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Welcome to St. Louis, Red Sox fans; wear red and have yourselves a wicked time

Old Busch stadium

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 25, 2013: Welcome to St. Louis, Red Sox fans.

Since this will be the first visit to Busch Stadium for many of you, here’s a brief guide to finding your way around baseball heaven.

* It's true. This is baseball heaven. The capital of Cardinal Nation. The center of the universe for "the best fans in baseball.” It’s been all over the Internet this postseason. You could look it up.

* About that 2004 World Series. Despite what you might have heard, St. Louis fans harbor no ill will even after watching the Red Sox dancing on the field following the four-game sweep -- and the breaking of the "Curse of the Bambino’’ and all that. Just so you know: The Cardinals tore that stadium down. Reduced the place to rubble and carted it away. The new stadium opened in 2006, and the Cards marked the occasion by beating the Detroit Tigers and adding another World Series pennant to the wall high above the scoreboard in right field. If you’re counting, there are 11 pennants up there now but plenty of room for No. 12.

* While here, please do your part for the local economy. Not that we’re keeping tabs, but the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission projects that each World Series game played here will generate about$7.9 million for the region. Fill up on those $8 hot dogs, washed down with $10 beers. Might we interest you in a Gateway Arch water globe or Gateway City travel mug? T-shirts? Souvenir spoons? St. Louis has the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list.

* About that slogan of yours: "Fear the Beard.” Sure. Why not? Been there. Done that. Have you seen reliever Brian Wilson of the Dodgers? Or the Cards’ Jason Motte lately?

Carl Imo, son of the local pizza staple's founders Ed and Margie, stands in front of the company's new headquarters downtown wearing a shirt with the logo: a chef holding a steaming hot pizza against the Arch and downtown skyline.
Credit Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio

* While in town, sample the fine cuisine. You’ve probably already heard that gooey butter cake and toasted raviolis are big here. Did you see the clip from "Jimmy Kimmel Live” where St. Louis favorite son Jon Hamm defends the much-maligned Imo’s Pizza, known for its smooth melt-in-your-mouth provel cheese instead of the usual stringy mozzarella? Third baseman David "Game 6” Freese hypes the pies on local TV commercials and sings along with the jingle: "The Square Beyond Compare.” The city also does barbecue well. Pappy’s Smokehouse happens to be a favorite with some of the Cards. Or, you might stop by the pre-game pep rally outside the stadium and visit with the nearby tailgaters. They’ll be grilling brats and pork (pronounced “park”) steaks. Heck, bring along a pot of those beans Boston is so famous for. Enjoy the Jello mold.

* Speaking of food, the politicians have been making their usual culinary wagers. If the Cards lose, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will send Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick some Cardinal Cream Soda from Fitz's, chocolates from Bissinger's and Italian goodies from the Missouri Baking Company. If the Red Sox lose, Patrick will send Nixon clam chowder, baked goods and seltzers. Bor-ing. In keeping with the spirit of this Series, the loser should have to stop shaving for 162 days. Of course, there’s always St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s approach: I don’t do wagers. Which could be for the best since Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is hoping the Red Sox will bring home the "World Series cup.”

* About 40,000 fans attending Games 3 and 4 will be given rally towels as they enter the stadium.  Cardinals fans will wave them madly, hoping to annoy the Red Sox on the field. Boston fans should not try to use them -- it’s an art -- but should, instead, post them immediately on eBay. However, do wear Boston Red Sox red. You’ll blend right in. Promise.

at the musial statue busch stadium
Credit Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon | 2011

* A word about stadium security: Allow plenty of time to get through the turnstiles. There will be inspections of purses and bags. As per MLB rules, small personal cameras are allowed but no professional-sized photography equipment. Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

* The pre-game ceremony for Game 3 will feature the Cardinal Hall of Famers – Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst – wearing Cardinal red blazers. Have your cameras at the ready to photograph the Budweiser Clydesdales as they circle the warning track. St. Louisans love the Clydesdales, the finest horsies on the planet.

* Finally, a tip of the cap to the Red Sox organization for that "B Strong” uniform patch the players are wearing in remembrance of the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy.

Credit Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon

The Redbirds are sporting a patch, as well: A number 6 in commemoration of Stan "The Man” Musial who died in January. (Stan played in the 1946 World Series against Boston's late great Ted Williams. The Cards won that one.) Expect a roar from the hometown crowd whenever a likeness of the beloved Hall of Famer appears on the scoreboard. During the video of Musial playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on a harmonica, you're welcome to sing along. With gusto. And do stop and take a photo at the Musial statue. You'll find it just outside the gates of baseball heaven.

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.