Built in late 1881, Sportsmans Park was a mainstay at the corner of Grand and Dodier for 75 years on the city’s north side…..occupied by both the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League and St. Louis Browns of the American League. Of the two, the Cardinals enjoyed the most success, playing in 9 World Series and winning 7. However, Word War Two saw a legion of ballplayers in the service and the Browns took advantage of that to rise from the perianal cellar of the American League to win the pennant in 1944. And who did they meet in the World Series?…well, the Cardinals of course, giving St. Louis it’s one and only all city shootout, dubbed the ‘Streetcar Series’ playing on the method of transportation most fans would use to get to the game. The Cards took the Series in 6 games!
Sportsmans Park was renamed Busch Stadium when August A. Busch and the brewery bought the team in 1953….the last game was played there on May 8, 1966…the San Francisco Giants defeating the Cardinals by the score of 10-5…the great Willie Mays hit the last homerun in the ballpark….
It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words….hope these photos bring back the memory of the early 60’s and many a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with friends (or a night game with dad) at the greatest sports youth memory of mine and maybe yours too!!
A great player…a pioneer…a Cardinal…he had vision on and off the field!
Terry Metcalf (L) sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown…Jim Tolbert (C) intercepted a fourth and goal pass to preserve the win…and Ron Yankowski (R) scored a TD on a 71 yard run with a recovered fumble in the Cardinal’s win over the Washington Redskins in 1973…put that in your trophy case….
Coming off a season ending N-I-T finals loss to Providence, the St. Louis University Billikens were ready to hit the hardwood in the fall of 1961 for the 61-62 season and Tom Kieffer was one of the big guns for Coach John Bennington….remember the names? Kieffer….Bill “Bevo” Nordmann…Dave Harris…George Latinovich…Donnell Reid… Tom Book…Gary Garrison…Gil Beckemeier and Stan Luechtefeld….most all of them high school stars here in St. Louis….
It was like trading for Babe Ruth….picking up Michael Jordan…signing A-Rod…and all in one day….in late Febuary of 1996 the St. Louis Blues convinced Wayne Gretzky to head to the Gateway City and his arrival set off a frenzy of hockey hysteria that has probably never been equaled….here was Wayne’s World right on our home ice!! In his first home game at the then Kiel Center, a record crowd of over 20,000 saw the Great One and the Blues skate to a 2-0 victory over Florida….here’s one of many photos that appeared in the next day’s Post-Dispatch of Gretzky in that game…
Though the nearest beach was probably about 600 miles away, we young guys in greater St. Louis were always afraid of having that sand kicked in our face and thus were fair game for the Charles Atlas ads that appeared regularly in Sport Magazine….in just 15 minutes a day I could look like like THAT??….hey, gamble a stamp….bring it on…..Did ya do it??
An artist’s conception of a proposed ultra-modern 50,000 seat stadium to be constructed in downtown St. Louis to house both the baseball and football Cardinals…this was designed and featured in an NFL type magazine in early 1962…take a look..how close do you think it came to what eventually went up?? Tell ya this…the proposed name never got off the drawing board…initially it was to be called Riverfront Stadium…well, Gussie was having none of that, and the folks in Cincinnati picked up on that leftover idea!
In 1962, well, this was it…every team front and center and accounted for…. hard to believe it today, but with 14 teams around the league, it was easy enough to keep track of who did what…only seven games comprising the weekly schedule…notice the Cardinal’s logo…the Arch didn’t come about until late 1965, but the design for it’s construction was on the table in 1961. Big Bill was a forward thinker…for this pic, tho, some pretty simple designs…brings back some memories!!