7.46 K/9
ZIPS – 2.85, 1.13, 2.3 BB/9, 8.13 K/9

Adam Wainwright is really good. For James, that would be Wainwright’s highest ERA since 2007, his first year as a SP. He should be better than that considering his steady progression over the past few years.

Big Thank You’s to everyone who took the time to answer the question today.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in CardinalsComments (4)

UCB Round Table: Day 5 – Cardinal Memories

Every season, the United Cardinal Bloggers feature round table discussions with the members of the group, featuring a question from each website, and answers from various bloggers willing to participate. It is Day 5 of the round tables (you can read all of the round table discussions on the official site) and that means I-70 Baseball gets to participate. Here is the email that I sent out to the group for discussion:

As a young man growing up in Missouri, my father took me to a lot of Cardinal games. We were “Bleacher Bums” and would spend hours at the stadium waiting to get tickets (back then, bleachers went on sale 2 hours before game time). I was an autograph hound and would meet the visiting ball players as they walked across the street from the Marriott. I collected autographs in this manor from the time I was 8 years old until I moved out of my parents’ house and no longer went to as many games.

Throughout those years I seen Ozzie do countless backflips, I seen Felix Jose hit a home run that struck the right field scoreboard above my head, I met the “Mayor Of The Bleachers” and listened for hours to his memories, I seen the arrival and departure of more players than I can count that would wear the birds on the bat, and I now have countless stories that I share through the “Classic” sections of the sites I write for.

For today’s roundtable, I ask you to dig deep into your memories. I want to know a Cardinal memory that you have. One of those moments that meant something to you, even if it wasn’t a historical moment to the rest of the world. It doesn’t have to be a World Series win or a playoff walk-off, it can be anything that you remember vividly and can say “I was there for that” or “I was watching that” or even “I saw it through Jack Buck’s eyes on the radio”. Here, I’ll give you one of mine to start with:

Bill Ivie – i70baseball
Andres Galarraga had joined the Cardinals as a very huge acquisition in a trade with the Montreal Expos for pitcher Ken Hill. Galarraga had one year left on his contract and the Cards hoped to catch lightning in a bottle with the “Big Cat”. Renovations had just been completed at Busch Stadium that brought the fences in a little, installed shrubs and flowers along the walls, and placed a large grassy area in the center field “batter’s eye”. Galarraga was hit by a pitch early in the year and sidelined with a fractured bone in his wrist or hand, I honestly do not remember which. When he came off the Disabled List, many fans, announcers and writers started making a big deal out of the fact that he had never hit a home run in St. Louis. With my father, my mother, and I sitting in the bleachers in right field, Galarraga launched his first Busch Stadium Home Run into the center field grassy area. My father jumped the wall and retrieved the ball, bringing it back to me to jump up and down with. A few minutes later, security arrived and escorted my dad, and my souvenir, to a small area near the bathrooms. He was given the option of forfeiting his seat and the ball and being allowed to sit in the very last row of bleachers and stay for the game. If he chose to keep the ball, they would press charges for trespassing as he entered a restricted area of the stadium in order to retrieve the ball. Despite my objections, he turned the ball over to security and took his assigned seat. Galarraga left as a free agent at the end of that season, having hit only 10 home runs in a Cardinal uniform, and heading to Colorado to hit 172 of his 399 career bombs. But, for a brief moment, I held the first one he ever hit in St. Louis in my hands.

Pip – fungoes
In high school, my friends and I sneaked and fibbed our way to any place at Busch Stadium where were weren’t allowed to be, which was usually anywhere but the upper deck. After getting kicked out of the box seats, we got the wild idea to try to meet legendary organist Ernie Hays. After the game, we sweet-talked our way to his booth, where he received us like we were old pals. We asked him about the music he played for the various players, and I asked him if he remembered what he played for Keith Hernandez, who hadn’t been with the team for several years. “Let’s see,” he said. “Ah, yes, it was Jethro Tull — Thick as a Brick.” You just can’t get that kind of info from the internet.

Daniel Shoptaw – C70 At The Bat
There are a lot of memories in my years of following the Cardinals. We went to a few games when I was growing up back in the late ’80s. I actually made it to a Cardinals/Cubs game in ’02, I believe, with Mark Prior on the mound for the Cubbies. There was Ken Griffey Jr.’s #500th home run, and of course the amazingly great memories made this season at the Social Media Extravaganza.

Still, probably the most lasting of memories came from one of those trips to St. Louis when I was growing up. We usually stayed for 2-3 games and, one year, it was camera day back at the old cookie cutter they called Busch Stadium back then (and we lovingly refer to as Busch II nowadays). It must have been ’89, the summer before my ninth grade year, and was on the field behind the ropes with my parents and brother.
I still have a lot of those pictures. Guys that just passed through like Tom Brunansky. The old Redhead, shaking hands. Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, Joe Magrane. Even Fredbird got into the action. Looking back on those pictures now really is a kick.
However, there is one picture that got more prominence. Because all the Cardinals participated in this event, and that meant my hero.
When Ozzie Smith walked around to that spot, numerous kids ducked under the ropes to have their picture taken with him, and I was no exception. Granted, I was about 5-6 years older than the rest of them, but this was Ozzie Smith!
Being around Ozzie’s height worked out, because as he gathers all these kids together, he says, “Where’re we looking?”. I pointed straight to my mother, who was taking the picture, so that Ozzie and I are looking in the same spot while the other kids were looking away at their parents. I wonder how many of them still have that picture and wonder who that goofy kid in the middle was?

That memory got a new tint last summer. After spending the day at FanFest, my wife and kids joined a friend of mine and his family at Ozzie’s restaurant. While we were there, Ozzie actually came in and sat in a private room right behind our table and talked to my son for a while. When Ozzie left, he stopped by our table to say thanks for coming, and I was able to get him to pose with my son. So now both of us have a picture with the Wizard.

Mark Tomasik – RetroSimba
The Glenn Brummer steal of home with two outs in the 12th inning to beat the Giants in St. Louis on Aug. 22, 1982.

I was with two buddies in the third-to-last row from the top of the upper deck behind home plate at Busch Stadium II on that Sunday afternoon. The game was in extra innings and it looked like it might get away from the Cardinals. The steal was so unexpected and so startling that we literally were awestruck. Then, everyone around us started hugging and high-fiving one another and bouncing up and down, total strangers just letting loose and reveling in the joy. The celebration carried on for quite a while as the crowd spilled into downtown St. Louis. The straight steal of home by a reserve catcher to win a game was so emblematic of that ’82 Cardinals season: full of hope and spirit and a sense that anything was possible. It carried right on through the World Series. Pretty special.

Dustin McClure – Welcome To Baseball Heaven
My girlfriend’s Aunt and Uncle had been discussing making the trip to St. Louis to visit us from out of state and bringing their kids (Sonnie 8, Kail 5) so they could attend their first major league baseball game. The time chosen to visit was in the middle of June when the Oakland A’s would be in town. We attended the Saturday night game which was the 2nd game of the series and featured Adam Wainwright on the mound. Our tickets were in the 5th row of the right field bleachers next to the Cardinal’s bullpen.

I’ve never seen as much joy in a 5 year olds eyes as I did in Kail’s the first time we came to the top of the steps to our section and the Busch Stadium playing field was in his view. I tried not to steal too much thunder from his Dad but I had such a great time explaining everything I could to Kail as the game progressed. Filling his head with way more information then he could handle I’m sure.

Going into the bottom half of the sixth Blake Hawksworth appeared from the Cardinal pen to warm up right fielder Ryan Ludwick. As Blake made his way back towards the pen he made eye contact with Kail’s Dad and pointed at Kail as he threw the ball. And with that young Kail took home a lifetime memory that he and his Dad can share for years to come. I was just glad to be a part of it.

Tom Knuppel – Cardinals GM
September 29, 1963, my older brother took me to Stan Musial’s last game. I didn’t realize the significance at the time but knew something was big. The commissioner spoke along with Gussie Busch. I knew it was a long ceremony. Then the game and I remember the loud and raucous cheer for “The Man” every time he batted. Musial had 2 hits that day. I didn’t know till later when I read it later, as I was 11 years old when I attended but Gary Kolb was the pinch runner after Stan’s 2nd hit of the game.I still have the ticket stub for the game!

The other two do not have dates as they are random happenings. I live 3 hours from St Louis and my parents allowed me, a 16 yr old kid, to take 2 friends for the entire weekend several times a year. Now remember, this was the 60’s and we didn’t view the world as a scary place. We always went for take your camera on the field day and things like that. On one game day we got there early , as usual, and watched batting practice. One of my friends dropped his comb accidentally over the center field wall. Gerry McNertney stuck it in his glove and threw his glove up to me to retrieve the comb. For a split second or two we looked at each other and thought about making a run for it with his glove but thought the better of it.

Another weekend we had 2 experiences. The first was away from Busch Stadium. We always stayed around Collinsville area and drove in. I was the only one of the group that did not drink alcohol but i was the oldest. They convinced me to attempt to purchase beer for them. So we drive about a mile out of town to a bar in the middle of the afternoon. I stroll in very cool, calm and collected and order a case of beer. The guy looks at me and asks, “have any ID?” I tell him I don’t as I left my billfold back at the hotel. He gives me a sneer and gets the case to purchase. What do I do next? I pull out my BILLFOLD and pay him He looks at me and laughs out loud and takes my money. I walk out of there shaking my head as I realize I am a big moron!

The second one that same weekend at the ballpark is short. We arrived at the stadium a few minutes later than we wanted, batting practice had started. We are coming down the steps in left center field and a batting practice ball comes careening off the concrete in front of us and continues bounding away. I sprint after it, dive on the concourse to get it among a few other people. When I dove, I knocked a man off his crutches and he hits the ground with a “thud” I got the ball and being a 16 yr old, I am too cool to apologize and stroll away as quickly as possible. My buddies, of course, are laughing their heads off.

We figured we drove to STL about 6 weekends per summer for awhile and the stories mount up. FYI, I never allowed my kids to drive to St Louis at that age (and now you know why)!

Jacqueline Conrad – Cardinal Diamond Diaries
Memories of the Cardinals. Asking me to choose just one is difficult because I’m not good at narrowing down. An extremely memorable and emotional game for me was the very last regular season game at Busch II on Oct 2, 2005. I loved that stadium because it was all I had ever known as home to the Cards. So many memories were tied up in that huge concrete bottle cap. I had deeply mixed feelings that day.

During the actual game against the Reds, I tried to imprint everything that happened for the last time. I remember the National Anthem and the players running onto the field for the last time. I remember silly things like getting my last beer and hot dog from the vendors and waiting in line for the lovely women’s bathroom. For some reason, I remember saying “That’s the last time I’ll see Jimmie Edmonds catch a fly in center field.” Why I vividly remember him I have no idea. I don’t remember whether we won or lost.

But the most emotional part was the long ceremony after the game. No-one left. Everyone stood and yelled and cried. We were celebrating four decades of memories in the stadium. They honored so many people and players. I cried the whole ceremony. My dad was not able to come and the ceremony was not televised by FSMW, so I called him and gave him the minute by minute account of what was happening and who was there. Of course the Hall of Famers were there, but so were loads of players from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s teams. I was particularly excited to see my favorite player growing up, Tommy Herr. I know people around me thought I was loony, screaming and crying into my phone to my dad details of what was going on. But the thing that was the most emotional to me was when the Clydesdales appeared and clip clopped around the stadium with everyone standing and singing ‘Here Comes the King’.

So from the very first time I saw that stadium, that to me was like the Roman Coliseum, to that very last game, Busch II will always hold a place in my heart.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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