UCB Weekend: Saturday

Just a week ago, my Dad and I were getting back from a weekend in St. Louis. If you follow the United Cardinal Bloggers at all, you know that it was the UCB Weekend (#ucbweekend). The St. Louis Cardinals, in all of their graciousness, see it fit to invite us to a game on them and give us some facetime by way of a Q&A session with Bill DeWitt III, the team’s President, and John Mozeliak, the team’s General Manager.

Last year, I was unable to go. This year, thanks to my wonderful wife who was willing to forgo a weekend at the beach we’d been discussing, I was able to. I decided that I wanted to invite my Dad along with me because it was something that he would completely appreciate and enjoy.

We planned our trip to arrive on Saturday morning and leave on Monday morning. After talking about it, we decided to skip the UCB dinner on the Saturday night at the former Pujols5, and get tickets to the game instead. After all, neither of us had been in St. Louis since 2005 as we made the trip to catch the final season in the old Busch Stadium. 

As I posted about making the trip down to St. Louis for the weekend on CardsClubhouse, one of the other longtime members private messaged me and was basically like, “Hey, I work for the Cardinals. If we can connect, I can give you a tour of the stadium before the game and get you on the field during batting practice.” And connect we did. I mean, I’m not stupid.

We arrived without a hitch on Saturday morning with a quick MetroLink ride to the stadium. We stayed at the Millennium, which is a fairly average hotel experience, but has a great location as it is just a block away from Busch Stadium.

Dad and I on the field at Busch Stadium.

At 3 o’clock we met up with Michael and gained access to the stadium. He took us on a tour through some of the areas they have for Cardinals’ fans from the Redbird Club to the all-inclusive areas like the Champions’ Club. We grabbed some pictures with the World Series trophies that were on display in the Champion’s Club. Michael was surprised that the 2011 World Series trophy was in the house, he’d thought it was out on tour. Also there were some of the older World Series trophies that the Cardinals had won.

The door to the clubhouse.

We walked past the Cardinals’ clubhouse doors, which we weren’t allowed entry into (though I threatened to just run for it). We also stopped by the media room where I got a picture of myself standing at the podium. Then it was time to head out onto the field.

Maybe someday I’ll legitimately be here.

Sam Freeman and some other relievers throwing in the outfield.

Unfortunately, the previous night’s game was delayed due to rain, so it didn’t wrap up until after midnight, so players weren’t on a typical schedule before the game. So there was no batting practice. Some relievers were tossing the ball around in the outfield. A Milwaukee Brewers player was running laps of the field. And surprisingly, Adam Wainwright was taking some pictures and signing some autographs for a group of fans that I think he’d brought to the ballpark for the day. He managed to run off before I could bother him to take a picture with me.

The 2011 World Series ring.

After standing on the field for a while, we headed to the first pitch room where there are all kinds of Cardinals’ memorabilia. We chatted with Michael for a while and got a chance to get my grubby hands all over his World Series ring. As you’d expect, it’s much nicer than the replica.

Then we headed back out to the field level. A couple fans asked Michael to take their picture and noticed his World Series ring. He let them take a look at it before we said good bye to him and he took off for the day as he was off work.

At that point, Dad and I headed out to find our seats. We ended up sidetracked at one of the team’s shops as Dad wanted to look at getting a Yadier Molina shirsey to replace his Albert Pujols one. Me, I was satisfied to be rocking the retro Scott Rolen one, though I considered adding an Allen Craig or Jon Jay one.

We found our seats in the second row of section 240, with a really nice view of the field. After Sunday’s game we were thankful I decided at the last minute to change what section we got tickets in. The view was better than where we would have been, which ended up being right below the party suite we were in.

One thing Michael did do for us, beyond the awesome tour, is he gave us two passes to the Redbird Club. It’s not an all-inclusive area like the others, but it is a really nice air conditioned area (though air conditioning was not needed last weekend as it was gorgeous). It’s like a sports bar atmosphere with big screen televisions around the place with plenty of seating areas. You could find the Mizzou game and the NASCAR race on the televisions if you wanted to multitask your sports fan-ness.

We grabbed some burgers and sat at a table and watched the bottom of the 3rd and top of the 4th while we ate before heading back to our seats. Honestly, it’s a really nice feature to be able to do that, but I guess I’m one of those guys who really wants to be in his seat all 9 innings watching the game. It just feels wrong.

At the end of the day, the Cardinals’ fell short, which was disappointing, but they gave us enough action to really get a feel for what it’s like to cheer on the Cardinals with 40,000 other fans around you. It’s amazing. Way better than watching on TV.

Craig fouls a ball off. One of my favorite photography shots of the night.

It was certainly an awesome experience to get this opportunity. Big thanks to Michael for giving us the tour. My wife has already said that if I go next year that she’s coming with me and I think she expects a tour too. Haha. It’s not every day that you get to do something like this and I’m very grateful to get the opportunity. One of the coolest memories of my life.

Tomorrow I’ll post about Sunday’s experience where we were with the UCB, the Q&A, and getting to meet some of the other bloggers.