By Ray Downs
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
1. Grand Avenue Grounds/Sportsman's Park I
North Grand Boulevard at St. Louis Avenue
In the 1870s two teams, both called the St. Louis Brown Stockings, played on the field known as the Grand Avenue Grounds. The first Brown Stockings played in the National Association in 1874 and 1875, after which the league folded. The second Brown Stockings played in the National League from 1876 to 1877 but left the league after a game-fixing scandal. These Brown Stockings (later simply the Browns) continued as an independent baseball club until beer-garden owner Chris von der Ahe took over the team begining with the 1882 season and entered the new American Association. The savvy, egotistical von der Ahe (who would eventually erect a statue of himself outside the stadium) provided patrons with plenty of entertainment besides the ballgame: fireworks, lawn bowling, and lots and lots of beer. Led by the talented Charlie Comiskey, and notorious for their dirty play, the Browns won the American Association pennant four consecutive years, 1885-'88.
2. New Sportsman's Park/League Park/Robison Field
North Vandeventer and Natural Bridge avenues
After the 1891 season, the American Association folded and owner Chris von der Ahe led the Browns into the National League. He opened New Sportsman's Park, which included a horse track, amusement-park rides and an ice rink. The Browns, having lost star player-manager Charlie Comiskey to the Reds, quickly became a doormat; in 1897 the team went 29-102. The following year, much of the stadium and its grounds burned to the ground and von der Ahe was beset by lawsuits from those injured in the fire and the ensuing stampede. In 1899 the National League took the team from von der Ahe and auctioned it to the owners of the Cleveland Spiders. The new team played one season as the Perfectos, but because of their new red-trimmed uniforms, they earned the nickname by which they are still known today: the Cardinals. The team struggled on the field and financially for much of the next two decades. Only in 1917, when the team hired away Branch Rickey — whose idea of a "farm system" of minor-league affiliates would stock the Cards with excellent players — from the American League Browns, did its fortunes begin to change.
3. Sportsman's Park II/Busch Stadium I
2911 North Grand boulevard (between Dodier Streetand Sullivan Avenue)
Sportsman's Park II opened in 1902 as the home of the American League St. Louis Browns, who had moved to the city after one season in Milwaukee. The original wood grandstand was replaced in 1909 with a concrete-and-steel structure; by 1926 the stadium's capacity exceeded 30,000. The Cardinals shared Sportsman's Park beginning in 1920, paying rent to the Browns. Over the next 30 years, the Cardinals won nine pennants and six World Series titles. The Browns were generally awful, winning only one pennant and inspiring the joke, "St. Louis: first in shoes, first in booze, last in the American League." Browns owner Bill Veeck knew the team's days in St. Louis were through once Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals. Following the 1953 season, after nearly moving to Los Angeles, Veeck sold the team to new owners in Baltimore, and the Browns became the Orioles. Sportsman's Park was renamed Busch Stadium, and the Cardinals would remain there until early in the 1966 season.
4. Busch Stadium II
250 Stadium Plaza (Seventh and Walnut streets)
Also known as Busch Memorial Stadium, Busch II was the home of the Cardinals from 1966 through 2005 and of the NFL Cardinals from 1966 until the team moved to Arizona after the 1987 season. A "cookie-cutter" stadium built by local construction magnate and philanthropist I.E. Millstone, Busch's most notable feature was the "Crown of Arches." These 96 arches, designed by Edward Durell Stone, surrounded the top of the upper deck. In the 1980s Redbirds manager Whitey Herzog used the stadium's spacious confines and synthetic turf to his advantage by focusing on speed, defense and pitching. These "Whiteyball" teams won the World Series in 1982 and pennants in 1985 and 1987. (Natural grass replaced the turf in 1996.) Busch II was demolished after the 2005 season. Its former location is now split between the outfield of the new Busch and the proposed site of the retail complex dubbed Ballpark Village. Millstone died in May at age 102 when he jumped or fell from the Daniel Boone Bridge over the Missouri River. See No. 66.
5. Busch Stadium III
700 Clark Avenue
The Cardinals' current home is the third to bear the name of the Busch family, who owned the franchise from 1953 to 1996. The new Busch opened on April 10, 2006. On October 27 of that year, it hosted Game 5 of the World Series: The underdog Cards beat the Tigers 4-2, clinching the team's tenth championship — second only to the Yankees. The 2006 title was especially remarkable given the Cardinals' 83-78 regular-season record, the worst ever for a World Series champion. The new Busch was the first stadium to host a World Series champion in its inaugural season since Yankee Stadium in 1923. With the 2008 sale of Anheuser-Busch to Belgian brewer InBev, Busch and the Cardinals are connected in name only.
6. Union Grounds
North Jefferson and Cass avenues (northeast corner)
Millionaire Henry V. Lucas, desperate to own a baseball team, founded the St. Louis Maroons in 1884. The team played in the 10,000-seat Union Grounds (also known as the Union Base Ball Park) and dominated the Union Association. In 1885 Lucas succeeded in having his team admitted into the National League, where the established franchises promptly pummeled the Maroons. Meanwhile, a ballpark fire in 1885 and a tremendous storm in 1886 that damaged his barge fleet devastated Lucas financially. After the 1886 season — the highlight of which was a reenactment of the Siege of Vicksburg at Union Grounds — the team was sold and relocated to Indianapolis. In 1954 the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing project was built across the street from Union Grounds' old location. Pruitt-Igoe was demolished in 1972.
7. Handlan's Park
Marchetti Towers at Saint Louis University, 3530 Laclede Avenue
Handlan's Park (also known as Federal League Park) was home to the St. Louis Terriers of the short-lived Federal League. Among the former major-leaguers on the Terriers' roster were future Hall of Fame pitchers Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown and Eddie Plank. The Terriers finished in last place in the league's inaugural 1914 season but improved to second place in their second — and final — season. The Negro League St. Louis Giants and that franchise's successor, the St. Louis Stars, played in Handlan's Park. Interestingly, the park was called only by its location (Laclede Park) when the Negro League teams played there. The site is now occupied by Saint Louis University housing.
8. Stars Park
South Compton and Laclede avenues (southeast corner)
In 1922 the St. Louis Giants of the Negro National League became the St. Louis Stars. The Stars played in their own stadium — one of the few Negro League teams to make that claim — a 10,000-seat park on what is now the property of Harris-Stowe State University. Among the Stars' stars were the power-hitting first baseman George "Mule" Suttles and James "Cool Papa" Bell, and the team won titles in 1928 and 1930. The Negro National League folded during the 1931 season, and the Stars, in first place at the time, were awarded a sort of posthumous pennant.
9. GCS Stadium
2301 Grizzlie Bear Boulevard, Sauget, Illinois
The Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League have called GCS Stadium home since 2002. The 6,000-seat ballpark is known for its unusual culinary offerings, which include "Baseball's Best Burger," a bacon cheeseburger served between two halves of a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut, and "Baseball's Best Slider," a battered and deep-fried White Castle burger.
10. T.R. Hughes Ballpark
900 T.R. Hughes Boulevard, O'Fallon
T.R. Hughes Ballpark opened in 1999 as the home of the River City Rascals of the independent Frontier League. Designed by HOK Sport, the Kansas City firm that has designed many of the current crop of major-league stadiums, it seats approximately 3,500 spectators.