Major League Baseball Park #8 out of 39
Saturday, July 2, 1994
Colorado Rockies 7, St. Louis 5
W– Mike Munoz
L – Rich Rodriguez
Attendance – 34,423
Sunday, July 3, 1994
Colorado Rockies 5, St. Louis 2
W– Mike Munoz
L – Rene Arocha
Attendance – 29,768
Friday, July 30, 1999
Colorado Rockies 5, St. Louis 4
W– Pedro Astacio
L – Manny Aybar
Attendance – 46,208
The multi-purpose Busch Stadium opened May 12, 1966, as a natural grass field
and closed at the end of the 2005 season with a natural-grass surface. From
1970 to 1995, AstroTurf™ was installed and late in the 1985 season the automatic turf-rolling
machine tried to eat then-Cardinal outfielder Vince Coleman. The stadium had a large
area of foul territory and from 1966 to 1991, batters had to hit the ball 415
feet to get it over the center-field wall. A tradition of good contact hitters
and better pitchers gave Cardinals' fans five World Series appearances between
1967 and 1987.
We survived the night in Kansas City and made our way east across Missouri on Interstate 70. I can't imagine how much fun the 1985 World Series must have been for Missouri.
We got a little bit lost on the way into St. Louis and spent a few minutes wandering East St. Louis, Illinois. Nothing like being a couple of guys in a rented Ford Probe rolling through one of the poorest places in the country to force us to count our blessings. No other cars on the roads. People wandering around, sitting on stoops in 90-degree weather. Trailers turned into grocery/liquor stores. There were banners near the middle of town that promised some of kind of civic rebuilding, but it gave us the feeling that we had stumbled on the set of another Michael Moore movie. I hope that town recovers someday soon.
Tim and I made it to Busch in time for batting practice and we wandered around the left-field bleachers trying to catch a few baseballs. After about thirty minutes or so, I was standing just above and behind Tim when this screaming line drive headed for our location. Just as I started to think "Hey, that might get kinda close...", there was a loud pop and the ball landed squarely in Tim's glove. Well, now, we each had a pregame souvenir baseball.
Busch Stadium didn't look like much from the outside back in 1994. It was in a good location -- downtown St. Louis about a mile from the Gateway Arch. Like many of the other parks I'd already seen, it was multi-purpose (the NFL's Cardinals played there until they moved to Phoenix), but this one had the special feature of 96 small arches surrounding the top level of seats.
For that first game in 1994, we had upper-deck seats along the first-base line. This was the first park I'd visited where the game seemed like an event. A white neon eagle (Budweiser symbol) flapped it wings on the scoreboard when the Cardinals did something good (just for homers, I think). The vendors looked like they enjoyed their jobs ("Would anyone like a sodeeee? With a free straw?" Hey, man! We'd better hurry up! Tewksbury's pitchin'!") It was like a baseball party with almost 35,000 invited guests.
The Gateway Arch could be seen from our seats and a few minutes after the sun had set behind us, we realized that the folks at the Arch were arranging a Fourth of July fireworks display. We discovered soon after that we were downwind from the fireworks as we were pelted with burned pieces of paper during the game.
We stuck around for the Sunday afternoon game and decided to spend some money for one of those Budweiser Play-by-Play events. Our seats for that were on the press level and also along the first-base line. Of course, I was a little nervous during our inning. Tim, on the other hand, played it like Dick Enberg, Jr. I hope someone with some broadcaster connections was listening.
When the three of us returned to St. Louis in July of 1999 (first trip for Dawn, though), Busch Stadium had been substantially remodeled. The AstroTurf had been replaced with grass in 1996. Seats were removed in the top-level outfield to make room for a hand-operated scoreboard, a display for retired numbers, and an area honoring Cardinals inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Statues of Enos "Country" Slaughter, Stan "The Man" Musial and several other Cardinals lined up along an area outside the stadium. Another nice day at the park...except for a heat index that reached 118 degrees. It actually felt like I was on fire while we were walking from the stadium to the Arch and back again. Just too dang hot.
Below are a few pictures from the 1999 trip. The first one was taken from outside and in the direction of the statues. The second is a shot of the stadium as seen looking west from the Gateway Arch. The third is a closer shot of the statues of Musial and Slaughter (I think). The fourth is a shot of the south edge of the Arch from the ground. The last one is a framed drawing that hangs in Ozzie Smith's restaurant. Ozzie's voice and likeness were used in a classic 1992 episode of The Simpsons and creator Matt Groening gave Ozzie a copy of the "team photo".
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