Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ballparks Tour: Busch Stadium, St. Louis

Last summer, during a trip to Kentucky, Jenn and I stopped in Cincinnati and St. Louis to see some ballgames--and of course photograph some ballparks in the meantime. Today, we'll look at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. You'll recognize the Gateway Arch in the photo above, taken at my room window in the hotel downtown.

From the top of the Arch, aerial views of Busch Stadium and the Old Courthouse (green dome, right) where the Dred Scott case was tried.

Walking up to the main gate. Look closely, just to the right of center, you can see the giant statue of "Stan The Man" Musial.

Along the plaza, the Cardinals have erected several smaller statues honoring minor deities of Cardinals legend.

Here is Ozzie Smith, my brother's favorite player.

View of the diamond from our original seats.

And the scoreboard. The sightlines were very good, but that August day the temps were in the upper 90's with a heat index above 105, and we were sitting in the open sun. When Casey Stengel visited the park as a coach at the All-Star Game on a similarly hot day in 1966, someone asked for his impression of the new park. Casey remarked, "It sure holds the heat well." That may be our most lasting memory of Busch Stadium, too. At that '66 All-Star Game, 135 people were treated at First Aid stations for heatstroke and other heat-related ailments. Jenn and I lasted only about 45 minutes in these seats, despite drinking water constantly, before we were forced into shade. Even then, we still had to leave in the 8th because Jenn felt like she had heatstroke and I had about reached my tolerance limit for the heat as well.

A standing-room view, back in the shade.

Batsculpture and Duff Man

Outer concourse leading to upper levels. I liked the clean white look and the circle-pattern detail. A nice '60s Modern touch that evokes the era of the stadium construction and the Gateway Arch, which was finished the year before Busch Stadium opened. It looks clean and simple like modern design, but classical at the same time.

Echoes of the Arch are also present in the canopy above the upper deck:

View from the upper deck, where we moved to get in the shade. Note how the people follow the shadeline, particularly to the right, as those seats are facing directly into the sun.

Scoreboard with the Arch looming above. Again, not many folks venturing beyond that shadeline in the upper deck. The flags to the right honor the 10 men whose numbers have been retired, including the numberless Rogers Hornsby and former owner August Busch, Jr. The pennants at the other end of the scoreboard commemorate the Cardinals' 9 World Series championships.

Stands structure.

Closing shot as we were leaving.

Aside from the heat and humidity, I really liked Busch Stadium. The sightlines all around the park were good. The people were enthusiastic and friendly. One kid was nice enough to share his squirt-bottle/fan with us while we were sitting in our original seats. The park had a wide variety of concessions, and the aisles were swarming with vendors--and not just selling Bud. Since it's been remodeled for the Cardinals, and as all the other "concrete donuts" of the '60s and '70s are gone, I'd even say Busch Stadium has taken on its own unique character and charm. In a way, it's too bad the Cards are ditching the place to move into yet another HOK "neo-retropark," the new cookie-cutter trend of our age. If the Cardinals had resolved to stay here, in another 15-20 years Busch Stadium could have become regarded as a classic of its kind.


At 8/23/2005 2:53 AM, Anonymous Kristi said...

I like the little arches around the top. I took some new kitty pictures for you, isn't Lucy the best?


At 8/23/2005 7:08 AM, Anonymous bjhess said...

Interesting. Makes me wish I took a spring trip to see that place.

We sat through two 105+ heat index afternoon's at the College World Series. I don't know if it was a good idea, but that's what we did.

At 8/23/2005 7:48 AM, Blogger SBG said...

Nice pics, FW.

At 8/23/2005 9:44 AM, Blogger Moss said...

Are the Kentucky pictures to follow? It's a little-known fact that Moss and Mrs. Moss courted and were married in KY. Mrs. Moss is the biggest UK Wildcats fan in the five-state area.

Nice pics, Mr. Wig. Moss has enjoyed his visits to Busch. Sad to see it replaced.

At 8/23/2005 11:25 AM, Blogger Twinsluvver said...

It occurs to me that every baseball fan needs a friend who is a big Cards fan. It's a great stadium and the team has some fantastic history.

At 8/23/2005 7:18 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Moss, if you want to see some horseblogging, I suppose that can be arranged for some weekend in the near future.

At 10/04/2005 6:40 PM, Blogger Annie said...

I stumbled across your blog looking for photos of Busch. Thanks for the rave reviews! (Although the Cards aren't "ditching" the stadium - the plumbing leaks and the concrete is cracking, so they didn't really have a choice.) But I liked all the pics, being a Cards fan and native St. Louisian myself.


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