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Goodbye Busch Stadium
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
busch stadium
I can't believe it's time has already come. It was here that I learned to love baseball; here where my dad and I would buy $3 dollar nose-bleed seats and watch the little ant baseball players run around; here where I saw Ozzie Smith, my favorite player of all time, turn his acrobatic double plays. I remember marveling that big league players got to play on fake grass. Then as I got older and Astroturf went out of fashion (it is too hard to dive on amongst other problems), I saw the entire green carpet replaced by natural grass.

One time on a trip to St. Louis, we got to sit with our friend Jerry Shmutz in his company seats - real close on the third base side. Foul ball goes up that ends in my father's hands, he gave it to me. I was still a little kid, when you think you're dad's a hero anyways, but that tops it all. My dad caught a foul ball at Busch Stadium and gave it to me. I couldn't let go of that ball. I slept with it. Eventually the ball was lost in tragic circumstances that made its loss petty (Hurricane Katrina), but I can still feel that ball in my hand if I think about.

It's never been a beautiful stadium; it comes from a pragmatic era that built everything out of cement. But it's still too bad that it has to be knocked down for a new retro stadium with more sky-boxes for rich people and corporations. My dad had the great idea that if they're going to knock it down, we ought to go see one last series there. I bought tickets to the 3 game series vs the Boston Red Sox - a sort of rematch of the 2004 World Series.
 
corvette
I arrived a day before my dad to hang out with Jason who grew up in St. Louis (more so than me, I only lived there 3 years). He drove me around in his vette. I never realized how wide they are.
 
arches
My dad and I killed time before the games by seeing sites and testing our luck
 
busch stadium 2
But the real heart of the trip came early every evening as we made the 1-2 mile trip from our hotel to Busch Stadium. I'm fortunate to live in Boston which has a similar (though I'd say too aggressive) heart for baseball.
 
cardinals parking
But it's much more fun to be in a baseball town that breaths Cardinal air.
 
friends
Our old friends, the Shmutzes still live near St. Louis and came to the game with us, and it's always nice to see how people have turned out. Jennifer, still often called by her baby name "iffer" in my family, was a baby when I was a little kid. The last time we met was at the 1996 Olympics in GA and she was almost my age. Now she's the same age as me - strange how that works.
 
batting practice
We got there a little early and watched at little batting practice as we took our seats.
 
cardinals morris
Matt Morris was on the mound tonight, and it was important to my dad and I to get the early win. That way we'd be guaranteed that we didn't travel over 1500 miles (500 for my dad, 1000 for me) to watch our team lose three in a row.
 
cardinals pujols
Pujols and the Cardinals didn't let us down, and my dad and I were much relieved to take the first one. During the game, Jerry pointed out to us that David Eckstein the Cardinal's shortstop has a superstitious little thing where he always jumps the little dirt spot between home and first base. After the game, Jason gave us a call and told us to meet him at the bar behind the stadium.

It was a giant bar with the smelliest porta-johns in the world (it was hot outside and they were roasting; everyone was peeing behind them. going inside one was only for people with stomachs of steel.) A few of the players were at the bar: Renteria (a former Cardinal that was having a bad year with the Red Sox), Tavares (a Cardinal who later went on to have a bad year with the Red Sox), and Manny.
 
st louis 1
The next day we ventured out into Downtown, which, although almost uninhabited by residents,
 
st louis 2
has generated a nice collection of art, by letting people paint the electric boxes that run the street lights.
 
lacledes
We had lunch at Laclede's Landing,
 
arch
walked by the arch,
 
casino
and sailed upon a short stretch of bad luck.
 
stan musial
The Cardinals built a statue park out side the stadium with Stan the Man and
 
the Wiz
the Wizard of Oz
 
the Wiz and me
with one of his biggest fans
 
busch stadium 3
That night our job as professional baseball watchers set in as we watched the grounds crew do their routine that was now familiar to us. The cardinals won again, and we knew that with 2 out of 3 at worst, our baseball trip was already successful.
 
zoo 1
No trip in my family is complete without an adventure gone bad. My dad and I took the light rail to the zoo where we'd gone so much when I was a kid in St. Louis (the zoo is free and my parents had little money in those days)
 
zoo 2
But the train let's you off on the opposite side of the GIANT park that contains the zoo. And it was hot.

But my dad and I rarely take adventures where we don't reach our goal (even though in hindsight often reaching the goal serves little purpose). So we walked on, for many miles in the oppressive humidity.
 
zoo 4
And we made it. But it was too hot to go around.
 
zoo 5
So we saw a couple bears
 
zoo 6
and got our monkey smellin selves back to the air conditioned hotel room.
 
busch stadium 4
The last day it looked like a rain out.
 
busch stadium 5
But they really needed to get the game in since it was interleague play, which is hard to make up.
 
busch stadium 6
Jerry, Jennifer, and Jason were coming to the game with us. Jason hung out at the bar waiting for the game to start while we killed time hoping the rain would go away.

Here's what they've built so far of the inside of the new Busch Stadium.
 
busch stadium 7
It was a few hours late, but the game eventually started.
 
busch stadium 8
At about 11:30 PM or so, most of the fans (who had work the next day) were rolling out before the game was over (including Jerry and Jennifer). Jason, my dad, and I snuck downstairs to some closer seats.
 
busch stadium 9
The Cardinals lost the game.
 
busch stadium 10
But we were still happy, because the Cardinals won the series, and we got to see one last game at
 
busch panarama
Busch Stadium