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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fond memories of Sportsman's Park

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Synonymous with growing up in south Missouri was being a St. Louis Cardinal fan.

It was just natural.

Everyone in town listened to the games.

My first time to see a major league game was in 1949. My friend's dad took us to see the Cardinals play the Dodgers at old Sportsman's Park located at Dodier Street and Grand in north St. Louis.

It is one of my most memorable days.

It was like a dream, seeing our favorite players -- Musial, Slaughter, Marion, Shoendienst, Brecheen, Pollet, Brazle and others -- walk within spitting distance of us in their bright white uniforms with the Redbird perched on the front of their jerseys.

The field was the smoothest, greenest grass I had ever seen and the smell of popcorn, hot dogs, spilled beer and cigar smoke filled the air, along with the organ music coming from the top level.

We could turn and see Haray Caray and Gus Mancuso up in the radio booth. No other place could have made me happier that day.

I'm sure the thrill has been played out by an untold number of lads from small towns who attend a major league game for the first time.

Replace the name Musial and the manager Eddie Dyer with Pujols and Tony Larussa and you see what I mean.

Old Sportsman's Park was torn down in 1966 after hosting games for the Cardinals from 1920 until May 8, 1966.

The St. Louis Browns of the American League, one of the lowest drawing teams, shared Sportsman's Park with the Cardinals from 1920 until 1954.

Sportsman's Park was renamed Busch Stadium in 1953 when the brewery bought the team.

After the team moved downtown on May 12, 1966, to the second field called Busch Stadium, they moved to another new Busch Stadium a few hundred feet away in 2006.

Times change.

Seats to a major league game following the Depression in the 1930s was $1.75.

Of course everything has gone up, but tickets to major league games have increased dramatically.

A quart of milk was 25 cents during the 1930s, or a dollar a gallon.

Now it's about three dollars a gallon and less at times but ball tickets are many times over their depression-day prices.

What does that tell you?

For one thing, don't be a dairyman. But it does say something about the game of baseball.

It's gone from the national pastime to an entertainment industry.

The ticket prices and players salaries are becoming ridiculous and could ruin the game, in my opinion.

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