Thursday, August 25, 2011

SoSG Road Trip: St. Louis (Part 3: Inside Busch Stadium, Before Everyone Else)

By this time, having hung out for about a half-hour on the field, we were advised by Jim Pool (our Cardinals staff friend) that the teams wouldn't start coming out for batting practice for another 30 minutes. So we decided to do a lap around Busch Stadium now, instead of just waiting there.

The aisle-seat detail was pretty cool.

Back into the tunnels we went, emerging behind third base in the field level concourse. The concourse was kind of dark, but that's probably because they hadn't turned on all the lights for the crowd just yet.

Build Your Own Fredbird workshop was closed.

I couldn't help myself; I had to go up to the fence and take pictures of the fans waiting to get into Busch Stadium.

This included taking a picture of a Dodgers fan that we met sitting on a park bench as we walked to Busch Stadium. He was cracking up to find us inside the Stadium already, and he waved to us.

The dark, abandoned concourse. Kind of eerie.

More Cardinals fans waiting on the outside. Wheee! We're in already!

Back on the concourse behind right-center field, the Cardinals' world championship titles are noted.

The view from center field.

Like the Royals, the Cardinals also have some fun areas for the kids in the back of the stadium. When we got back to this area, SoSG AC vaulted up a staircase to see what was on the next level, but I got stopped by a Cardinals employee asking if I needed help (really, she was asking what the heck I was doing back here). I showed her my media pass, and told her we were just taking a tour around the ballpark; she introduced herself as Rose and she said that this area was the part of the park that she managed, so she was happy to show us around. Sweet!

There's a lot of interactive activities back here, including a patio area for dining and a room with videogame consoles. She says it attracts a lot of families. Unfortunately, we wouldn't get much of a chance to walk around the stadium once the game began, so this was the only chance we had to see the area, unoccupied.

The kids' area pitching cage.

A little playground area for the little ones. Rose told me that there was a woman who comes here every game and brings her kids or grandkids, sits down in a corner and reads a book. "Why she has season tickets in the first place is a little bizarre," Rose said.

And here's Rose. Thanks for our mini-tour!

A golfcart even celebrates the 2006 title.

More locked out Cardinals fans. Okay, at this point I'm just being mean. Ha ha!

We kept walking, now turning to walk down the first base line, and guess what I saw:

Dammit! Fast beer, and I wasn't here to see it pour in person!

Luckily, there's a video of how the bottom-pouring, magnet-operated machine works:

Thank god for YouTube.

Onward we walked, until we found this scoreboard; it took a second before we realized that this was the old Busch Stadium scoreboard, which must have been frozen in time after the final game of the 2005 season. First is the American League:

Seven AL games, frozen in time.

Here's the NL scoreboard. For all eternity, we will be losing to the Padres in the fifth inning (in fact, we lost that game 3-1, and that year, the Padres went to the playoffs with an 82-80 record).

Our lap completed, we went back down to the field to see the players.

The red brick and inlaid detail from right behind home plate.

So the players hadn't really arrived yet, but first up was the Psycho himself, Steve Lyons. He stopped to wave hello:

Lyons, a brave man for wearing a tie in this heat.

The Cardinals employees congregated behind the plate, now numbering four people (including Jim Pool), asked me who that was. When I told him it was Lyons, one of the guys said, "Oh yeah, isn't that the guy who dropped his pants on the baseball field?" Years later, Lyons' legacy lives on.

Next to pass was Eric Collins, who was really, really fun with which to talk. We said hello to him and introduced him when he first passed by, but later on he came back to talk with us for around 10 minutes, and it was great.

He thought the name of our blog was hilarious. And then when I asked him about calling the games and what it was like this season (his third), the conversation went something like this:

Collins: Well you know, I only call ~40 games a year, but the Dodgers' record in those games isn't all that great.

Sax: Oh yeah, we know. In fact, in your first year, we called it "the Collins Curse."

Collins: Oh, I know.

Sax: (pause) Ah, you do?

Collins: (laughs) Yes.

Well, that was uncomfortable. But Collins laughed at it, and it was cool. I really appreciate the time he spent just to shoot the bull and make us feel at home (while on the road).

Behind home plate, pre-game.

And then, the players started coming out. First out was Josh Lindblom, who is a big guy.

Lindblom in the lead.

Lindblom started warming up with Clayton Kershaw (who also came over to talk with us and was totally polite and very welcoming, I might add. I didn't know if it was even possible to be even more of a Kershaw fan than I already was, but he made me even more fanatical and supportive).

Steve Lyons made a beeline over there too, as the players started to come out.

By this time, three kids had come down (they must have started letting fans in) and were asking the Dodgers for autographs. These kids were smart, armed with bats, balls, baseball cards, pictures, the whole nine.

Justin Sellers signs for some fans.

Javy Guerra re-emerges, while Jamey Carroll tries to describe how Busch Stadium can be a trap.

Dodgers start their throwing warmup drills.

Javy Guerra totally started playing to SoSG AC and me, which was funny.

"Check out all the ink on Justin!"

Dioner Navarro, right before the boom was lowered.

At this point, SoSG AC and I are giddy to be five feet from the Dodger players and on the field as they warmed up, joshed around, interacted with us a bit, and had fun. And then, suddenly, Jon Chapper of the Dodgers' PR department motioned us over toward him, waaaaay past where Jim Pool's sectioned off area was set.

We were going into the Busch Stadium dugout, to talk with Don Mattingly.

Stay tuned!

Earlier: Part 0, Quick Thoughts From The Cardinals Press Box; Part 1, Getting to St. Louis; Part 2, Press Pass Access Onto The Field

7 comments:

Dusty Baker said...

I'm tuned!

Josh S. said...

Glad Collins has a good sense of humor. Still awkward that he knows about the curse, though.

This has become quite the enviable trip, gents.

Jason said...

Did you even try depressing the beer dispenser to see if it was hooked up?

If not, I am sorely disappointed.

Fred's Brim said...

*moves towards edge of seat*
Saxy, you tease!

Fred's Brim said...

Does any other site refer to the Collins Curse? TBLA or Dodger Thoughts? Or does that mean he's a reader of SOSG?

Steve Sax said...

@Jason: SoSG AC can vouch for me. I took out a bag of magnets and placed them on the magic base, but no beer came out

QuadSevens said...

They have one of those bottom's up beer fillers at Angel Stadium. I watched a few beers get filled there and it was really cool!