St. Louis – Busch Stadium – Ballpark #10
Since we were able to sleep in a little bit this morning, I was glad that I could actually get some sleep. This was one of the very few mornings where we didn’t have to be up and out the door before the crack of dawn and I was going to take full advantage of it. Our drive to the game in St. Louis would only be about 4 hours today, so we decided to just take it easy and be on the road between 11:30am-12:00pm. This, to us, on this trip especially, was like being incredibly lazy. However, we both knew that we would be paying for it tonight after the game at Busch Stadium as we would have to leave right away for our drive to Baltimore. That drive, at best, would be about 14 hours and we would lose an hour as well as we went from Central to Eastern Standard Time. That drive was going to be brutal and we both knew it. It was the drive that we had in the back of our minds all along. We both knew what would be riding on the drive, but we never really spoke of it. Again I say, thankfully this morning we were able to sleep in a little bit… we were going to need it!
The drive down to St. Louis was pretty routine. We hit a couple areas of light rain, but was nothing to worry about and the closer we got to the city, the more the clouds seemed to be parting. This was a good thing.
As we got to town, just before 4pm, I wanted to hit up a place just up the street from the ballpark that I had last been to in 2006 and was still dreaming about. It is no surprise to anyone that has ever read anything that I have written before that I am a bit of a foodie. I love to check out places that I have seen on either “Diners, Drive Ins & Dives” or “Man vs Food”. I also love to talk to locals and see what places they might suggest that aren’t so well known with the tourists and give them a try. On my last trip through I got to spend 3 nights here and one of the places I was told to check out was called “Caleco’s”. It’s a cool little bar a few blocks from Busch Stadium one way and the St. Louis Arch another way. Its right on the corner of Broadway & Chestnut and is the perfect place to grab a pregame bite & brew. I knew it wouldn’t take much to convince Chuck into going there as it was a quick walk to the ballpark if anything were to delay us, though I honestly didn’t see that happening. As we walked in there couldn’t have been more than 4 people sitting in the bar area, which was great for us. We grabbed a seat at the counter, ordered up a couple drinks (me my usual beer, Chuck his usual orange juice) and we eventually ordered food. Chuck stuck with the tamer french fries, I went with what I had been craving for so long, the Blue Cheese Chips! They are fresh sliced potatoes, fried to perfection, drizzled with a blue cheese sauce, on a plate surrounding a small bowl of blue cheese dipping sauce. O-M-G!! I have tried something similar to this in several places around the country since I first had these, but nothing has even come close to the original. I can’t tell you what they do, because I don’t know, but Caleco’s Blue Cheese Chips are amazing!!
As we sat there eating I could see Chuck nervously watching the weather outside. The winds had picked up, quite a bit, and we even saw a couple different spots of a light shower. We had to get this game in. We were already in St. Louis, just a few blocks from the ballpark, we were there waiting. From where we parked our car the red brick of Busch Stadium was just on the horizon. It couldn’t rain now. It just couldn’t happen. If it did, it meant that we would have to make this game up tomorrow and the best Chuck could do is TIE his previous record of all 30 MLB ballparks in 24 days. After our amazing adrenaline filled drive from O’Hare airport to U.S. Cellular Field yesterday, it just simply couldn’t go down this way, could it? I tried not to think about it but I found myself looking at the weather maps on my iPhone. I just needed to see what they were forecasting for us. As I did, Chuck went outside to take a look at the skies around us. He spent about 10 minutes or so out there on his second trip outside. I don’t know what he was thinking. I’m not really even sure I wanted to know what he was thinking. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to be this close to something. This close to something so amazing. All the planning. All the traveling. Everything you did that got you to this moment… only to see rain headed our way. I don’t believe I ever want to know what that feels like. I know what it felt like for me at that moment. I am just on an all 30 MLB ballpark tour, doing it in 1 season. Not trying to complete it in 23 days. If we missed St. Louis tonight and had to make it up tomorrow, that would push my Baltimore game from tomorrow to May 12th, which means I would have to (by myself) drive from Houston to Dallas to Baltimore in consecutive days. That was something I did not want to do… so it couldn’t rain on us now. It couldn’t go down this way.
After we finished our food, we headed up the road a couple blocks and parked in the lot directly across the street from the Center Field gate to Busch Stadium. The only thing that stood between us and ballpark #29 for Chuck and #10 for me, was 2 sidewalks and Clark Street. We sat there in the car watching the clouds quickly rolling by. It was about 6:15pm when we noticed the skies starting to get lighter and lighter. This brought a smile to both our faces and the energy came back to Chuck. He never fully lost it, but you could tell he was down a bit. As for me, I didn’t know it yet, but I was starting to get sick…
We got ready and walked across the street and as we did, with each step I started feeling worse and worse. I had no idea what the issue was, but I just felt really blah! I found myself a bench to sit on for a couple minutes, told Chuck to look around and I would be good to go soon. I sat there a bit, adjusted the velcro strap on my leg brace and this is when I realized that I was incredibly swollen! I do not recall, ever, being as swollen as I was at this point in time. This was even worse than back in Detroit after my drive in from Minneapolis. This was bad. However, what could I do about it right now? The only way to relieve this problem was to put my feet up and rest, yet I couldn’t do that anytime soon. No, I was about to spend the next 3+ hours walking around and sitting at the ballpark. By the time Chuck walked over to me and asked me if I was ok, I put a smile on my face and told him, “Yeah, let’s go” and into the park we went.
As per usual, we did our walking around before the game started, took our pictures of us being there, pictures of the scoreboard and then we were headed to our seats. This is what we always did, but this time, there was a problem… I was feeling worse, much worse. After standing there watching first pitch, and a couple more, I told Chuck I would meet him at the seats, that I was going to go get me an ice cold water, or maybe a Gatorade if I could. As I walked back out into the concourse, all I could think about was finding a place to sit down. I looked and looked but could find no such place, so I headed into the men’s room and directly into a stall I went. My heart was racing, my face felt like it was on fire and my legs were the size of tree trunks and were hurting with each step I was taking. Something was wrong, but I didn’t know what, so I called my wife to talk to her. I knew me, the more I thought about it, the worse it would get. I needed her to talk some sense into me and calm me down. To let me know I had nothing to worry about and that I would be ok… however, she wasn’t answering her phone. I sat there for a while waiting for her to call me back. I knew it was her day off, but I didn’t know what she was doing exactly. Eventually I had to go get something to drink. I thought that even though I was swollen, maybe I was becoming dehydrated. I wasn’t drinking the amount of water than I normally did, so maybe this was the problem. I eventually found a stand selling both water & Powerade, so I grabbed one of each and found myself a place to stand and watch the game while drinking them down.
It was a few innings into the game before my wife called me back and I was able to tell her what was going on. She really didn’t know what to tell me either, except for what I already knew, that being swollen like I was was NOT a good thing. What I eventually did was wait until it was an official game and with a text to Chuck and my hands full once again with Powerade, I headed back across the street to the car to kick back and put my feet up on the dash in hopes of being able to relieve some of the pain in them. In the hour or so that I was there, I had to walk up to the port-a-potty at least 6 times! Between taking a double dose of my water pills and getting my feet up, I was getting the fluid off of me. The problem is that the game would soon be over and we would have to hit the road again, but I was going to get as much of it off me as I could and go from there.
By the time the game was over and Chuck got out to the car, I was feeling a little bit better, thankfully. However, I had no desire to drive. I was in need of some sleep. I don’t know, and probably don’t want to know, how many extra pounds of fluid I have been carrying around on me today, especially before I went back to the car tonight, but between it and my heart racing (and what we could only assume was my blood pressure being up sky high), I was a tired puppy! I was glad to hear Chuck say that he would lead off and drive as far as he could so I could hopefully get some sleep. That would help, I knew it would…
As for the game, the Brewers jumped on the Cardinals Westbrook for a run in the top of the 1st, but come the home 1/2 of the 2nd, tied it up and took the lead at 2-1. In the 3rd inning it just got out of hand as St. Louis sent 12 men to the plate, 7 of them getting hits, and scoring 8 runs for a 10-1 lead. By the time this one ended, the Cardinals had 13 runs on 15 hits, but not a single home run in the bunch. They did manage 2 doubles (Carpenter & Molina) and 1 triple (Schumaker) though.
The biggest things I will take away from my game in St. Louis at Busch Stadium are: 1) Busch Stadium is beautiful. It didn’t take me coming here tonight to know that though. No, you get that as soon as you make your first walk up to the ballpark. The design of the park is what you will first see. The steel and red brick are awesome. I know they are pretty much overused around the major leagues, but the truth is that here in St. Louis, they do something special with it. Their entry ways are very cool as well, so inviting. 2) The fans in St. Louis might just be the best of any of the 30 Major League cities. Again, this is something that I have known from previous games, but it is true. Their passion for not only their hometown Cardinals, but the game of baseball I believe is unmatched anywhere. I have been to several games in St. Louis, at new & old Busch alike, in both good years and not so good years, yet the fans are always there. Always cheering on their Red Birds. Always so friendly. There is something special about going to a game in St. Louis (especially vs the Cubs), and this time through was no different. 3) Another thing I love about going to games in St. Louis is how easy it is to get there and how easy it is to get back on the Interstate after a game. I know this really has nothing to do, directly, with the ballpark, but it’s an overall plus in my opinion.
Visitors 7, Home 3