Sunday, August 07, 2005

According To Shannon: The First Busch Stadium Game

Quick, someone call the History Channel.

On Thursday night's radio broadcast, St. Louis' own Garrison Keillor, Mike Shannon, had in his possession a scorecard from the very first game played at Busch Stadium. May 12, 1966. Evidently someone kept score from one of the field boxes behind home plate, and kept the scorecard as a souvenir.

Not a very interesting story? Well it is when told through the mouth of Uncle Mikey.

He zeroed in on the scorekeeper's notation on his card in the fifth inning. Was it the first Busch Stadium home run perhaps? Or first stolen base? Or first anything? Nope. That was not historically important, you see. What was significant was that the said scorekeeper made a notation in the fifth inning of the immortal game that he was...

...OUT OF BEER!

I'm sure the first thing Mike did when he saw that was to take inventory of his own cooler.

You've just got to love him.

By the way, I've found more Shannonisms from various websites to add to these:
"Don't bite off your head to spite your nose."
"Back in the day when I played, a pitcher had 3 pitches: a fastball, a curveball, a slider, a changeup and a good sinker pitch."
After Scott Rolen once ran a count to 3-0, Shannon had this to say as he hoped Rolen would be taking on the next pitch and receive a walk:
"You don't kick that dog as he's sleeping on the porch, you don't step on his tail, you just walk on by. If you step on his tail, he might jump up and bite you on the ankle or the kneecap."
Describing a sudden rash of wildness from Cardinals reliever Jason Isringhausen:
"Izzy's like a wild hare in March, running all over the lot!"
To long time booth mate Jack Buck, in regards to an official scorer’s questionable ruling:
"Well, no one’s perfect. Only one guy was ever perfect, Jack, and they nailed him to a tree!"

Anyway, getting back to that first game,
here's the official box score of that game for anyone interested. (I love this quote from Baseball Almanac about the box score:"Fred Schwed, Jr., in How to Watch a Baseball Game (1957) wrote our favorite baseball box score quote, "The baseball box score is the pithiest form of written communication in America today. It is abbreviated history. It is two or three hours (the box score even gives that item to the minute) of complex activity, virtually inscribed on the head of a pin, yet no knowing reader suffers from eyestrain.")

Just for the record, here are the official Busch Stadium "Firsts"-
Game - May 12, 1966 (Cards defeat Atlanta, 4-3)
Batter - Felipe Alou (who will be coming to Busch for the last time with the Giants in two weeks)
Hit - Jerry Buchek
Double - Gary Geiger
Triple - Julian Javier
Home run - Felipe Alou
Grand slam - Curt Flood
Stolen base - Lou Brock
Victory - Don Dennis
Save - Nelson Briles

The first Cardinals home run at Busch? It was by our very own Mr. Shannon:
And an interesting piece of trivia was revealed during the broadcast. In 1966 at Busch Stadium, how much did a field box ticket cost? Wayne Hagin guessed $12. In my mind I guessed $9.

According to Mr Shannon, a field box ticket cost $3.50! Can you imagine that? I cannot. In 2005, that same ticket cost is in the vicinity of $65 to $70. WOW. But, free agency has been good for the game, right?

In the new stadium next year, I'm afraid to find out what a similar seat is going to cost.

The attendance of that first game was 46,068. I'd say at the prices they were charging, they'd have had to have a crowd of around 920,000 to make what they make at a home game today.

By the way the Cards won that first game over the Braves by the score of 4-3.

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