Saturday, October 01, 2005

THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES FROM BUSCH STADIUM

In just a few minutes I will be leaving with my dad to go to St. Louis for our last Cardinals game in Busch Stadium. I thought this might be worthy of a post to share some of my thoughts and memories from the hallowed ground of Busch Stadium.Frankly, I am ticked off to see the beautiful place get blown up. It was the park my dad always took me to, and where I had hoped to take my son to games.

You know I was in second grade when I knew I had a pretty cool dad. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 7 years old in the second grade, it was 1982. Early in the school year, late in the baseball season. The Cardinals were in a tight pennant race with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies came to town that night to open up a crucial 3 game series with the Cardinals.

I wa sitting in class and I looked up and low and behold there was my dad walking through the door. My second grade teacher Mrs. Matthews walked over to greet him, and he whispered something in her ear, and almost immediately she turned and said "Randy, your dad is here to take you home". I was shocked because this certainly was not an every day occurence. First of all I thought I must be in real trouble if dad is missing work to get me out of school. But I made no fuss at the day away from the second grade.

Walking out to the car was a walk of mixed emotions. Excited about getting out of school, and fearful trying to remember everything I had done in the days prior to reassure myself that I was not in trouble. When I was fairly certain I had done nothing that I had not yet been punished for I spoke up and asked "dad what's the deal"? His reply, the coolest words I have ever heard, and words I will never forget, he just simply said "I just kinda thought you would like to go to the Cardinals game tonight."

So we jumped in the car and off we went to watch the Cardinals and Phillies. I was only 7 and don't remeber too much about the game, just the fact that the Cardinals were done in by hall of famer and former Cardinal Steve Carlton. The events after the game I remember also like it was yesterday.

It is not like this anymore but in the old days the players used to exit the clubhouse and walk across the street to the players parking lot. We waited outside for players to come outside. I remember getting the autographs of Willie McGee, Ken Oberkfell, and Darrell Porter. I also remember watching Whitey Herzog being interviewed inside this window by a TV crew. We pounded on the window during the interview only to have the shades pulled shut.

One player I also remember (unfortunately) and to this day a player that I absolutely hate. One of the few things that really bothers me about Cardinal Nation is this notion that we are to classy to boo our own players. To that I say hogwash, if a player is not hustling I think he is worthy of a boo. Now I do not condone booing a guy just because he is slumping, but if he quits hustling I boo. There have been a few Cardinal players that I have not particularly cared for Gary Templeton, Tino Martinez, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen to name a few. This guy we saw that night is beyond these guys. I hate to say this but it borders on hatred. In fact I will say it, I wouldn't get out of the electric chair for Tommy Herr.

Tommy Herr came walking out of the clubhouse that night. Now I will say this in Herr's defense I don't really remember much about the game so he might have had a terrible night. It certainly was not good that the Cardinals opened up a crucial home series with a loss to the Phillies, but Herr's actions were inexcusable.

Herr walked out, and there was a group of maybe 5 or 6 of us kids waiting outside (it was a school night and like 11 oclock at night) anyway we all ran up to Herr to get autographs. Tommy Herr cussed us out. He didn't just refuse to sign and say he was busy, he cussed us out. I also remember my dad and a few other dad's giving it right back to him. I distinctly remember Herr running across the street, turning around, grabbing his crotch, and flipping us the bird. I think this was just before my dad yelled calling him "an arrogant piece of dog @#$%." So to this day I hate Tommy Herr. I even saw him at the game last night when the Cardinals homored the 1985 team, and it cused my blood to boil.

I have many great memories of Busch Stadium. Witnessing McGwire tie Roger Maris was certainly one. Opening day in 1995, the first game after the strike. I also was able to attend game 2 of the 2002 NLCS against the Giants, which was my first playoff game. A game against the Padres where my dad and I paid like 100 dollars to broadcast an inning of a game, and they taped it. We had a riot that day.

I have seen the Cardinals win, seen 'em lose. I saw them blow a 6 run lead in the 9th inning to the Reds a few years ago. I also saw them come back from like 7 runs down against the Giants. Winning on and Edgar Renteria HR that bounced over the fence off Barroid Bonds glove.

I have many terrific memories of that place. Even today when we drive over the lst hill on I 55 and see the arch for the first time I get excited. Coming over the bridge and see those 96 archways in the top of the stadium my heart still skips a beat. Maybe I am just a homer, probably so, but I have been to Wrigley, I have been to Shea Stadium, I have been to Comsikey, the Ballpark at Arlington, Dodger Stadium, but nothing excites me like a game at Busch Stadium. I'm gonna miss her.