With overnight storms dropping temperatures here in St Louis from the 80’s on Sunday into the 40’s by mid day Monday afternoon, I decided to hobble my way through the strong gusty winds (with the help of my rollator) for the near mile walk to my nearest bus stop for the start of my first 2011 trip to Busch Stadium.
With the deal I got on these tickets and my inner “need” to get to the ballpark, I thought little of the damp, cold conditions as I boarded the bus to the Metrolink station at about 4 PM.
Riding the train I was able to access that night’s starting line ups via my netbook and entered them into my scorebook in preparation of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I try to score every game I attend. This of course bothers my wife who sometimes accompanies me, as I get the “Stop Ignoring Me” glares and comments. Hence I truly enjoy the games by myself.
Arriving at the stadium about an hour and half prior to first pitch and making my way around the park wearing my Mets winter jacket, I was subjected to at least 30 good natured jabs and barbs from fans and stadium personnel. As I prepared to enter at Gate 6, I was met by “Good ole’ Karl the “bag inspector/usher” who of course welcomed me back to the park and feigned utter disgust at seeing my apparel. I ambled my way down the ramp leading to the right field bleacher section and was happily welcomed back by my pal Gail who along with her husband, Bud, holds down the “host/hostess/usher’ duties in the all inclusive Homer’s Landing section of the stadium. After sitting and chatting with Bud and Charlie from security I saw Tom using a squeegee to remove standing water from the bleacher area and was greeted by yet another hearty handshake when he caught my eye. While we talked about the goings on of the past winter and the state of Cardinal baseball and baseball and life in general, I realized that this camaraderie was almost as important a part of my baseball experience as the games themselves. Discussions about the clubs adding of more seating at the cost of some ADA vantage points and the talk of ill health befalling one of our beer vendor buddies seemed for a few minutes quite relevant.
It was about a half hour after I’d settled into “my area” in right field just above section 172, near the Cards bullpen and 7 or 8 batting practice home run balls had peppered the area that I was “snuck up upon” by yet another fan giving me a “hard time” about my Mets jacket. After a moment or two, the fan pointed back to my other side where stood my good pal, Ira, the good natured, friendly “boss” of the area around bleacher sections 509 and 511. He like the others greeted me with a smile and big handshake. We discussed the world and its minutiae since we’d seen each other last October and quickly got into the “real stuff” BASEBALL!
As Ira went about his “duties” I was soon “surprised” by a tap on the shoulder followed by a hug from Lisa, my second favorite Illinois elementary school teacher ( Yeah, Renee, you win this one) and co favorite (With Bob) section 172 usher. She later showed that classroom discipline by “kicking out’ a blanket clad 10-12 year old from his perch leaning over the rail peering into the bullpen. (I laughingly kid)
Pretty soon Ira and I were back chatting again when longtime season ticket holder, Bob, came walking up using his usual can but looking better than he had last year. We chatted with Bob about the ticket pricing and how good he looked. He walked away smiling. Nice Guy.
Busch public address announcer John Ulett then welcomed the fans to “Baseball Heaven” as he does for every game and then we were standing for the playing of “God Bless America” and our “National Anthem” which of course I sing along with and silently (on this night) castigate the idiots who had not removed their hats
The game moved along smoothly for the first 4 innings as the Cards manufactured a run in support of starter Kyle Lohse via a Lance Berkman walk and Allen Craig single followed by a run scoring double play grounder off the bat of David Freese. Lohse allowed 2 hits and had struck out 4 in facing 1 hitter over the minimum through 5 innings when the lug nuts loosened after a leadoff single by Pirates shortstop Ronnie Cedeno was flowed by a sacrifice that moved him to second and a walk to Jose Tabata. One or two lug nuts worked free as Neil Walker doubled to left scoring Cedeno and Tabata. The entire wheel came whirling off for Lohse as Andrew McCutcheon followed by crushing a one strike sinker that didn’t, over the wall in left for his second homer of the season.
The Redbirds rallied for 2 runs in the eighth to make the final 4-3.
The game, BASEBALL, while it certainly is what it’s all about and is something I treasure, is really just a part of my enjoyment as I genuinely missed the interaction with my “stadium Friends”
I enjoyed it so much; I think I may just go back for a few more games. Let’s make that I will definitely be back, starting tonight when I’ll be in “my spot” chatting with my friends at the ballpark and my “Mets” friends who’ll be watching and listening (as will I thanks to MLB At Bat) our beloved Blue and Orange take on the hated rivals in Philadelphia via my chat here at http://www.ajgmets.net/ … the chat should be ready to go.
So As ALWAYS!