St. Louis Cardinals
After our intimate flight from Atlanta on a near-empty plane, Mom and I landed in St. Louis. We took the MetroLink train to our hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant. After we checked in to the room I emptied out my tote bag and picked the peanut shells out of the bottom. As much as I joke about portion size and why do they put the peanuts in one big bag at the ball park if it’s not one serving, I have never eaten a whole bag of peanuts when I get them at the ball park. Actually, my ball park snack of choice is popcorn or Dippin Dots. So the half of the bag of peanuts I’d bought at the baseball game was in my tote. After going through security screens and jostling at the airport and boarding/exiting the plane, the bag had pretty much dumped all the peanuts in my tote to fend for themselves!
After sleeping in a little bit and having a nice breakfast, we took the MetroLink back to the airport to leave our bags in a lockers to retrieve when we came back to catch our plane. Then we took the train into town for the baseball game. Mom wanted to see who was playing close enough to make a “stop on the way home” You know, since we were out of the home state anyway. She was an avid Cubs fan and the Cubs were in St. Louis, so St. Louis was where we found our hotel after the Olympics and we went to the Sunday game at Busch Stadium before catching out flight back to Detroit.
When I say Busch Stadium, I mean the Busch Stadium that was there in 1996, not the new one they play at now. The old Busch Stadium was a very nice stadium, built in the old cookie-cutter style that was the popular stadium building style in the 60s. I was amazed and in love with the Gateway Arch from the moment I saw it, my larger than life art thing, and I liked that you could see the Arch from places in the stadium.
Mom and I, dressed in our Cubby-blues, found the fans to be welcoming and friendly, as we usually found when visiting other National League parks. We planned trips to visit National League parks more often because we saw the American League teams at home in Detroit. I’d never been to an out of town game, even dressed in the opponent’s team-wear, that I wasn’t welcomed by friendly fans until I went to an Interleague game, Chicago-Chicago. Interleague Play brings out the worst in the fans. Even though the Cubs and Cardinals are an old rivalry, the fans were welcoming. There was the expected friendly barbs thrown about the predicted outcome of the game, but before the game the questions of where we were from, how long we were in St. Louis and things we must come back to see highlighted our conversations with other fans.
The game was close, so close it went in to extra innings. We were watching the clock because we had to get back to the airport. My favorite relief pitcher on the Cubs and I’d say in all of baseball at the time was Turk Wendell. He was a good reliever and I’d watched him interacting with some kids art Wrigley from the bullpen. I recognized the magic he was bringing them because I’d experienced that magic from Tigers reliever, John Hiller, when I was a kid. It made me a Wendell fan on many levels.
The game had been slow and it was a 5-5 tie going in to the tenth inning. Generally, I prefer to be there early, but I’d rather miss the first pitch than leave before the last out. I also don’t like the idea of missing my plane. After the Cubs half of the tenth, no change in score, we really had to leave. Turk Wendell was announced as the Cubs new pitcher. Oh the agony of leaving then! We grabbed our tote bags and moved towards the door. There’s a thing about darned Murphy and his laws; like the law that says if you leave your team during a tie game it doesn’t bode well for your team. As we walked out, Wendell pitching and Ray Lankford at bat, I heard “CRACK” and an erupting Cardinals crowd. Yep, a solo walk-off homer. He couldn’t wait until I was all the way out to hit that? Stupid Murphy!
We did get to the airport in time to get our bags and get checked in for our plane ride home. It was fine. I just could have been more celebratory!