Tagged: Redbirds

Memphis Redbirds in Oklahoma City

From April 17th to April 20th, the Memphis Redbirds were in Oklahoma City taking on the Oklahoma City Redhawks. Even though the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark is two hours from my house, it should come as no surprise that I was there for three of the four games.  The only reason I missed the Saturday game is that I went to the wedding of friend that I obviously like.  A lot.  
The pictures here were taken over the course of three games.  The friday and sunday night games were chilly, but I took off work for the 4:00 game on monday.  That day the sun was out.  The sky was blue.  I got there in time to watch batting practice.  In the mostly empty ballpark, I settled into my row three seat near the on deck circle.  I kicked off my flip-flops, propped my legs up on the seat in front of me.  I knew my shins were getting a nice sunburn, but I did not care. Warm weather, bright sunshine and baseball players preparing to play the game I love.  I was in heaven.
One thing I often say is when the happy times come, you should enjoy them to the fullest because there is always some problem or sadness lurking just around the corner.  There in Section 113, Row D, Seat 12, I soaked up happiness with a sponge.
Enough philosophy, how about pictures?  The first is a picture of “the colors” being unveiled for the National Anthem.  I liked how the sun shown on the flag, while all else is in shadows.
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I do not know who the powers that be have listed as the top prospects in the Cardinals organization, but here are mine.  Conveniently, the bat one, two and three in the lineup and are all standing together as the lineups are called.
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Here is leadoff hitter and fine center fielder, Shane Robinson, at the plate:
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Robinson on base with his lead-off double:
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Here Shortstop, Tyler Greene bats while left fielder, Jon Jay, waits on deck:
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Tyler Greene actually struck out in the first inning, but hit a triple in the second inning.  Here Tyler Greene is on third base, while Jon Jay tries to bring him home.
JayAtBatGreeneonThird.JPG
Last year, Joe Mather saw a good amount of successful playing time in St. Louis.  He came into spring training hitting very well.  He seemed a lock for the replacement third base job.  Then, he got the flu, lost weight and stopped hitting.  As I pondered the mystery of Joe Mather’s slump, I noticed that he still looked really thin.  Too thin.  I wondered if he ever really gave himself a chance a recover from his illness.
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It’s tough to watch a good hitter slump.  Especially, away from home.  When a batter strikes out, the announcer says, “That’s another Redhawk…”  and everyone (not me) yells “strikeout”.  And, there were the boys who sat next to me that said after seeing Mather’s sub-100 batting average, “That’s the worst player on the team.”  There was the heckler that yelled to the Redhawk’s pitcher something about “his average is on the scoreboard.”  Just brutal.
Word from Memphis is that Mather broke out of his slump over the weekend and is hitting well once again.  Hopefully, he will shut up his critics when he returns to Oklahoma City.  Here Mather takes a strike.  I was excited to actually catch the ball in the frame!  JoeMatherTakesaStrike.JPG
I also caught the ball taken by Jon Jay:
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I saw one Springfield Cardinals game last year.  From that game, I remembered one player, third baseman, Allen Craig.  When Allen Craig was hitting over .500 in spring training, and everyone was saying, “Who is this Craig fellow?”, I was thinking I was a pretty decent scout with good instincts because I do not remember him doing anything special in the game.  I just remember thinking he was something special.  I still do.  Craig had some nice picks at third and he is still raking at the plate.
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I like Jarrett Hoffpauir, too.  Here the second baseman is going after the throw from center fielder Shane Robinson:
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Nick Stavinoha spent some time in St. Louis outfield last year.  This year, he is playing first base and so far, he is not hitting great.
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As I sat in the sun on Monday, a strange event unfolded before my very eyes.  Brian Barton took batting practice and went out to shag flies.  A few minutes later, he was called into the dugout and did not go back to the field.  When batting practice was over, I walked up to the concourse to get refreshments because watching BP is such hard work.  
I saw Barton in the concourse talking on his cell phone.  I thought that was odd, but I just assumed the cell phone reception in the clubhouse was bad.  When I got back to my seat with my peanuts, I checked my phone, and received the news that Brian Barton had been traded to the Atlanta Braves…right before my very eyes.  
I will not miss the need to specify “Barton with a T” or “Barden with a D” in conversations, but I will
miss Brian Barton:  hitter, rocket scientist and world traveler.
Here are the last pictures of Brian Barton in a Redbirds uniform:
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Here is very much the last picture of Barton in a Redbirds uniform.  In Sunday’s game, this check swing was called strike three.  Barton, who has been struggling at the playing, allowed his frustration to boil over.  He threw down the bat, said something to the umpire and was promptly ejected.
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There were pitchers, too.  Brad Thompson, fresh from his demotion from the Big Club, pitched a gem.  He went five innings, giving up only an obligatory long ball to the short porch in left.  Mitchell Boggs good start against the Cubs may keep Thompson in Memphis longer than he would like.
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Clayton Mortensen pitched seven really nice innings giving up only two runs, while getting in and out of trouble.  It was not enough as the Redhawks shut out the Redbirds on Sunday.ClaytonMortensendeals.JPG
Kat Maekawa looked great until he left with an injury to his leg at the end of the fourth.  A combination of relief pitching by Matt Scherer, Ring and Todd finished the game, which was a winner.  Jess Todd, in particular, was impressive, retiring six in a row.  Here is Maekawa:
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Here is the battery for Monday’s game:  Matt Pagnozzi, Blaise Ilsley and Kat Maekawa
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Which brings me to this guy:
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Matt Pagnozzi is a catching prospect to get excited about.  Last year, the Memphis Redbirds catcher, Brian Anderson, impressed me at the plate, but never behind it.  In contrast, Matt Pagnozzi looks great behind the plate, and while he does not swing an exciting bat, his bat was serviceable.  He takes good at bats, can lay down a bunt and did get three singles in two games.  Here Pagnozzi, nephew of Tom Pagnozzi, gets instruction from the dugout:
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Here is a warm-up throw to second.  He has a plus arm.  In his only chance to catch a base stealer, the pitcher did not really give him a chance.  The throw was on target, but not in time.  I predict that Jason LaRue will not be re-signed and Pagnozzi will be next year’s backup catcher.
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I do not often talk about a player being hot, cute or handsome, even when I do find them attractive.  I will go on and on about a great clutch hit, a sparkling defensive play or a perfect pitch because I take the game seriously and I want to be taken seriously. I do not let a player’s good looks make me think he is a better player than he is.  I have years of practice making that separation…not just in baseball, but in life.
However, a strange think keeps happening.  Every time I see an unfamiliar baseball player and his above average attractiveness registers in my mind, he will turn out to be a catcher.  It is really unbelievable.  It is not like they are wearing gear when this happens.
This happened at a Redhawks game this weekend when I saw an Omaha Royals player walking to the dugout.  I thought, “Wow, he’s really nice looking.  Who is that?”  I look at my player list.  Of course, it was the catcher.  We all know how much I love great catching, but this is starting to get ridiculous.  It is like I have an over-active catcher radar.
So, it should come as no surprise, that I noticed Matt Pagnozzi, even before I knew I was looking at the catcher.  Rarely does male beauty actually take my breath away, but his did.  Tell me, ladies, am I off the mark?  Can you not see him in a Calvin Klein ad?
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Thank you for allowing me my “girl” moment.  Seriously though, if he had been a poor catcher, he would have gotten ugly fast.
The Redbirds split the four game series with a very good Redhawks club.  Cardinal fans should rest easy.  The Triple-A club is packed with talent.  Depth is so nice to have.
Next weekend, I will get a look at the Springfield Cardinals as they travel to Oklahoma to face the Tulsa Drillers.  There’s some Wallace kid that they say is pretty good. ; )
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Maybe it was Memphis

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right
-Michael Anderson

Since I will see both minor and major league games this year, it
did feel right to start off my season seeing both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds play two exhibition games over the weekend.  The match-up took place at
Auto Zone Park on historic Union Avenue in Memphis Tennessee.

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Walking into the ballpark, I felt I had died and gone to redbird
heaven.  The entire field was covered
with St. Louis Cardinals and future St. Louis Cardinals, such a beautiful
sight.

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I had heard that Auto Zone Park was even
nicer than AT&T Ballpark, the home of the Oklahoma City Redhawks.  And, the ten-year-old park is nice, but I do
not think it has anything on the ballpark in
Oklahoma
City
.  AT&T
Ballpark managed to add historic value to a new park, by making monuments to
Oklahoma born players,
such as Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle and others. 
The park in
Memphis is missing
the historic element.

 

However, you know you are in Memphis when you are
greeted by a live band playing in the courtyard, just inside the front
gates.  In the city that gave birth to
the
Memphis sound, music is everywhere.  Also, the courtyard is graced with the lovely Memphis Redbird Red Hots.  


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I knew I took a bunch of pictures, but even I was surprised when I uploaded them to my computer that there were 600+ taken over the course of two days.  Unbelievable.  I swear, I did not have my finger on the button the whole time.  I actually kept a scorecard, too.  But, evidently I was very busy.  So, when I say here are “just a few” pictures, you will know I mean it.


Everybody stops to watch Albert Pujols take batting practice.  I think he could sell tickets to his batting practice to raise money for the Pujols Family Foundation.

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The Cardinals 25-man roster includes a number of rookies.  Here are just a few getting ready to take batting practice:  Infielders, Joe Thurston and David Freese, and outfielder, Colby Rasmus.  I believe fellow rookie, infielder, Brian Barden was in the cage.

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New Shortstop, Khalil Greene, looks happy to be a Cardinal.  He had a great spring training, and hit a bomb in Memphis, so we are so happy to have him.

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Yadier Molina heads to work.

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One of my favorite game sights is the catcher, starting pitcher and pitching coach walking in from the bullpen, all warmed up and ready to go.  The walk means it is almost game time.   In the first picture are Yadier Molina, P. J. Walters and Dave Duncan.   P. J. Walters, who will start in Triple-A Memphis, made a spot start for the Cardinals in Friday’s game in place of Chris Carpenter.  Walters had a very fine outing, as the Cardinals won 13-1.

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The second picture is Yadier Molina, Joel Pineiro and Dave Duncan.  Joel Pineiro had a great spring training, and he pitched well on Saturday.  He got into a couple jams, but did not loose his cool.  He pitched better the longer he went.  The Cardinals won 7-3.

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Another beautiful sight:  

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I took the following two pictures, because I wondered if the kid in the #12 Aaron Miles jersey was asking John Mozeliak, “Hey, Mo.  Why didn’t you pick up Miles?  Now, I need a new jersey.  Forget the autograph.  I want a new jersey.”



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Amazingly enough, another kid walked up with a #12 T-shirt.  I imagined him asking the same question.

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This is a nice shot of Khalil Greene , but the guy on second base got my attention over the weekend.  Memphis center fielder, Shane Robinson, has a nice bat.  He made a great diving catch in center, and literally climbed the wall to try to get to a Rick Ankiel home run that was long gone.  

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But, I found the following shot of him hilarious.  From left to right (field), we have Jon Jay (5’9″), Shane Robinson (5’7″) and Joe Mather (6’4″).  Mather looks like a Giant.

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Chris Carpenter was scratched from the Friday start, which is fine with me.  There is always a worry that he has X number of pitches left.  No need to waste them on an exhibition game.  He was reported to have a calf injury, but if he can cop a catcher’s squat to catch Adam Wainwright, the calf must be healed.

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Before Saturday’s day game, I was at the park before it was open.  So, I decided to take a little walk all the way around it.  When I got to the back of the park, the gate was open.  I resisted the urge to trespass.  However, I could see through to the field.  I was not surprised by what I saw:  Third Base/Infield Coach, Jose Oquendo was hitting early morning ground balls to Skip Schumaker.  Here is a picture of Schumaker warming up later.


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Speaking of Jose Oquendo, late in the game on Saturday, he was sent in to pinch hit.  The crowd went wild.  He fouled off a couple and then drew a walk.  When he took his lead at first, the crowd wanted him to steal.  He got moved around to third base.  He had an opportunity to tag and score on a fly ball, but evidently, he did not send himself.  Ironically, he was stranded at the base he will be coaching all year.

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The-closer-who-must-not-be-named, Jason Motte, pitched in the ninth inning Saturday.

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Not to be outdone by the Cardinals coaching staff, Memphis Redbirds Manager, Chris Maloney, sent himself in to pinch hit.  He made nice contact, but grounded out to finish the game.

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Ballpark Food Note

I give the ballpark hot dog a grade of “B”.  Good quality hot dog, toasted bun.  Good, but not fantastic.  The unique food to have are the barbecued pork nachos.  Very good, but very pricy at $8.50.  The hotdogs were $4.00


Livin’ on the Wrong Side of Memphis

I’ve been living on the wrong side of Memphis
Gonna bronze these blue suede shoes
These cowboy boots are gettin’ kinda restless
And I ain’t gotta single thing to lose

–From “Wrong Side of Memphis” by Garry Harrison and Matraca Berg

 

Cowboy Boots


 I live in
Oklahoma.  I know cowgirls.  


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One of my good friends in high school wore Wranglers and Ropers every day.  My life-

long best friend comes from a rodeo family of barrel racers, bulldoggers and bull riders.  My sister, although a city girl in every other way, is a horsewoman who is far happier in her cowboy boots than a pair peep-toe pumps. 

In contrast to my sister who thrives on city life, I do enjoy the simplicity of my small town existence.  But, I am not a cowgirl.  I grew up on a farm.  I went to Oklahoma State, home of the Cowboys (and Cowgirls).  I love a good country tune, and if you want to go two-steppin’, I am so your girl.  Just in case my sister ever lets me near her horse, or I need to go to the rodeo with my friend or two-stepping with you, I own a pair of cowboy boots.

I love my boots however, I am not comfortable in them the way the cowgirls in my life are.  I always feel a bit like I am wearing a costume.  Oddly enough, I am more comfortable in my peep-toe pumps with 4 inch heels.  It is wrong.  No one should feel at home in those shoes.  Maybe my sister’s cowboy boots are her tie that grounds her to her country roots.  Perhaps, my pumps lift me out of my simple life and tie me to the city that I sometimes miss.

That being said, there is no doubt that my “cowboy boots” have been “getting’ kinda restless”.  Winter (meaning the off-season) has been long and tedious.  I decided last year that I would organize my life and finances in such a way that I could see the most baseball possible.  In the dark, cold winter, I have planned, plotted and booked.  As the possibilities unfolded, I became more and more restless, anxious for the day the baseball adventures would commence. 

This Friday, April 3, 2009, it begins.

 

I Ain’t Got a Single Thing to Lose

CardinalsLogo.gifWhen I first started planning, I considered a Spring Training trip.  But, just getting there is expensive, with a plane ticket, rental car and hotel.  Also, when I was looking at it, the World Baseball provisional roster was not out, so I did not know how many Cardinals would be gone. 

 


memphis Redbirds.gifWhile I was still vacillating, I saw that the St. Louis Cardinals would play two exhibition games against their Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds. 
Memphis is only a seven hour drive.  No plane ticket.  No rental car.  Pre-season problem solved.

With two dugouts full of redbirds, “I ain’t got a single thing to lose”.   Redbird heaven, here I come.  Although if the Memphis Redbirds beat up on the St. Louis Cardinals, that could be construed as a bad thing.  Or, it could mean we have great depth.  It is Spring, a hopeful time, so if that happens, I will be bragging on our depth.

So, today, I am packing and preparing.  The #4 Molina jersey is in the suitcase.  The score cards are printed.  The batteries are in the camera.  Gretta V. Jetta has new shoes(tires), a fresh oil change and a new tag.  We are ready to hit I-40 and go east until we cross the Mississippi and end up on the right side of Memphis.   Let the baseball begin!

’33, not #33

I
was happy to find Redbird Chatter on the mlblog.com leaders list this week.  Number 33. 
I have been here before.  I posted
a dedication to #33 Barney Schultz. 
Oddly enough, Mr. Schultz was mentioned on the broadcast of today’s
Cardinals Spring Training game when the discussion turned to whether or not the
Cardinals have ever had a knuckleball pitcher. 
Al Hrabosky impressively pulled out the name, Barney Schultz. 

So,
since I had already written a #33 dedication, I decided to do 1933 instead.  As I did my research, I realized I could use 1933
facts to unveil my projected 2009 baseball adventures.  You might say I was killing two birds with
one stone, but killing birds (especially red ones) is a touchy subject here.

In
many ways, 1933 was a horrific year.  The
Great Depression devastated the nation. 
Aldolf Hilter became dictator of
Germany and terrorized the Jewish
population.  And, the St. Louis Cardinals
only finished in the middle of the National League pack.

But,
there were good things.  Both my parents
were born in 1933.  Frances Perkins
became the first female member of the United States Cabinet.  The St. Louis Cardinals did not win pennant,
but they laid the foundations for what would be a 1934 championship season for
the Gashouse Gang. 

Dizzy
Dean led the pitching staff with a colossal 293 innings pitched.  He finished with a 20-18 record and an ERA of
3.04.  Third baseman, Pepper Martin had
189 hits and 122 runs with a .316 batting average.  He was being knocked in by outfielder, Joe
Medwick, who had 98 RBI’s and slugged .497.

 

Baseball
Adventure #1

Also,
in 1933, Frank Schutt was the general manager of a downtown
Memphis hotel, The Peabody.  He and a buddy returned from a hunting trip
and thought it would be fun to put their live decoy ducks in the hotel’s
fountain.  The ducks liked it.  The guests liked it, and a tradition
began.  The ducks make a daily pilgrimage
to and from the fountain.  It is one of
those “must see” things in
Memphis.  After Graceland, of course.

What
do the
Peabody ducks have to do with baseball? The
Peabody Hotel is in close proximately to
Auto Zone Park, the home of the
Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds.  On April 3-4, Redbirds will migrate in mass to
the ballpark to watch a couple exhibition games between the St. Louis Cardinals
and the Memphis Redbirds.  And, I will be
among them.

 

Baseball
Adventure #2

On
January
5, 19
33, construction began on
one our nation’s most recognizable landmarks, the
Golden Gate Bridge.  I have only seen pictures.  In May, I will actually touch it, when I
visit
San Francisco to see the Cardinals take
on the Giants.  I am excited to see the
beautiful
AT&T Park on the bay and two
Molinas behind the plate.  Heaven!

 

Baseball
Adventure #3

In
June 1933, the Union Station Massacre took place
Kansas City, where four law enforcement
officers were killed in an attempt to free the prisoner they were
transporting.   Charles “Pretty Boy”
Floyd was thought to be involved, but evidence suggests otherwise.  Hopefully, the only violence I will see on my
June trip to
Kansas City, are the Cardinals seriously
punishing a little leather ball when they take on the Royals in the I-70
series. 

I
am excited to see the newly renovated Kaufman stadium.  But, that is not what’s going to make this
adventure extra special.  I will be
visiting family as well.  Hopefully, if
he or she cooperates, I will be meeting my new niece or nephew that is due to
enter the world in June. 

 

Baseball
Adventure #4

On
September
1, 19
33, Ann Richards, future
governor of
Texas was born.  In July, I will road trip to Houston, Texas to watch the Cardinals
play the Astros.  Last year, I enjoyed my
trip to
Minute Maid Park.  I only hope that the Astros do not sweep the
Cardinals this time. 

I
also plan to get in a visit to
Johnson Space Center, which I have wanted to
visit for a long time.  This trip may
also include a stop off in
Dallas to watch a Rangers game.  It seems wrong to just drive past a ballpark
and not stop in.

 

Baseball
Adventure #5

Also
in 1933, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt
in
Miami, Florida, but instead fatally
wounds
Chicago Mayor, Anton J.
Cermak. 

Every
fall, my work takes me to
St. Louis for a few days, which is
exactly how this whole Cardinals fan thing got started in the first place.  Luckily, the trip this year coincides with a
Florida Marlins and a Chicago Cubs series. (Yes, I
could not believe that I found a 1933 fact that included both
Florida and Chicago.  Too bizarre.)

 

Baseball
Mini-Adventures

There
will be other baseball mini-adventures. 
Trips to
Oklahoma City to see the Redhawks and
the Memphis Redbirds.  Trips to
Tulsa to see the Drillers and the
Springfield Cardinals.  The Bedlam series
between my Oklahoma State Cowboys and the OU Sooners.  These can all be related to Oklahoman, Wiley
Post, who in 1933 became the first person to fly solo around the world,
traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes.

My
baseball miles logged will probably fall short of 15,596.   But, I decided last year that I would
organize my life in a way that allows me to see the most baseball possible in
2009.  I saw five Cardinals games last
year.  I hope to see 15 this year.  Not bad, when you live 500+ miles from Busch
Stadium.

I
look forward to taking pictures and chronicling my adventures.  But, mostly, I am looking forward to seeing
some great baseball. 

 

Thanks
to Wikipedia for providing all the great 1933 facts.

A Red Bird is a Redbird is a redbird

Sunday night, the Cardinals will be playing for the Championship!  Oh, to be typing those words in October!  Or, November, since the 2009 season is starting so late.


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The Super Bowl bound Arizona Cardinals are not my Cardinals, but they are redbirds, so I will be cheering for them.  Perhaps, 2009 will be the “Year of the Cardinals”, starting with a Super Bowl Championship and ending with a World Series Championship.  Ah, the beauty.  The symmetry.  The poetry.  The hope that lives and breathes in the days before Spring Training.

 

 


Redhawk.gifThis summer, I am adopting a new group of red birds.  No, they are not Cardinals or even part of the Cardinals farm club, but they are red, they are birds, and they are a baseball team that plays a couple hours from my house.  They are the Oklahoma City Redhawks, Triple-A affiliate to the Texas Rangers, and I have season tickets.

 

 

 


 

IMG_1056.JPGThe Oklahoma City Redhawks play at the beautiful Bricktown Ballpark in downtown Oklahoma City.  The three entrances to the park are guarded by larger than life statues of Oklahoma born baseball legends:  Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench and Warren Spahn.   

 

In this picture, Johnny Bench is standing watch on his plaza. Approriately, this is the entrance behind home plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

IMG_1062.JPGDuring the Oklahoma Centennial celebrations in 2007, monuments were erected to honor other Oklahoma born players:  “Bullet” Joe Rogan, Paul “Big Poison” Waner, Lloyd  “Little Poison” Waner, King Carl Hubbell, Pepper Martin, Bobby Mercer, and “Superchief” Allie Reynolds.  So, this relatively new park does a good job of capturing the history and spirit of the sport.  It’s a great place to watch a ballgame.

 

I was at the park not long after the passing of Bobby Mercer.  His monument was adorned with flowers and a Yankees hat in his memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 With the park being 2 hours away, I won’t see all 72 games, but certainly enough to justify the purchase.  I can trade in my unused tickets for general admission seats and give them to friends–spread the baseball love. 

  

Of course, when the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds, are in town, I’ll be cheering for them.  Ultimately, a Redhawk might be a redbird, but that does not make them a Redbird!  Go Cardinals!