Sports & Recreation

  • Best College Athlete

    Brad Smith
    University of Missouri

    Tapping Mizzou's sophomore phenom Brad Smith for this category is a big no-brainer. The Youngstown, Ohio, native is the finest player to grace Faurot Field since Kellen Frickin' Winslow -- a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate (just ask the folks at ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated) who has his Tigers positioned squarely in the once-unthinkable stratosphere known as the… More >>
  • Best High School Athlete

    Kevin Lisch
    Althoff High (Belleville)

    Kevin Lisch may only be known for his prodigious basketball skills, but amid the laziness of summer, the six-foot-two guard is always looking for a game -- whether it be golf, wiffleball or 100-meter match sprints in his backyard with one of his sisters. Lisch is the most prominent male member of a dynastic local athletic family whose sire is… More >>
  • Best Cardinals Player

    Albert Pujols

    Here's a full-season stat line for you: a .330 batting average, 14 home runs, 102 RBI, 49 doubles, 35 stolen bases and a slugging percentage of .484. Oh, yeah -- and the player is the top National League shortstop. With numbers like those (projected, as of mid-September, over the full season), how can Edgar Renteria not be this year's Best… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Brad Soderberg
    St. Louis University

    Less than a year ago, rookie St. Louis University men's basketball coach Brad Soderberg found himself on the hot seat before he'd coached so much as one game. Perceived out of the chute as a ho-hum hire to replace the departed Lorenzo Romar, the former University of Wisconsin interim head coach was essentially judged guilty until proven innocent, and a… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    DB's Sports Bar

    The purest gauge of a sports bar's efficacy can be expressed thusly: "Can I get my game on?" If you can't, it probably means one of three things: 1) the sports bar doesn't have enough TV sets; 2) the waitstaff is inadequately trained or unwilling to navigate the satellite dish; or 3) the Cardinals, Blues or Rams are playing on… More >>
  • Best Sports Broadcast Personality

    Frank Cusamano
    KSDK-TV (Channel 5)

    Frank Cusamano is a local. He went to DeSmet High School, which you can tell by listening to his daily radio show on KFNS (590 AM). He played basketball at UMSL. He's a fan of the Cardinals, Rams, Blues and St. Louis University basketball, as you can tell by the energy in his voice when he does his sportscasts for… More >>
  • Best Batting Cage

    Par-Tee Recreation Center Inc.

    To select the best St. Louis-area batting cage, we enlisted the help of an eight-year-old baseball fanatic. After sampling several batting cages, we had a winner: Par-Tee Recreation Center in Florissant. Each of the nine batting cages has an actual home plate, not some painted-on fake. Our evaluator was delighted with the pitches (and proclaimed each hit a homer). For… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    North Pointe Family Aquatic Center

    When it comes to pools, the motto in St. Louis is: "If we build it, they will come." Over the past decade, municipalities have been trying to outdo each other in the water-park department, which means there are plenty of good public water parks to choose from. Using a scientific formula that considered nonresident admission fees, types of water attractions,… More >>
  • Best Boxing Gym

    South Broadway Athletic Club Annex

    Listen, kid, if you're gonna box, you're gonna have to get strong, fast and mean. And you ain't gonna get that way without focus and determination. When you go to "train" at that excuse for a gym -- the air-conditioned one with the juice bar, the Spandex and the co-ed yoga -- your focus and determination ain't where they should… More >>
  • Best Local Boxer

    Cory Spinks

    Best local pugilist? It's gotta be Cory Spinks, 31-2, who snatched the International Boxing Federation's welterweight belt from Italian Michele Piccirillo this past April, after losing to him the year before. Spinks dominated the fight and won a unanimous decision. Managed by St. Louisan Kevin Cunningham and now a cog in Don King's boxing empire, Spinks has his sights set… More >>
  • Best Bluegill Fishing Tournament

    The one held every June at Karban's Knotty Pines Tavern

    One of the coolest things about Southern Illinois is that you don't have to look for rural tranquility -- you're more or less in it once you sail past East St. Louis. But even by these standards, Paderborn is a tiny town, boasting a church, a population under 100, and Karban Knotty Pines Tavern, a delightful highway-straddlin' watering hole that… More >>
  • Best Fishing Hole

    Elk Fork of the Salt River near Paris, Missouri

    Yeah, it's a bit of a trek, but we can explain. The best fishing hole must be sufficiently remote to allow the best form of fishing, of which the indisputable stylistic king is noodling. Noodling is an inexplicably illegal, positively Paleolithic form of fishing that essentially consists of a semi-crazy fisherman diving to a river bottom and wrestling a giant,… More >>
  • Best Blues Player

    Barret Jackman

    In a season that was by turns exhilarating and frustrating for Blues fans, rookie defenseman Barret Jackman gave us all a reason to be proud at season's end. Yes, the Calder Trophy (denoting "Best Rookie") was a nice acknowledgment of Jackman's talent and went a little way toward easing the pain of another early playoff exit, but the real thrill… More >>
  • Best Ex-Cardinal Whose Number Isn't Retired in Right Field

    Willie McGee

    Quick, name the center fielder to whom this one-season stat line belongs: .353 batting average, 216 hits, 114 runs, 82 RBI, 56 stolen bases, 18 triples and a .503 slugging percentage. Joe DiMaggio, right? Well, no -- Joltin' Joe was fleet, but not 56-stolen-bases-and-18-triples-quick. Willie Mays, perhaps? Wrong again. This is Willie McGee's 1985 campaign, one of the greatest single… More >>
  • Best Rams Player

    Isaac Bruce

    Ike Bruce doesn't knock up gold-digging barflys, get accused of beating women or hold out for crazy contractual bling. Furthermore, Bruce's wife doesn't call up local sports-radio shows to defend his honor and dispute that of his head coach. Nope, all Ike Bruce does is catch footballs. Lots of 'em. A portrait of pure professionalism, the University of Memphis grad… More >>
  • Best Public Park

    Tower Grove Park

    In the words of an original park report, Tower Grove Park's thoroughfares were designed for "the costly chariot flashing with silver and polish, and also for the humble wagon with its painted sign indicating its daily use." Diverse groups are still served by the south St. Louis pleasure ground more than 100 years later. For toddlers, a lifeguard-monitored wading pool;… More >>
  • Best Forest Park Improvement

    The boathouse

    Sure, we're all getting tired of the ribbons of orange plastic fencing that have been wrapping Forest Park like a Christo work gone sour. But as the barriers come slowly down, a park transformed by years of planning and fundraising is unveiled. Lawrence Halprin's stunning gates aside, the park's best actualized improvement is the newly rebuilt boathouse. Though there was… More >>
  • Best Place to Jog

    Forest Park

    If the category were Most Convenient Place to Jog, avid runners with busy schedules would respond as one: "my neighborhood" or "the park closest to my house." But if time is no object and you have no moral objection to driving somewhere for a jog, then head to Forest Park. Bike paths snake throughout the 1,300-acre park and provide a… More >>
  • Best Urban Bike Ride

    The St. Louis Riverfront Trail

    Propping Tower Grove Park is always a noble endeavor, and there's no better way to experience its beauty -- especially now, in the fall, when the trees are exploding and the squirrels are starting to panic. But we're looking for a ride, and a cruise through the Grove is more of a jaunt. The best in the city is also… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike

    Castlewood State Park

    It's hardly as remote as the Mark Twain National Forest or the rugged Ozarks, but Castlewood State Park is as close to nature as you can get inside the metro area. Just a half-hour's drive from downtown and mere minutes away from the suburbs of Ballwin, Castlewood straddles the Meramec River and offers more than fifteen miles of trails. The… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Bellerive Park

    Watch the barges, nibble on some cheese, have a glass of wine, experience the river, all in a park that, if you time it right, can be yours. Bellerive Park, all five and a half acres of it, is in south St. Louis, right at the intersection of Bates and South Broadway, and it only has one picnic table,… More >>
  • Best Stroll

    Lafayette Square

    Forget about Ted Drewes, toasted ravioli, the Arch and Forest Park -- if you really want to show out-of-town visitors that the River City ain't no urban slouch, just take them on a stroll through the spectacular confines of the city's historic Lafayette Square neighborhood, which boasts the oldest public park west of the Mississippi in addition to hundreds of… More >>
  • Best Thoroughbred Trainers

    Ralph and Raul Martinez

    Imagine yourself at an Amsterdam hashish bar, staring across the table at a Pakistani tourist who knows about as much English as you know Pakistani. In order to communicate, you and your South Asian friend -- both of you baked -- are forced to rely on telepathy, gestures, rhythm of speech and expressiveness. This is tantamount to what it's like… More >>
  • Best Bowling Lanes

    Epiphany Lanes

    If it's not against your religion to give money to the Catholic Church, Epiphany Lanes is a dandy place to smoke, drink and bowl. Located in the recreation building behind Epiphany of Our Lord Church, Epiphany Lanes is one of two parish-owned bowling houses in the city. (Magdalen Lanes on Kingshighway is the other, but it's closed on Sundays.) The… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley to Die in the Past Year

    Arcade Lanes

    A jukebox featuring Al Hirt playing "Cotton Candy" and selections by the Mills Brothers. A leaky roof. Keeping your own score. Cranky pinsetters. Scuffed-up rental shoes. House balls pocked and gouged. Never waiting for a lane. Dusty trophies and air thick with memories. All destroyed by fire. R.I.P., Arcade Lanes.… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf

    Concord Lanes

    How often have you wished, after a round of miniature golf, that you could go right inside and bowl? Or looked for the batting cages just after a tough rock climb? Maybe not too many times, but just in case, Concord Lanes on Tesson Ferry Road has it all -- an eighteen-hole mini-golf course, an artificial outdoor climbing wall, a… More >>
  • Best Hole at a Golf Course

    No. 16 at Annbriar Golf Course

    "A freakin' brute" is how one veteran golfer describes Annbriar Golf Course's sweet No. 16. It isn't the most scenic hole -- No. 11 gets that honor -- but if it's a challenge you want, then the par-four, 466-yard sixteenth is a great choice. A golfer has to struggle with a tee shot into the breeze onto a fairway that… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    Chaney Elementary School

    There is a forge in which heroes are made, and it's just behind Chaney Elementary School (formerly A.B. Green Elementary) in Richmond Heights. You may not realize you've seen this pair of basketball courts, but you have. Every car traveling east on Highway 40 near the Hanley exit zooms past this famous spot. Players at Chaney always have an audience… More >>
  • Best Sports Bargain

    Late innings at Busch Stadium

    Pssst. Wanna go see the Cardinals play for free? Redbirds' management doesn't advertise it, but when they open the big metal gates at Busch Stadium to allow folks to leave, any schmo on the street can waltz into the stadium for free. That usually happens around the bottom of the seventh or top of the eighth inning, according to guest… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Hermann

    It is a problem, this lack of distinct getaway options when you live in the middle of the prairie. Drive four hours in any direction and still no mountains, man. No ocean, no surfing, no nothin'. Just drag racing on county roads, bowling and an occasional state fair -- that's all we got. Accepting our landlocked limitations while submitting that… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    Big Bend Yoga Center

    As encouraging as this year's bumper crop of yoga spots has been for stretch-and-sweat enthusiasts (particularly the debuts of the Pilates Center of St. Louis in Dogtown and Lafayette Square's much-needed Marbles Yoga Studio, which shares its space with an art gallery), the Big Bend Yoga Center has set the local standard for close to a decade now. Big Bend's… More >>

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