Tuesday, August 4, 2009
"Pardon me for a moment while I stand and applaud."
In the Summer of 1966 the All-Star game came to St. Louis and Busch Stadium. There, my father and grandfather watched Tim McCarver score the winning run as the National League won 2-1 in extra innings.
It took a while, but I was able to go to the All-Star game with my dad on July 14th. To say I looked forward to it would be an understatement. I was looking forward to celebrating baseball, honoring baseball, honoring St. Louis, honoring the way St. Louis celebrates baseball etc. And I was also going to be in the presence of President Obama who was close enough in the broadcast booth I could see him smile and wave...literally.
First, we saw the players drive by with their families in the red carpet parade. Pretty much we got pictures of the back of their heads but great pics of their families. We then got inside for batting practice which was actually really exciting. We were close enough to a couple homers that I got beers spilled on my pants at 5pm. Eh, whats a ballgame without the smell of beer? (I dislike beer fyi)
We got settled into our seats (middle deck one section off home plate). We had our hot dogs and I had my scorecard knowing it would be the most challenging scorecard of my life. When the Clydesdales came out we were ready.
The staring lineups were fun. First, to show some respect for the AL. Then to boo the only Cub. But mostly for Albert and Yadi. The applause given for Albert was incredible and he has said it even surprised him. That's saying a lot I think.
The biggest surprise came from the President himself. His video about serving America was pretty special. The living Presidents (Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush Carter) all joined together to support those who serve our communities and are All-Stars among us. A worthy cause and I'm glad it happened. I point that out because it took 10 minutes and pretty much used up all the time.
The one regret for all St. Louis fans was the lack of focus on our great hall-of-famers. When they walked out together I knew the ball was dropped. They should have been brought out individually. Ozzie Smith. Bruce Sutter. Lou Brock. Bob Gibson. Red Schoendienst. These men and ball players are as much the reason St. Louis is a great baseball town as any. Parents want to tell stories of these guys and want their children to play ball and live life in their image.
And finally there had to be more for Stan Musial. From the seat all you saw was him being carted out to applause. We didn't know Joe Buck was listing his credentials on the broadcast. There could have been a video montage before he came out or have all the All Stars greet him on the cart a la Ted Williams. Anything. The only thing I can say is it is hard to be top bill when the President is there. I think Stan, Lou, Red, Bob, Bruce and Ozzie know how much they mean to us, regardless of that one night.
The lineups were great. I enjoyed watching Ichiro, Jeter, Halladay, Buehrle, Papelbon and Rivera from the AL. I enjoyed Howard, Pujols, Buehrle, Molina and Franklin get the home town treatment. 20 years from now I will get to tell about all the Hall of Famers I saw play in one night. That is special.
The game itself was....a little dry. Good defense. Bad defense. A triple. Actually, they best be glad this particular game was played in St. Louis. I'm not sure other fans could have sat through it and loved it like we did.
In the end, it truly was the celebration of St. Louis Baseball I envisioned. I left that game thinking how glad I am to be a fan of the greatest game in the greatest town.