Once again we included a Spring Training game in our vacation at Ft. Myers, and once again we scheduled our trip to include the Cardinals March 7th visit to Hammond Stadium. The tickets I picked up were just two down from last year’s seats, fourth row just downfield from the Twins’ 3rd base dugout. The weather was sunny and ~80°F with a light breeze, so we were workin’ the sunscreen.
We were parked on Puckett Pkwy this year, and noticed Hammond Stadium again had a liberal sprinkling of Cardinal Red shirts in the capacity crowd. Who were the first ballplayers I saw when visiting the neighboring practice field?
left to right: Trevor Plouffe, Danny Valencia, Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka
I also noticed Jim Kaat, Paul Molitor, and Tom Kelly among the veteran presence at camp this year.
I managed to collect three autographs on my game program prior to game start: Matt Tolbert, Danny Valencia, and Joe Nathan. I don’t remember who sang the national anthem, but as she was approaching the home stretch, the song modulated up pretty significantly. Skip Schumaker took “Light Rail” Baker’s first pitch down the line for a triple and eventually a quick 1-0 lead. The score advanced throughout up to a 5-4 Cardinals lead after six, before the appropriately named Eric Hacker (with help from Carlos Gutierrez) served up five more runs the next two innings.
action photos, from top to bottom: Jim Thome swings away in the 1st; Joe Nathan in the 5th with a 92mph fastball; Trevor Plouffe takes a lead off of 1B; Joe Benson just misses for a third strike
There were the requisite fielding errors and misplays typical of an early Spring Training game, but there were enough hits and baserunners to (almost) keep Mo entertained.
Just as last year’s Cards/Twins game we were at set a Hammond Stadium attendance record, this year’s game broke that record: 8,301. A good time was pretty much had by all.