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This time I walked into the big league ballpark on my own

Aug 13, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

The last time I watched the St. Louis Cardinals play in Busch Stadium, my dad carried me in on his back.

This time I walked.

Back in 1971, in the days of Gibson, Brock, Simmons and Torre, in the original Busch, a little 9-year-old kid saw his first big league game.

Just freed days before from the summer bummer plaster cast that had steadied my healing broken ankle, with scorecard in hand, we realized that stadium seats wouldn't have room for the crutches that were helping me get back my ground game.

But Dad was more than willing to let me jump on for a ride to see his, and my, favorite Cardinals.

Dad became a Cardinals fan while stationed in the Air Force at Scott Field in Belleville, Ill. The family story was that after donating blood, the troops were rewarded with either a steak dinner or Cardinals tickets. The push-pull of my mom wanting the dinner and dad wanting to go catch a game was always won by dad in the summer (plenty of steak dinners during the off-season) and trips to old Sportsman's Park were a summer respite for my parents.

So when I had a chance to cash in on a birthday gift this year and choose to watch a game in any Major League park, it was an easy choice.

It was back to Busch Stadium. The trip didn't disappoint.

The family/baseball trip started in Colorado, zipped us by air to Fargo, where we caught some minor league Fargo-Morehead Redhawks baseball, and then lazily guided us via train to St. Louis.

Our morning jaunt to the beautiful St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park confirmed what I had suspected. There were Cardinals shirts, hats and even pants and shoes everywhere. Kids, moms and great-grandparents were all, it seemed, wearing Cardinal red.

I was among friends.

Gary Sedberry greeted us on the pavilion outside the third baseline Saturday evening. He's been a fixture at Busch Stadium (both the old and the new) for the last 22 years, selling scorecards from his cozy stand.

When I told him that I had read about him while doing research for our trip, he was stunned and when I volunteered to send him the blog post where I caught his story, I understood why.

"I don't have a computer," he said, "Can you mail it to me?"

With pleasure. I'll mail him this column, too.

Inside the stadium the view takes your breath away. The famous Gateway Arch sits just to the left of the round Millennium Hotel with its rotating top-floor restaurant. The huge Budweiser video scoreboard is just to the right of the center field fence and sits above the list of 12 retired Cardinals numbers.

And there were the beer men, including The King.

"Beer so cold, it will hurt your face," he said. "Hey guys, cold beer!" he added a hundred times. If you closed your eyes, you would swear your were hearing Wendell Middlebrooks, the famous beer guy in the Miller Hi Life commercials.

And there was, of course, baseball.

The Cardinals have been "breaking bad," according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz, and the their lead evaporated in the eighth inning Saturday to the rival Chicago Cubs despite two home runs from former Colorado Rockies star Matt Holliday.

Two sections over was my longtime friend and big-time Cardinals fan David Peck. We only discovered that Monday evening after both of us had returned to Wyoming.

The Cardinals will try to right the ship in an important home series that starts tonight against the division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates.

I wish I were there, at Busch Stadium.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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