All eyes are on St. Louis this week as America tunes in to watch the Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers for the National League pennant. But there’s more to the Cardinal experience than the winning team; the retro ballpark in the shadow of the Gateway Arch is also worth a visit. David DeVoss explores the special features of St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.
In the days before cable and satellites brought baseball into American homes, the Cardinals were the rulers of radio. From the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains down through North Texas and across to the Gulf, generations grew up listening to Harry Carey describe the exploits of Red Schiendist, Ken Boyer and Stan Musial on KMOX radio. These players are long retired, but the Cardinal fan base continues to grow.
The main ritual for Cardinal fans is the annual pilgrimage to Busch Stadium to pay homage to Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter. The new $365 million stadium, which opened last year in the heart of St. Louis, is a wonderful place to watch a game and become a part of the city’s summer sports scene.
The entertainment starts an hour before the game as thousands of people dressed in red file into the brick-clad stadium. St. Louisians call it the “Red Sea on the Mississippi” and the best place to photograph the phenomenon is from the pedestrian bridge across Stadium Way that looks down on the Cardinal Walk of Fame and the bronze statue of Stan Musial.
The party really begins inside where beneath a center field sign reading “Welcome to Baseball Heaven” stand picnic tables, a playground and virtual reality batting cages where Little Leaguers can take some swings against virtual major league pitching.