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Road Trip to St. Louis

June 6-8, 2005

Manny Ramirez On the second day, I again stood behind the Red Sox dugout to watch bating practice. Manny Ramirez showed up wearing hitting coach Ron Jackson's jersey and clowned around in front of the dugout. Cardinals reliever Ray King came over with his son in tow to talk to David Ortiz, and Papi signed an autograph for the kid. Doug Mirabelli played catch with Jason Varitek, which was good because it meant Doug should be returning from the DL soon. When NESN's Eric Frede and the Boston Globe's Chris Snow started filming their segment for the pre-game show, Kevin Millar came over and cut in. The woman standing next to me was a Cardinals fan who had a National League Champions poster that had been signed by some of the team, and she was hoping to get Edgar Renteria to sign it. She seemed like a real fan, so I helped try to call him over, but he didn't come. Johnny Damon, Kevin Youkilis, and Bill Mueller did oblige Red Sox fans with autographs, though.

My seat was in the upper deck again, but this time I was down the third base line and much closer to the front of the section. Before the game, Renteria was presented with the National League Champions ring he had earned with the Cardinals last year. Matt Clement was going against Jeff Suppan. Clement was new to the Sox, but he was off to a good start, and my last two games at Fenway (both of which were victories) had been started by him. Suppan had pitched against the Sox in Game 3 of the World Series. He was out-matched by Pedro Martinez that night and made a crucial baserunning error. But tonight the Red Sox had no magic working for them.

Busch Stadium Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer in the first inning. The Sox got back within a run on Varitek's solo homer in the second. But in the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals broke it open. After two outs, a walk, three straight singles and Albert Pujols's double brought four more runs in. Reggie Sanders led off the third with a homer, making it 7-1. Later in the inning, Abraham Nunez lofted a fly ball to left field. Manny ran in and appeared to be lining up under it, but he tripped and fell down. I started to groan, but he jumped up quickly and was still able to make the catch. It was a pretty funny "Manny Being Manny" move! The Sox got one more run in the fourth, when Tek singled and scored on Mark Bellhorn's double.

Clement was done after four innings, and John Halama came in for the fifth. He was still pitching in the sixth, when he hit Larry Walker. I didn't think it was intentional, but Al Reyes plunked Varitek to lead off the seventh, and that was definitely intentional. Tek's the team captain, and he had already had two hits including a home run, so it was no surprise that Matt Mantei opened the seventh by hitting Mark Grudzielanek. Warnings were issued, and the Cardinals fan next to me asked, "Is this what it's like when you play the Yankees?" Actually, this is how it's supposed to be taken care of... you hit our guy, we hit yours, and then it's over with. With the Yankees things get personal, and actually we have more of a beanball problem with the Devil Rays anyway. Mantei struck out the next two batters, then issued a walk. But then he hit Walker. I didn't think in this situation (it loaded the bases) that it was intentional, but Mantei and Terry Frnacona were both tossed. Alan Embree came in and gave up a two-run single to the next batter, making it 9-2. Youkilis pinch-hit to start the eighth, and Reyes hit him, earning himself and Tony LaRussa an ejection. Renteria hit into a double play, his fourth of the series so far, to end that threat. The guy next to me asked if it was true that Renteria was getting booed at Fenway. I told him I didn't believe in booing the home players, and that I hoped he'd turn his season around soon. The Red Sox loaded the bases in the ninth, but couldn't get anything else across. Julian Tavarez struck Bellhorn out to end the game.

On the field in St. Louis The morning of the next day, I took a Busch Stadium tour. At On-Field Photo Day at Fenway Park last year, I had scooped up a handful of dirt from the warning track. My goal was to get some dirt from the Busch Stadium warning track to complete the "collection". I also wanted to have my picture taken so that it would look like I was on the field. I did accomplish both, but first we went around to the plaza outside the stadium where they commemorate their nine World Championships and have statues of the great players in their history. We saw the Batter's Eye Club, club seating like Fenway's .406 Club, in straightaway center field. Fans watch the game through the glassed-in area, but from the field the glass just appears like a really dark background that serves as the batter's eye. Then we walked around a ramp past the site of the new ballpark, right next door. I thought it was strange that the sites actually overlap. They can't build the left field and third base side until the season ends and the existing ballpark is torn down. I thought it was kind of sad that they had to knock down the existing stadium so quickly. As a baseball fan, I imagine there's a lot of history and memories that they would want preserved.

Next we went to the pressbox and looked onto the field. There were several other Red Sox fans on the tour, and we immediately recognized Bronson Arroyo with a group of people down on the field, because he had his hair in cornrows again. Our tour guide told us the Cardinals' Mark Mulder was also there, and they were filming a commercial. Because of the filming, we couldn't use the normal entrance to the field. Instead we got to walk down the runway that the players use to get from the clubhouse to the dugout. Once we were in the home dugout, I was able to grab a handful of dirt from the warning track, and have my picture taken on the field.

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This page and all photos copyright © 2005-2006 by Kristen D. Cornette.