The Wienermobile

When we saw the Wienermobile earlier this month, it wasn’t the first time we spotted it in the STL area. But it was the first time we “officially” saw it, and the children even got whistles (which, in retrospect, may not have been the best idea)!

Based on the license plate, this is a different vehicle than the one we saw two years ago…I love seeing all the clever ways they identify them!

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!

Gateway Grizzlies–2014

On Thursday, we went to the Gateway Grizzlies game as part of MVP night for Moose’s school. As always when watching the Grizzlies play, you don’t go there to see high quality baseball (they lost 11-2), but you never know what you’ll see!

The best part for the children, other than the giant playground, is always seeing Izzy, the Grizzlies mascot.

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It’s always fun to go spend some time at GCS Ballpark!

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Baseball Summer 2013

This was another busy summer of baseball games! I can honestly say that we watched baseball in pretty much all kinds of weather, from many different vantage points, and in way more ballparks than I would have imagined at the beginning of the season. The Cards won six of the nine games we saw them play, which is a pretty good percentage for us, and the children enjoyed seeing Fredbird bring the Cardinals flag out at the end of the game so many times!

The first game we went to was “Stan Musial Harmonica Night” in April. We had to wear winter jackets to the game, which was definitely a new experience! The game was filled with wonderful, loving, tributes to Stan, and it was an honor to be there.

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Busch Stadium, Left Field Pavilion–Section 371

In May, to celebrate Moose’s first week of summer vacation, we traveled across the state to see the Cards play the Royals in Kansas City during the I-70 series. Our very first baseball road trip…how fun!

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Kauffman Stadium, Hyvee Infield–Section 411, Row GG

Turkey played in his fourth season of parks and rec baseball this summer, and he got to play on two different fields. One of them had a scoreboard and lights, which was very cool.

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The other was at Moose’s school, which was also very nice, even though it doesn’t have lights.

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In June, Ryan and I went with a friend to Beer Stein Night, which was also the game that brought Lance Berkman to town. Sadly, we didn’t get to see him play, but we did see him being his normally awesome self, and signing autographs for people.

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Busch Stadium, Infield Terrace–Section 450, Row 9

We went back to the see the Gateway Grizzlies play again this year, as part of Honor Roll Night for Moose’s school. You definitely don’t go to see good baseball, but it’s still a lot of fun! We spent a good portion of this game getting drizzled on, and it was surprisingly chilly.

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GCS Ballpark–Section 121, Row J

At the end of July, we sat on the Coca-Cola rooftop deck (an all-inclusive area), for the first time. We enjoyed the buffet, and the extra space for walking around with Chickadee!

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Busch Stadium, Coca-Cola Deck–Section CCD, Row C

At the beginning of August, Bunny and I had tickets to the Champions Club (another all-inclusive area), for Star Wars night, the first of two theme ticket events I attended, which was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime baseball experience!

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Busch Stadium, UMB Champions Club–Section CH6, Row C

A little later in August, we drove out to Springfield, MO, to see the Cardinals Double-A team, the Springfield Cardinals, also known as the “Baby Birds,” play. Two baseball road trips in one summer!

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Hammons Field, Diamond Box–Section I, Row 9

The one game we try to go to every year is Build a Bear day. This year, they were giving away a stuffed Fredbird, as part of Fredbird’s birthday bash, so of course we had to be there!

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Busch Stadium, Right Field Pavilion–Section 328, Row 5

On September 10, I kicked off “baseball week” in our house when I went to the Cardinals Social Media Night by myself. My ticket was on the Left Field Porch, which was a new place for me. This was one of the hottest days of the summer, but I still managed to have a good time. This was only the first of three games we went to that week, though!

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Busch Stadium, Left Field Porch–Section LP3, Row 4

The following day, we all went back to Busch Stadium to see the Cards win again. For the last few summers, we’ve gotten seats in the Redbird Club with Ryan’s parents. Every year, I look forward to getting a cupcake while I’m there…yum!

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Busch Stadium, Infield Redbird Club–Section 244, Row 1

We thought we were done with baseball for the year after the Redbird Club game, and then Moose’s school sent home a letter about an opportunity to buy tickets for a school fundraiser night. It’s the first time they’ve ever convinced us to participate in a fundraiser (other than buying Moose a new t-shirt every other year), but it was the Cardinals, so how could we say no?!? We even got to enjoy field level seats at this game, which is a rare treat for us! We also saw one of the strangest endings to a game ever…a walk-off victory on a passed ball!

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Busch Stadium, Right Field Box–Section 130, Row 23

It seems like we have big “baseball summers” every other year, so I’m assuming next year will be lighter in the games attended department. We are hoping to make it to Memphis to see the Redbirds play, and I’m personally hoping to sit in the bleachers at Busch Stadium (the one area we’ve never been in, other than the elusive “green seats”), but other than that, I don’t have a lot in the way of expectations for next year. We’ll just have to see what the schedule (and ticket prices!), holds for us!

Baseball Summer

2011 was the “Summer of Baseball” in the Markel household. Never in my life have I been to so many Major League Baseball games in one summer, not to mention all of Turkey’s games, and the one Gateway Grizzlies game we went to. To chronicle this “Baseball Summer,” here are pictures with views from all of the different seats we had!

The first game we went to was “Kids Opening Day” on Saturday, April 2, which occurred two days after actual Opening Day. The seats were just OK, but the tickets were cheap, and each of the children received a Matt Holliday baseball bat, and a voucher for a free ticket to a future game. Too bad the Cardinals lost.

Busch Stadium, Left Field Pavilion–Section 368, Row 6

Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday, May 7, was our second game of the year. Other than the Commissioner’s Box, these were my favorite seats we had. They were directly to the left of the press box, so naturally, the view was amazing, and even though we were up pretty high, it didn’t feel like it. (The only thing that would have made the game more enjoyable would have been the Cardinals actually beating the Brewers.) It was also free hat day for the adults–I ended up stealing Ryan’s hat because I liked it better than the women’s version!

Busch Stadium, Infield Terrace–Section 453, Row 1

The year’s third game was “Social Media Night” on Tuesday, May 17. This was our “Anniversary Eve” celebration, and one of two games that Ryan and I went to sans children, but we really went because I wanted to get the free “Tweet Me in St. Louis” t-shirts that were part of our tickets. The seats were pretty close to the field, but way out in left field…not a section I had been in before. It was kind of a strange place to watch a game from, because it felt like the seats were oriented the wrong direction, but the game itself was amazing–very exciting, and the Cardinals won right at the end!

Busch Stadium, Lower Left Field Box–Section 169, Row 16

Although it wasn’t a game, going on a Busch Stadium tour with Ryan the following afternoon also counts as part of “Baseball Summer.” We got to go in some exclusive areas of the ballpark, including the Cardinals dugout, the press box, and the Cardinals Club. We even saw some of the Astros players as they were on their way to the visitors’ clubhouse, (they were very polite), and some Cardinals warming up, jogging around the warning track.

The field, as seen from Mike Shannon’s point-of-view in the press box!

The most amazing seats of the season were in the Commissioner’s Box for our tenth wedding anniversary on Wednesday, May 18. An incredible experience, with a great view of the field, (and the Cards dugout). And the Redbirds were kind enough to win the game for us!

Busch Stadium, Commissioner’s Box–Row C

We went to our first Gateway Grizzlies game for “Honor Roll Night,” on Monday, June 13, to celebrate Moose’s achievements in school, (we were supposed to go back for a second game later in the season, but it was unbearably hot…maybe next year!). The ballpark is so small, I’m pretty sure there are no bad seats, and the ones we were in were certainly no exception. We had a great view of all of the action, from the game itself, to the between-inning antics on the field. The Grizzlies lost, but we didn’t really care since we’re not big Frontier League fans…it was just fun!

GCS Ballpark, Field Reserve Box Seats–Section 119, Row…6, maybe?

Here’s the view from the Upper Field at the park where Turkey played all of his games this summer, (and last year’s T-Ball games, as well). Technically, there were no seats, but this is what it looked like from where we stood and watched half of his games in June and July.

The other half of Turkey’s ball games were played on the Lower Field of the park. I like this field better, if only because it’s situated on more level terrain…the outfield of the Upper Field is completely inexplicable! Even though they don’t technically keep score, I’m happy to report that Turkey’s team had a winning season!

The Wednesday, June 22, Cardinals game was part of Marine Week in St. Louis. Going to this game was a complete spur-of-the-moment decision, and I’m so glad we went! We got to hear the Marine Band play, and saw them present the colors. There was also a Harrier jet flyover and a flag line on the field. We had good seats for this game, and really got to appreciate the shadows on the field as the evening went on! It’s a good thing there was so much to see at the ballpark, though, because it was another loss for the Redbirds!

Busch Stadium, Infield Terrace–Section 447, Row 6

We also had the chance to get seats on Thursday, July 28, in the Redbird Club at Busch Stadium. This was another really fun experience, (and the baby’s first ballgame, albeit in utero!), although the day we were there was so hot, it was hard to enjoy the game. (That, and Lance Berkman was injured and didn’t play.) I don’t think that any of us really even cared that the Cards dropped the game to the Astros because we were so worn out from the heat! I’d love to go back someday when the weather is a little more cooperative, so I can really enjoy it.

Busch Stadium, Infield Redbird Club–Section 244, Row 1

Another first was seeing a game from a party suite at the stadium on Tuesday, August 9, with Ryan’s co-workers. I spent most of the game inside the suite, although there was also outdoor seating. Either way, the view was great, even if the Cards did lose.

Busch Stadium, Party Suite–Section 308

The last game we went to this year was on Sunday, August 14. It was a nice way to bookend our “Baseball Summer”–there was another giveaway for the children, this time “Stan the Man” Build-A-Bears, which have proven to be very popular around here still. We had, unfortunately, what I considered to be the worst seats of the season–we were literally in the last row of seats on the uppermost deck in the outfield. It was still a fun time, though, and the Cards managed to win that one.

Busch Stadium, Right Field Terrace–Section 432, Row 11

So, that was our “Baseball Summer.” We only saw three Cardinal wins, compared to five losses, but we still had a great time! We attended games on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but no Monday or Friday games for some reason, (baseball always involves statistics, right?). We sat everywhere from practically the front row, (the Commissioner’s Box), to literally the last row. We had tickets to exclusive areas of the Stadium, as well as tickets for the cheap seats. We sat behind home plate, along the first base line, and in the outfield.

I doubt we’ll get to go to so many games in one summer again–things just really worked out perfectly this year. It was great to share baseball with the children this way, and create some great family memories. I’m thankful that baseball here in St. Louis is still fairly affordable for families, (many of the tickets we got were only $5 each, and you can bring food and beverages into the ballpark), so that we could see so many games from so many different areas of the ballpark this year!

Gateway Grizzlies

On Monday, we went to a Gateway Grizzlies game. It was honor roll night, and Moose’s teacher had awarded him two tickets, (even though Early Childhood doesn’t actually have an honor roll), so we ordered some extras, and went to the ballpark. Grandpa and Grandma even got to come, making it a really special night.

I’d never been to a Grizzlies game before. Actually, I’ve never been to any minor league game before. Now, technically, the Grizzlies aren’t a “minor league” team, because they’re not affiliated with Major League Baseball–they’re a part of the Frontier League. I guess the best way to describe them would be as a club team–they’re professionals, but not what you usually think of when you think professional baseball players. But everything I’ve ever heard about minor league games fit our Grizzlies experience, so I’m equating the two.

W got to see the Grizzlies play the Normal CornBelters (no, I didn’t make that up!). It was a very fun experience. The park is small, and only seats about 6,000, so no matter where you sit, you’re close to the action. We had a good view of the game, and all of the other action, especially the opposition’s bullpen. And by bullpen, I mean players sitting directly in front of the stands, and warming up on the warning track.

In between innings, there were all kinds of ridiculous contests that were very fun to watch. The groundskeeper’s children racing around in human-sized hamster balls. Racing eyeballs. “Fights” involving giant boxing gloves. It was all hilarious, and to be perfectly honest, more fun than watching the actual game. Sorry Grizzlies. But the entertainment was really what made the game special.

The food at the park was also an experience. The Grizzlies are known for what they call “Baseball’s Best Burger.” Said burger is served not on a bun, but in a Krispy Kreme donut. I don’t care what they say, it’s gross–order at your own peril. On the other hand, they had funnel cake fries–delicious! They also serve brisket nachos (among other varieties), which we did not get to try, but I’m hoping to sample on our next visit. And the concessions are way cheaper than those at Busch Stadium, which almost makes up for the fact that you can’t bring any outside food into the ballpark.

Grizzlies games are also very child-friendly. The mascot, Izzy the Grizzlie, (you read that right), is constantly wandering the stands, and stops to pose with any child, (or more likely parent), who wants a photo. I should know–we took a lot of them! There’s a children’s play area in one corner of the ballpark, complete with batting cage, climbing equipment, and slides. There’s also a “kid’s parade” between innings, during which the children at the game are encouraged to parade around the park with Izzy, while chanting “Let’s Go Grizzlies!” Turkey and Bunny loved that!

Walking around the park with Moose before the game, I had the chance to look at all of the team logos for the Frontier League. This was one of my favorite parts of the night. As I wasn’t really familiar with the league, you can imagine how familiar I was with the teams in the league–in other words, not at all. In addition to the CornBelters, there are also Beach Bums, ThunderBolts, and Otters. My favorite, however, was the Joliet Slammers. I never would have gotten the joke if I hadn’t seen the logo–the name to me just implied grand slams. But, no, it’s a reference to the Joliet Correctional Center. Too funny!

It was a great night. We’re hoping to get to go back there later this season–it’s a fun, relatively inexpensive way to spend an evening as a family!