One fan's Top 10 musings on Opening Day
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 13, 2010 - Ten musings on Opening Day, in no particular order, from our perch in the cheap seats:
1. Centerfielder Colby Rasmus can tell his grandkids someday that he used to play baseball at the top of the Arch -- the one mowed into the surface of the playing field at Busch Stadium, that is. Nice job, grounds crew.
2. Stan the Man Musial is 89 and played his last game at the original Busch Stadium, nee Sportsman's Park, on Sept. 29, 1963. That was 47 years and two stadiums ago. Musial, who was named MVP three times and played in more than 20 All-Star games, spent his entire baseball career in St. Louis. While most of the fans in Monday's crowd -- even later-year baby boomers -- are too young to remember his playing days, they bestowed on him the day's loudest and longest applause, as befitting a living legend and city treasure.
3. At the pre-game ceremony, and before he delighted fans with a third-inning home run -- Fireworks! -- and four RBIs for the day, Albert Pujols warmly greeted Musial who was seated at the head of the red carpet. During spring training, Pujols again told Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bernie Miklasz that he wanted people to stop calling him El Hombre because he thought it disrespectful to Musial. Done.
4. Cool moment: Former manager Whitey Herzog making the ceremonial first pitch to Ozzie Smith, who helped vote Herzog into the Hall of Fame last winter. Smith also helped Herzog bring home the World Series championship in 1982, when he joined the team that year as shortstop. Herzog will be inducted at Cooperstown on July 25.
5. In eight shutout innings in Monday's 5-0 win over Houston, Adam Wainwright proved once again that he can not only pitch, but field and hit. That Gold Glove was deserved, but so was the Cy Young Award he didn't get last year.
6. The souvenir pennants said it all: Houston, You've Got a Problem. The Astros' season-opening winless streak now stands at 0-7.
7. Ernie Hayes celebrated his 40th year of playing the organ at Cardinals games with his slow-dance version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the Seventh Inning Stretch.
8. Fans responded to new hitting coach Mark McGwire with just the right amount of applause: Not too loud. Not too long. Courteous. Forgiving. Just what you'd expect from the best fans in baseball who, on the other hand, booed the Dodgers Manny Ramirez every time he stepped to the plate during Game Three of the division series last October. Ramirez was suspended last season for using banned drugs. Wonder how the LA fans will greet Big Mac.
9. They shoot; he scores: When the scoreboard posted a live shot of just-retired Blues star Keith Tkachuk, who was attending the game in Cardinals red, the fans responded with a warm and respectful ovation.
10. Note to the fan in the parking garage elevator who was boasting about meeting Curt Flood during the fourth inning when he went out for a smoke: Clearly, someone did sign your Cardinals T-shirt "Curt Flood 21," but it wasn't Flood. Sadly, the All-Star centerfielder, who challenged baseball's reserve clause, died of cancer in 1997.
This season Mary will be joined by features editor Donna Korando for Two Chicks Talkin' about the Birds, a look at baseball in St. Louis fromthe cheap seats by long-time fans.