Above: The legion of Cardinal fans flock to Busch Stadium for a ballgame. Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game will be at Busch Stadium on July 14. St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission photo
Title: A complete All-Star Game ticket from 1966 Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame Museum
This article is for the visitor who’s wondering if he should make the trek into town to catch some of the All-Star Game festivities or do a baseball weekend getaway. (A chorus of “well, DUH!” just went up from our St. Louis readers.)
You see Mr. Out-of-Towner, making the pilgrimage to St. Louis–a city that calls itself Baseball Heaven for good reason–should be on any fan’s bucket list. We have more baseball history, attractions, bars and restaurants here than you could shake your Louisville Slugger at. And we have the St. Louis Cardinals, a baseball team so steeped in tradition and World Series greatness that many fans genuflect before entering the stadium. And this summer, we have the Mid-Summer Classic, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, and all the trappings that come with that event. All I have to stay is it’s about darn time and what are you waiting for?
It’s an All-Star summer
As of this writing, tickets ($75) for the Taco Bell All-Star Sunday events (the XM All-Star Futures Game and Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game) were available. Tickets to the timed event, MLB All-Star FanFest, also were available. FanFest, the interactive baseball event, will be at the America’s Center, 701 Convention Plaza, from July 10–14. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for kids and seniors, or family packs start at $90 for four people (two adults, two kids).
A lottery was held to purchase All-Star Game and Home Run Derby tickets; lucky winners were announced before Memorial Day. These tickets are gone. If you didn’t get any, don’t worry; you still have the kids’ college fund intact and there will be plenty to do when you get here.
Casual fans (CFs) in town from July 13–15 will want to do FanFest and see the Gateway Arch Riverfront. Check out the exhibit, “Baseball’s Gateway to the West” at the Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the Gateway Arch. St. Louis’ baseball history and traditions will be explored thanks to the collaboration between the National Parks Service and St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. The exhibit continues through December.
Other activities at the Arch include helicopter tours, bike rentals and riverboat cruises onboard the Tom Sawyer or Becky Thatcher. The nearby Historic Old Courthouse is the place Dred Scott sued for his freedom and is worth touring.
CFs without Home Run Derby and All-Star tickets can still be part of the downtown fun at several sport-themed restaurants and bars. You can bet the game will be on at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood restaurant, 620 Market St. across the street from Busch Stadium. Shannon, a former Cardinal and currently head team broadcaster, is beloved in this town (he’s a local boy you know) and if you’re lucky enough to run into him at the restaurant, he’ll share a story or two about baseball. In fact, he broadcasts “Live from Shannon’s” for radio station KTRS 550 from the restaurant following every Friday home game. The food, wine and views are great, and make sure to take in all the photographs and memorabilia found throughout the restaurant. And there’s always a party going on before or after the game at The Outfield, the huge bar/patio at the back of Shannon’s restaurant. Patrons can spot a few players there after home games.
More casual eateries are scattered downtown and on the riverfront, and include the family friendly Spaghetti Factory on Laclede’s Landing. It’s not within easy walking distance to the ballpark, but is just a few minutes by car.
Downtown bars that have a good fan base include Patty O’s on South Broadway and Al Hrabosky’s Ballpark Saloon on Cerre Street. Hrabosky’s place has good, cheap eats ($7 burgers, plus other sandwiches and appetizers) and cold beer–a good combination in this town. You likely will see a couple of Cardinals show up after the game at Hrabosky’s, too. Hrabosky, a former relief pitcher for the Cardinals, now is a broadcaster for Fox Sports Midwest, and usually shows up at his bar following the home games.
Devoted fans (DFs) can tack a couple of days on the shorter itinerary and take in all of the above, plus a few other activities. Come into town on July 11 and catch the action under the Gateway Arch that includes the baseball exhibit at the museum, some interactive children’s activities, a vintage baseball game between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the Cardinals/Cubs game broadcast from Chicago at 3 p.m. on “jumbotrons” and the big Sheryl Crow concert at 8 p.m.
After exploring the riverfront, take a day and head to beautiful Forest Park about 15 minutes west of downtown via Interstate 64/40 (click on www.thenewi64.org for construction updates). Here you’ll find the Missouri History Museum at Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Place. See artifacts from previous All-Star Games plus Stan Musial treasures. St. Louis may be named after King Louis IX of France, but baseball fans know Stan the Man is the recognized saint of the city.
On July 12, come to the museum for the Baseball Sunday/Healthy Family Expo from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. that includes a program about Jackie Robinson and a book signing for “High-Flying Birds” by Jerome Mileur that remembers the 1942 Cardinals.
While in the western section of town, stop for lunch or dinner at J Buck’s in Clayton, a comfortably classy restaurant connected with broadcaster Joe Buck and his late father, Hall of Fame broadcaster and voice of the Cardinals, Jack Buck. Enjoy the marvelous baseball and Buck family photos in a good atmosphere.
Cardinal legends Ozzie Smith and Albert Pujols each have a restaurant in the western suburbs (Westport Plaza). Ozzie Smith’s Restaurant and Bar, which has been in that location for 20 years, is more the traditional sports restaurant and bar, while Pujols 5 Grill has a Dominican flair. Pujols 5 has special events planned around the All-Star week, and Ozzie’s offers patrons 10-percent off the bill with a Cardinal game ticket stub throughout the summer. Both are probably a good half hour from the ballpark downtown, so plan accordingly. Westport is a nice open-air plaza with several restaurants, bars and shops, as well as two hotels.
Baseball geeks (BGs) can easily spend a week exploring St. Louis before or after the All-Star Game. Experience the riverfront, FanFest, downtown restaurants and bars plus the History Museum at Forest Park and the concert under the Arch for a great week.
Go deeper into St. Louis’ baseball culture by visiting one of our great neighborhoods, The Hill, in the city’s southern quadrant. From downtown, hop on Interstate 44 and go west to the Hampton Avenue exit. A map of the neighborhood is available at www.shopthehill.com. The Hill is rich in Italian heritage, so visitors will find amazing restaurants, groceries, bakeries and other shops. BGs will want to see Hall of Fame Place, the 5400 block of Elizabeth Ave., where Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck grew up. Berra’s niece still lives in the family’s home. A good way to soak up the history and culture on The Hill is on a guided tour offered by Joe DeGregorio. Reservations are needed and can be made by calling (314) 602-3359.
When visiting Forest Park, check out another great neighborhood, University City. The St. Louis Walk of Fame is along Delmar Boulevard in The Loop district, a quirky and fun collection of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Brass stars laid into the sidewalk honor famous folks connected to St. Louis, and you’ll find baseball greats such as Berra, Musial, Lou Brock, Dizzy Dean, and Cool Papa Bell, among others. In fact, Bell, legendary Negro League center fielder, is buried at St. Peters Cemetery off Lucas and Hunt Road northwest of downtown. A 10-foot memorial marks his grave.
Beyond All-star events
Following the All-Star break, the Arizona Diamondbacks come into town to play the Cards. Minor league teams, the River City Rascals in O’Fallon, Mo., and the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Ill., will not play at home during All-Star week, but will be in town for a home stand July 17-22.
Fans seeking a baseball break should know St. Louis is packed with attractions. Most of our museums, as well as the zoo, are in Forest Park. The park also is home to the outdoor Muny theater. More summer theater is in a western suburb, Kirkwood, at Stages St. Louis.
City Museum is downtown and provides funky fun for older children and their families. Six Flags in Eureka, Mo., about 40 minutes west of downtown via I-44, has the typical theme park fun, and a water park next door cools the family down after a morning riding coasters.
Even without the All-Star Game, St. Louis is a sure winner for a summer vacation.
Deborah Reinhardt Palmer is managing editor of AAA Midwest Traveler magazine.
- Seventy-nine All-Star games have been played, the National League winning 40 games, the American League winning 37; there have been two ties.
- The American League currently has dominated since 1988, being unbeaten since 1997.
- The longest games in All-Star history lasted 15 innings, with the most recent marathon in 2008 (the other occurred in 1967.
- In 1957, Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot box and elected seven of their players to start the All-Star Game. The only player not on the Reds team elected to start the game was St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Stan Musial.
- The Cardinals last hosted the Mid-Summer Classic in 1966.
- The first All-Star Game was in 1933 and was part of the World’s Fair in Chicago. Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward had the idea for what was supposed to be a one-time event. Baseball honors Ward each year by awarding the Arch Ward Trophy to the All-Star Game’s most valuable player.