Baseball Hall of Fame Tour

This morning, I took a few hours to go visit the We Are Baseball: Baseball Hall of Fame Tour, which is currently set up at Ballpark Village, across the street from Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis.

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The mobile exhibit consists of five trailers, each with a different theme, and an IMAX movie.

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The first trailer I visited was Our Game Today and Tomorrow. This was the much-anticipated virtual reality portion of the exhibit. After donning a headset and headphones, I visited several different ballparks, and saw them from different vantage points, including a batter’s eye view. It was really thrilling to see the action of a baseball game this way, but I really hoping they weren’t recording me, because I was spinning around in my chair, and looking up, down, left, and right, trying not to miss a thing!

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Next I toured Our Hall of Famers. In this exhibit, you can virtually view any Hall of Fame plaque…I made sure to look through all the former Cardinals players who have had the honor of being inducted. There are also several artifacts in this part of the tour, including a cap that was worn by Stan the Man, a glove that belonged to Johnny Bench, Joe DiMaggio’s and Ty Cobb’s jerseys, and a pair of shoes worn by Cool Papa Bell. You can even make your own Hall of Fame “plaque,” which will be e-mailed to you if you choose.

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Our Memories was the next part of the exhibit. Here you can see clips of famous baseball moments, check out even more artifacts, such as David Freese’s shredded Game Six jersey and the cap worn by Nolan Ryan when he pitched his fifth no-hitter. There is also a spot for you to record your favorite baseball memories…like many other visitors, mine focused on watching Game Six at home! You can even picture yourself in a moment of baseball history, as a player, an ump, or even a member of the famous Milwaukee Brewers sausage race!

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The Our Traditions trailer was perhaps the most whimsical. There were many photos from around the nation, of ballpark foods, mascots, and traditions. There were also a few more artifacts, including a piece of the Green Monster, and a pair of Harry Caray’s glasses. There was even a game station, where you have the opportunity to earn points for your home team!

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The Our Stories exhibit, on the other hand, was the most serious one. It focused on courage, diversity, and playing through adversity. There were narratives of players with physical disabilities and illnesses, descriptions of heroes like Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, stories of dark times in American history, like the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s, and what baseball meant to them, and even information on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

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Finally, there was a IMAX movie…even though it was indoors, the seats had a ballpark feel! The movie talked not only about Major League baseball, but baseball at all levels, from t-ball in small town parks through the Little League World Series in Williamsport PA, and beyond, and not only in America, but around the world. It also offered a glimpse at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which has strengthened my resolve to go there someday and see it for myself.

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This was a fantastic exhibit, especially for someone like me who loves baseball and history, but who lives pretty far away from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Every person working there was friendly and knowledgeable, and all of the exhibits were extraordinarily well done. This tour will be in St. Louis through September 11, 2016…if you have time to get downtown before it leaves, I highly recommend it!

The Home Opener

Today was the Cardinals home opener. As always, we enjoyed it from the comfort of our home:

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Even though we had a big Opening Day dinner for the season opener just over a week ago, we had another special ballpark-themed meal today:

It was a fantastic Opening Day. The rain left the area just in time, the sun came out, a nice breeze was blowing, our rookie Hazelbaker had an awesome game, and the Cardinals pounded the Brewers. You really can’t ask for more!

A Ballpark Style Feast for Opening Day

Today was Opening Day, not just for the Cardinals, but for all of Major League Baseball. No, the Cards didn’t play at home, and no, they didn’t win, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our traditional Opening Day feast that Ryan started several years ago!

We had all your traditional ballpark foods: hot dogs (with a variety of toppings, including my homemade chili), brats (I like mine with sauerkraut and spicy mustard), nachos, and Super pretzels. We even had sundae cups for dessert!

And, as always, I took a picture of the children in their favorite Cardinals gear:

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After waiting (rather impatiently) all winter, it’s hard to believe another Opening Day has come and gone all ready. I’m just hoping this first game wasn’t a harbinger of things to come for the Cards, and they have another great season!

Quote of the Day

Evelyn. You’re still missing the cut-off man. Now, that’s something I’d like you to work on before next season. Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own

Leadership

It was the moment that no baseball fan wants to see. Watching on live TV, as a favorite rookie gets hurt. Not just hurt in a “Oh great, another one might have to go on the DL, and we’re going to have to seriously think about playing Oquendo, and Kozma may actually have to catch,” way, but in a “That man is not moving, I hope this isn’t a life-threatening situation” way.

But, that was the Cardinals game last night, after Stephen Piscotty and Peter Bourjos collided in the outfield, with Bourjos’ knee making contact with Piscotty’s head. It looked awful, especially as you watched Piscotty crumple to the ground and lie motionless, while Bourjos waved frantically for help.

The players were stunned. Many of them dropped to their knees, and I imagine more than a few were offering a quick prayer. The crowd was stunned. Bourjos looked stricken. Can you imagine what must have been going through his head?

But there was an unsung hero as the drama on the field unfolded, someone who, after only playing with us for a single season, already clearly exemplifies everything the Cardinals organization holds dear. Someone I hope gets a nice, long contract in the off-season that will have him staying with us for a good, long time.

Jason Heyward.

We all know him for his amazing defensive plays. He’s not the current Golden Glove winner for nothing. And we know he can come through at clutch moments with the bat, as well.

But what I saw on the field last night was the type of leadership you always hope to see from professional athletes, but in reality, you don’t get to witness often.

You might have missed it. The focus was totally on Piscotty, as was right. But, if you were paying attention, off to the side, came Heyward. Bourjos was clearly agitated, and Heyward began talking to him, and casually led him away from the frightening scene. I don’t know what was said. I don’t even know if Heyward was really thinking about what he was doing, or if it was just an instinct to help out his teammate, and try to get his mind off of what happened. But, it was a much-needed action…one look at Bourjos’ face made it clear that he was upset, and probably feeling some guilt, and possibly also in physical pain himself. So Heyward stepped up. He couldn’t do anything for Piscotty…that was left to the trainers and doctors. But he could do something to help the man still standing, and he did.

At the major league level, you expect to see highly skilled players. But true leadership is rarer. The guys that smooth out a bad situation, or light a fire under their teammates’ tails when necessary. The guys that can lighten up the mood in the clubhouse, or tell their teammates that it’s time to get serious. Heyward himself is still a young player, and still new to the Cardinals organization, yet he’s already showing the ability to take on that kind of leadership role.

We acquired Heyward for his known skill in the outfield. We need to keep him because he’s the kind of leader our team needs. Get that man a contract, and sign Heyward!

Turner Field

I don’t know if it’s obvious, but we’re a baseball family. So of course, when planning our vacation, we had to figure out a way to visit a ballpark we had never been to before. Going to Atlanta was barely out of the way to Charleston, so we decided that we’d take in a Braves game at Turner Field while we were on the road!

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Our seats were OK…we were more interested in seeing the whole park than where we were sitting, which is why we went for the super-cheap outfield seats, instead of our preferred spot behind home plate or along the baselines. We were shocked at how few fans were at the ballpark!

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The best part of visiting a new ballpark (for me at least) is seeing what is unique to that location. In Atlanta, this includes a lot of Delta sponsorship, Waffle House, and references to Hank Aaron everywhere!

And the giant drum that leads the infamous Tomahawk Chop!

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There were plenty of opportunities for family photos, as well:

We also enjoyed walking around “Monument Grove:”

And seeing the different views from different places in the ballpark:

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And one last tribute to Hank Aaron in the parking lot:

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I don’t think I’d ever care to go back to Atlanta (the traffic was a nightmare!), but I’m glad to say I’ve been to yet another Major League ballpark!

American Girl Night at the Ballpark

Tonight was American Girl Night at Busch Stadium, so of course I had to take the girls. It was very fun!

We had good seats:

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The highlight of the evening was seeing Kolten Wong hit a grand slam…very exciting! Ladybug has been wanting to see a grand slam for a long time, so it was a dream come true for her, and I enjoyed watching her excitement. We had a very fun girls’ night out!