Busch Memorial Stadium
St. Louis, MO
Review by Gary
From a month into the 1966 season to the last out of the 2005 campaign, the second of three St. Louis Cardinal ballparks known as Busch Stadium was one of the nicest in the Major Leagues. The names all differed slightly as the original was known as Sportsman’s Park, the latest is Busch Stadium and the subject of this review was Busch Memorial Stadium.
Once you are inside, you would immediately notice the ocean of red seats. As the sun would set, the shadows of the ringed arches would shine on the turf below, which was cool for the fans to see, but not so fun for the fielders running in and out of the shaded areas. Most of the seats on the first base side provided views of the Gateway to the West looming beyond right field.
When I returned in 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum had replaced this venue and was, oddly, located in the National Bowling Hall of Fame. I did not “spare” much time in the latter. For those keglers out there, the National Bowling Hall of Fame is now in Arlington, Texas. The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame remains in St. Louis.
The most notable part of this otherwise cookie-cutter coliseum style stadium is the distinct ring of arches that encircled the upper deck and paid homage to the famous St. Louis Arch, which was built around the same time just a few blocks away.
Once home to the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and, a decade later, the St. Louis Rams for part of the 1995 season, the stadium was permanently retrofitted for baseball only in 1996. The baseball Cardinals played in six World Series during their stay at Busch II. I saw my first World Series trophy when I visited the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
My experiences of the two visits were vastly different as I saw a 6th place team with sparse attendance in 1990 and the eventual National League Champions in August of 2004. The atmosphere was quite improved, to say the least. Throngs of fans waited outside the stadium for the gates to open as the Cards were on their way to a 100+ win season.
I saw Cardinal day games on both visits and remembered how hot it was in the stadium. When first built, the field had natural grass, which struggled to grow in the Midwest heat, so AstroTurf was installed in 1970, although the grass field returned with the 1996 renovations. With no way to get any breeze into the concrete bowl, the playing surface was usually hotter than the temperature outside the stadium. Despite the temps, I really enjoyed both trips to Busch II and taking in the rich history of this storied franchise and its great players, whose statues are all around the park. A visit to St. Louis would be incomplete without taking in a ball game here.