Early Sunday morning we awoke, checked out of our hotel, and were on the the road again. This time headed across the Show Me State to our final destination, St Louis and beautiful Busch Stadium. The drive from KC to St Louis was simple enough, and we arrived with enough time to check in at the hotel, and walk to the park. On the way, we were able to take a quick glimpse of the Mississippi, and even walk under the Gateway Arch before coming to the new Ballpark Village in Center Field.
The weekend series against the Cubs drew a huge gate for the three game series, which saw many of the Wrigley Faithful make the trip south. I decided to stay neutral in the whole rivalry, instead gearing up with my familiar Expos hat and shirt. Spoke a few people about the progress in Montreal as I always do, of course.
The stadium itself was exactly what you’d expect from a team like the Cardinals. Classic clean look, statues, fans everywhere, and a fantastic view of Downtown St Louis. I took in my normal walkabout and was amazed by the crowds, and variety of things on the go. The Ballpark Village is alive and I could definitely see this as a new trend for ballparks around the country.
Food options were plentiful, so I went simple and enjoyed an excellent sausage with a little sauerkraut. And of course, I collected my last ice cream helmet of the trip. Busch Stadium offered Dippin’ Dots around every corner, but I could not resist a Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, especially given that it was one hell of a hot afternoon.
As it was Mother’s Day, the Cardinals gave away a great glass photo frame to the first 20,000 fans over 18. In addition, FredBird brought his dear MotherBird to the ballpark, and hilarity ensued. Best part was her excessively pecking a random guy during the kiss cam. As was the case in Kansas City, both the Cards and Cubs were rocking the pink uniforms, and pink bats as well.
For one of the great, classic rivalries in baseball, I was actually a little surprised at how tame things were. Maybe it was because everyone brought their mothers, or the fact that the Cubs are riding their first World Series title in a hundred-some years, but both fans bases were pretty laid back, making for a fun environment. My favorite part had to be during the Seventh Inning Stretch, which was mostly being sang by the 47 thousand strong at a normal to low level. Suddenly, as if to remind the visiting fans who’s house it was, every Cards fan in the stadium, belted out CARDINALS during the “root root root for the home team” line, increasing the volume in a noticeable and hilarious way.
For the game itself, it was a battle of the Aces as Adam Wainwright and Jake Arrieta were on the mound. The Cubs, still battling injuries and inconsistencies had just called up top prospect Ian Happ. Sadly for them, the Cardinals, powered by 2 home runs by Yadier Molina, rocked Arrieta, and scored 5 runs on 12 hits overall, blanking the North Siders, 5-0.
Overall, I enjoyed the stadium more than expected (Still a little butthurt over the 2012 NLDS) and can’t wait to plan my next trip. The Cardinals do a great job of balancing their history with their current roster, and marketing the Redbird brand throughout the park, something other colored bird teams could learn from.
The next day, I’d be on a plane, heading back home after a fun filled baseball roadtrip, already planning my next several trips. To those that have not taken in these three parks, I can recommend it enough. Three unique and fun parks all within 12 hours of each other, plus so much Americana on the way. The food, the baseball, the laughs, the memories, that’s what roadtrips are all about. Plan yours today!