Have a baseball road trip coming up? Well, in a bid to help you with your upcoming journeys, Big League Stew has solicited the help of the locals. That's right, we've been hitting up our usual guest blogger crew to feature 10 tips for enjoying each of the 30 ballparks like the locals do. Have a suggestion in addition to the ones listed here? Make sure to list it in the comments below.
JoeSportsFan welcomes you to our home ballpark, Busch Stadium. This is our eighth season in the new digs, which is difficult to describe historically because the previous two abodes were also named "Busch Stadium." Around these quarters, you may hear the new pad referred to as "Busch Three", "Busch III" or "The New Busch," which has nothing to do with Gavin Rossdale's solo career.
Ah, timely 90's references. They kill here in St. Louis; mostly because it takes a decade or so for things like fashion, music and complete malice towards jean shorts to migrate inland.
Nevertheless, Busch Stadium is our home. We love it here. Outside of Kauffman Stadium, it's our favorite home stadium in the country. We think you'll like it too, especially if you choose to indulge these simple fan-approved suggestions.
1. Meet someone at the Stan Musial statue: Downtown St. Louis may not be the best grid-based system in the world (or even the state), but if you want to meet up with anyone, just name a time and mention the magnificent Stan "The Man" Musial statue — which is positioned at the third base entrance of Busch Stadium. It's the de facto place for families, friends and co-workers to meet before heading into a game. If you're traveling alone, head there anyway. You'll undoubtedly run into a handful of locals willing to tell you all about The Man's magnificent career and his life in St. Louis.
Additionally, the surrounding street creates a moat from the buzzard of nearby scalpers and the Musial statue may be the nation's only landmark where cans of beer are allowed as a memory offering. On any given day, you can find a small army of Budweiser cans at the foot of the bronze beauty as a homage to Musial's historical tie to the local beer mogul. Since Musial's death in January, there have been many impressive remembrances; hobos leaving offertory beer untouched at the Musial statue may be the most touching.
2. Non-Budweiser beer is your friend: St. Louis is synonymous with beer. And crime. But mostly beer. You would think the same would be true for a stadium named after a beer, but that isn't the case. When the Belgium overlords bought our brewery in 2008, it broke down this city's emotional connection to Anheuser-Busch and St. Louis experienced an explosion of craft breweries — most of whom have made their way into drought offerings at Busch Stadium.
There are many to choose from and you shouldn't feel ashamed about not ordering an Anheuser-Busch product in a place named "Busch Stadium." Our favorites: Schlafly (shla-FLEE), Urban Chestnut, 4Hands Brewery and Perennial. All outstanding choices that have an array of choices for craft beer enthusiasts.
And if you're thinking that Anheuser-Busch products offer a considerable discount at "Busch Stadium," guess again. At $6.75 for a 12-ounce can, Busch Stadium has the second highest price per ounce in the Major Leagues.
3. Be a fan hero on the cheap: When traveling to a new ballpark, the tendency is to buy high-priced gear from its respective team store. In St. Louis, you have a DIY opportunity to stand out amongst the masses.
Step 1: buy a discounted #5 PUJOLS Cardinals jersey from a street vendor
Step 2: buy a roll of duct tape and Sharpie marker
Step 3: cross out "PUJOLS" with duct tape and write something/anything over it
4. Visit Mike Shannon's restaurant: Mike Shannon and the Cardinals have been together for a long, long time. Shannon has been involved with the organization for 50+ years, as a player and a broadcaster. For the last twenty-five, he's been providing fans with some of the best food in town.
Mike Shannon's Steak and Seafood (better known in St. Louis as just "Shannon's") is an upscale restaurant just a stone's throw over the Ballpark Village site from Busch III. Not only is Shannon's one of the finest eateries in the area, it does so while having the most diverse clientele imaginable. The move to its current location in 2006 afforded Shannon's the ability to open "The Outfield," a patio beer garden surrounding the restaurant that affords views of the ballpark and the rest of downtown St. Louis. There, you'll find a dizzying array of mullets, tank tops and natives willing to show their Cardinals-related tattoos.
Inside, you're likely to run into Mike Shannon himself or guest of his radio show, which is hosted inside the restaurant following home games. And as with any former athlete slapping their name on a restaurant, Shannon's has a full complement of tasteful memorabilia both from Mike's playing days as well as some things that have been accumulated during the later years of his time as a broadcaster.
Our personal favorite: the ball that Mike Laga allegedly hit out of the previous Busch Stadium.
5. Sit somewhere between first base and third base: The Busch Stadium bleacher experience is one that offers heightened inebriation and shirtless men per capita. But if you're in this for the St. Louis experience, we recommend sitting somewhere between first base and third base. It doesn't matter if you're in the lower bowl or the upper tank, it will undoubtedly provide a fabulous view of the St. Louis cityscape.
Oh, and one final word to the wise: it's called "The Arch", not "The Arc." It's a subtle, but very important, difference if you're trying to fit in amongst the natives.
And no, it's never blown over during a tornado.
6. Bring a fully-charged cellphone: They say it's tough to find an open seat at Busch Stadium. It's even tougher to find a reliable cell signal. The two aren't mutually exclusive since most major cell networks choke when 30 people gather in the same room. Multiply that by 10,000 and you've got some serious signal collision, which is extremely infuriating given that fans in the upper tier can see the AT&T regional headquarters a few blocks away from Busch Stadium.
If you're planning on interacting on Twitter and Facebook throughout the game or sending photos of a shirtless hooligan to the JoeSportsFan inbox, make sure you have plenty of juice on your smartphone.
If you're a budding entrepreneur, consider wheeling a generator with USB docks around the concourse and charging people $10 per minute of refuel time.
7. Be your own bartender: Visiting ballparks can be an expensive endeavor. If you're in it for the cheap, consider bringing your own refreshments into the stadium. The Cardinals have a magnificent policy that not many embrace because it's not advertised. In short, the Cardinals allow non-alcoholic beverages stored in open cups or clear bottles to be brought into the stadium. No questions asked. (Read: if your liquid looks like water but is really vodka, that's okay).
And if you're looking for the ultimate frugal juxtaposition: Anheuser-Busch gives out 20-ounce soda coupons if you say that you're a the designated driver for the night. Bring in some vodka and mix it with a free Sprite. Boom. We reveal this underground advice with the expectation that you'll use the cost savings to call a cab at the end of the night.
8. You're not legally required to "clap your hands": Cardinals fans like to tote their self-proclaimed "best fans in baseball" moniker with pride. We won't embrace the title until the wave is organically banished, but fans at Busch Stadium really are some of the nicest people in sports. They follow directions methodically; arrive before the first pitch, only exit in between innings and clap hands maniacally when the Cha Cha Slide tells them to.
In all seriousness, it's going to take a monstrous effort to eradicate the wave at Busch Stadium. We're starting small with the audible injustice that is "EVERY. BODY. CLAP. YOUR. HANDS." Just stop. You don't have to do it and we're abolishing this trend one fan at a time. It's going to take some outsiders to come in, wave a hifalutin finger in our face and tell us that we look like fools. Didn't think you were coming here to work, did you? Join the movement; you're making Busch Stadium a better place.
9. Outstanding alternative coverage of the team: Coverage in St. Louis is dominated by three major players in town: Fox Sports Midwest, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Cardinals themselves (@Cardinals), who are trying to control their own message more and more everyday. Like the scrappy ballplayers that typically occupy their second-base position, their efforts hinge upon unguided hustle in favor of natural ability.
Sure, our opinion is biased, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's trifecta crew of Derrick Goold, Bernie Miklasz and Joe Strauss is the best in the business. All are rooted in traditional journalism and have embraced industry shifts brilliantly. With many outlets cutting full-time staff, fans of the red and white are blessed to have at least three dynamic options of mainstream Cardinals coverage.
In addition to the obvious coverage from the typical outlets, the Cardinals fan-base can also enjoy a wealth of knowledge from "alternative" sources — bloggers, high-profile fans, and plenty of others with intimate knowledge of *something* going on with the team. If you want pictures of hooligans, JoeSportsFan has you covered. If you want insightful, progressive analysis of the team, VivaElBirdos is outstanding. For everything in between, the new Cardinals Conclave — a conglomeration of seven established Cardinals bloggers — has you covered.
10. Be cautious of directions when departing: Busch Stadium is nestled along the Mississippi River, which separates Missouri and Illinois. Most major highways converge in downtown St. Louis and many visitors find themselves accidentally heading east instead of west when departing the stadium. Once aware, novice travelers will instinctively attempt to turn around at the first few exits on the other side of the river.
That is, unless you'd like to see how your rental car looks on cinder blocks. Your best bet is to just keep driving and turn around somewhere near Evansville, Indiana.
What are your favorite tips for a trip to Busch Stadium?
Previous parks: Citi Field, Marlins Park, Great American Ball Park, Petco Park,Comerica Park, Progressive Park, AT&T Park, Rogers Centre, Wrigley Field, O.Co Coliseum, Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, Fenway Park, PNC Park,U.S. Cellular Field, Safeco Field, Target Field, Rangers Ballpark, Camden Yards,Turner Field, Nationals Park, Kauffman Stadium, Tropicana Field, Dodger Stadium, Miller Park, Chase Field