Busch Stadium Tour II

So, um, seven months ago (!!!), Ryan and I took the children on a Busch Stadium tour. I briefly mentioned it here, but never got around to sharing pictures. Since I posted about the tour the first time we went, shared a fantastic dugout picture from last summer, and because so much time has passed, I won’t recap everything…I’ll just hit the highlights. I will say, we had the two best possible tour guides  I could have imagined (Fred and Jay)…they not only both had an incredible amount of baseball knowledge, but they had awesome personal stories as well!

I did get a better peak at the Cardinals Club this time, the exclusive restaurant at which green seat ticket holders get to eat:

You tend to notice new or different things (or just see them from a different perspective), each time you take the tour (or visit the ballpark at all, really):

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I never tire of the view from the field!

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It may be a bit colder now than the day we visited Busch Stadium, but tours are offered all year long, and it might be just the right thing to help you get ready for Spring Training, and feel a little Cardinals spirit, even in the bleak midwinter that is February!

What Can You Say About a 22 Year-Old Boy Who Died?

Cardinal Nation is reeling today, after having some time to process yesterday’s tragic news about the death of outfielder Oscar Taveras.

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Taveras was so young…only 22 years old. People his age aren’t supposed to die, not for any reason. But I’m not sure that his age is the only thing that makes this so upsetting. Of course it’s horrible when someone in the prime of a very promising life is lost too early, but I think there’s something else here that makes it even harder to take.

Professional athletes are our heroes. They’re almost super-human. Their strength and speed, coordination and mental toughness, make them achieve more on their worst day than we could ever hope for on our best. We revel in their accomplishments like they are our own, cheer them on, and talk about them incessantly, as you do when you’re discussing a hero.

Super heroes aren’t supposed to die. They’re so powerful on the field, that we assume that extends to their private lives as well. Even those of us in St. Louis who have seen this happen too often in recent years want to believe that this kind of tragedy just can’t happen again. We assumed that our rookie had a long, promising career in front of him, hoped he would be a Cardinal for life.

Well, he was. It was far too short of a life, and we never got to see his potential fulfilled. But his career, as brief as it was, was spent here. And “Minor League Guy” left Cardinal Nation with great memories of his first game at Busch (where he hit a home run that literally seemed to tear open the sky and bring the rain), and his last (another home run, in the playoffs, no less), and all those games in between, where we saw and will always remember his infectious smile and joy in playing the game.

Rest in peace, Oscar. You will be missed.

Baseball Summer 2014

This was another fun “baseball summer” for the Markel family! It was also a little different for us this year, because we had quite a few free tickets to Cardinals games…18 of them, to be exact. Since a lot of these tickets had to be used in pairs, I took each child to his or her own game at Busch Stadium…well, his or her own, plus Chickadee, who everyone requested come along! We did make it to a few family games, as well, plus a few other fun baseball outings!

Our first game of the season was part of the Opening Series on April 9. It was also part of a field trip that we even took Moose out of school for …the Weather Bash at Busch. A morning of science followed by an afternoon of baseball…it doesn’t get much more fun than that!

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Busch Stadium, Infield Pavilion–Section 356, Row 9

On April 25 “Facebook Friday” finally came to our area. This is something the Cardinals have been doing for a few years now. Every Friday afternoon, Fredbird makes an appearance at a different location, and gives out tickets and beakings. I’d been wanting to get to a Facebook Friday for a while, but it seemed like they never came to the Metro East, until that Friday, when Fredbird showed up in Fairview Heights!

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On May 14, Moose and I had tickets for his special game (courtesy of Facebook Friday), and they were even tickets to a Cardinals-Cubs game. Unfortunately, this was as close as we got that day…the game was cancelled due to rain literally as we walked up to the gate. Moose was very disappointed.

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On May 18, Ryan and I took everyone to Busch Stadium to celebrate our 13th anniversary. It was a beautiful day, and we were lucky enough to get the same seats as we had at the game in April!

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Busch Stadium, Infield Pavilion–Section 356, Row 9

On June 19 I took the children to a Gateway Grizzlies game to celebrate Honor Roll night for Moose’s school. This is always a fun outing, and the Grizzlies had a great season this year, and also hosted the Frontier League All-Star game, so it was a fun time to visit their ballpark.

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GCS Ballpark–Section 121, Row H

Turkey had another season in parks & rec baseball, and this year, he got to play on four different fields over the course of the season, which was a new record for his team. It’s hard to believe he’s played for so many summers, and we’re not sure what next year will look like for him, but we enjoyed watching him play as a Pirate again!

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On June 27 we visited Fredbird at our second Facebook Friday of the year…and this time, he was even in our town! The children also finally each got a “Flat Freddy,” which we had tried to find at AT&T Stores earlier in the summer, but they were always out.

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On July 8 I used the tickets we got at the second Facebook Friday to take Moose back to Busch Stadium…and this time, we got to see a game!

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Busch Stadium, Left Field Porch–Section LP1, Row 10

On July 14, we took the children on a Busch Stadium Tour as part of summer school. They were very excited to see the parts of the stadium they don’t usually get to visit, especially the press box and the Cardinals dugout.

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That same day, we also went to the new Cardinals Museum, which is a beautiful, well-done tribute to Cardinals history.

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And we visited the new Cardinals Hall of Fame while we were there, which is located just outside the museum.

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On July 26, the children and I drove to Waterloo to see the Belleville Stags, a vintage baseball team, play a game. It was more fun that we could have imagined, and we are now huge fans of vintage baseball!

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On August 3 we went back to Busch Stadium to celebrate Fredbird’s Birthday as a family. This was Build-a-Bear day at the ballpark, which is the one game we try to get to every year. This was also the first time Chickadee had her own ticket to the game…she doesn’t need one to get in, yet, but to get her stuffed Clydesdale she required a ticket, and there was no way she was going to leave with her pony!

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Busch Stadium, Left Field Pavilion–Section 369, Row 14

On August 12 we took our baseball road trip of the summer…to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. It was a fascinating place to visit, and we all learned a lot!

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While we were in Louisville, we also visited the Louisville Slugger Walk of Fame. Of course, everyone’s favorite bat was the one belonging to Stan the Man!

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On August 15, we visited Qdoba for Facebook Friday #3 of the summer. It was at this point that I realized that we must be Fredbird groupies, but I don’t mind. Chickadee gets so excited every time she sees him that it’s totally worth it!

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On August 19, it was Ladybug’s turn to go to the game with me (and Chickadee). Once again, we used our Facebook Friday tickets, and had a view we don’t usually get since we’re usually in the upper deck!

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Busch Stadium, Lower Left Field Box–Section 179, Row 12

On August 20, I took just Chickadee to a game. It was a lot of fun to just sit with her and talk to her about the game…she is truly the most enthusiastic fan in our family! Unfortunately, we had to leave early, because a storm was rolling in, and I didn’t want to get stuck downtown with a toddler in bad weather.

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Busch Stadium, Infield Terrace–Section 448, Row 11

On August 30, the game that we had tried to attend earlier in the season was made up. This time, Turkey went with me, since Moose went to a different game in July. We had a great time watching the Cards play the Cubs, even if the Cubs did win that one.

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Busch Stadium, Right Field Box–Section 130, Row 25

September 2 was Bunny’s night at the ballpark. I swear I could see our house from our seats in the very last row of the very top deck of the stadium, but even though heights make me nervous (to put it mildly), the view was amazing. The workout I got from the walk down every single flight of stairs to the exit while carrying a sleepy toddler was just a bonus…

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Busch Stadium, Infield Terrace–Section 454, Row 11

On September 13 we went to the Cardinals Kids Club party for the first time. It was kind of a disappointment, and if people buy the Kids Club memberships just for that party, I’d think they wasted their money. But we still got to walk around the stadium, which is always fun.

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Even though the party was a disappointment, because we had Kids Club memberships, we were able to get 1/2 price tickets to the Cards-Rockies game that night, and it was a lot of fun! While we were at the ballpark, the children got to try out the pitching speed machine, which they really enjoyed. We also got to see a group of service members from Fort Leonard Wood present a giant American flag in center field, which is quite a sight to see. It was a nice way to end our season at Busch!

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Busch Stadium, Infield Terrace–Section 448, Row 11

For the rest of the season, we’ll be watching on TV, and looking forward to going back to Busch next year, whenever that game might be!

At the Cardinals Kids Club Party

Yesterday, we went to the Cardinals Kids Club Party. Honestly, it was kind of a bust…just not what we were expecting. But the children still had a good time, because they got to have a few special treats. And I got a cute picture of them together, so I guess it was still a win!

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At the Ballpark with Bunny

Tuesday night was the last of my special trips to Busch Stadium with a child this season. Bunny was the only one who hadn’t been to a game with me (and Chickadee!) yet, and she was very excited to see the Cards play the Pirates! We even got to watch batting practice for the first time in a long time, and while we didn’t get to see our team, it was nice to see the Pirates wearing their Strike out Cancer t-shirts.

Bunny was fascinated watching the grounds crew clean up from batting practice and prepare the field for the game. She must take after me!

We had a really good view of the Gateway Geyser from our seats:

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And a beautiful view of the shadows moving across the field.

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Let’s face it…when you’re sitting that high up, the view is always amazing!

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Of course we stopped to see Fredbird. Chickadee was rather put out, and I think it was because she had to share him with her sister!

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Bunny wanted to have her picture taken with Hello Kitty, just like her sisters did. The only difference? Bunny towered over the cut-out!

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Before we left, we said goodnight to Stan:

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We’ve used up our (18!!!) free tickets. We do have one game left to go to as a family, and then we’ll just have to wait until next spring to go back to Busch!