Winter Warm-Up 2017 Report

img_0155-2The first day of Winter Warm-Up was canceled due to Winter Storm Jupiter (how ironic, considering the Cardinals hold spring training there) throwing down freezing rain. The Cardinals refunded autograph tickets and then, on top of that, offered a voucher for all pass holders for two free tickets for a game in the 2017 season.  They didn’t have to do that, but I thought it was a really nice gesture. My friend Kim was unable to go with us to WWU this year (I missed you, Kim 😦 ), so it was just my son and me.

1/16/17:

On Sunday morning, we decided to stop at Starbucks in the hotel because we needed some caffeine.  I looked up and there was Jenifer Langosch, the beat writer for the Cardinals. We chatted briefly and then she had to leave.

There was a line snaking through the lobby, so we joined it. We got a program and realized that the coat check was on the 4th floor, so we decided to go up the elevators to get there. Once there, we discovered that no one was allowed into the main hall from the elevator section until 9:15. To make matters worse, there were several fans in wheelchairs and with walkers for which this entrance was the only way they were going to get to the main hall since they could not use the escalators. Even with autograph tickets, they were not allowed in. I don’t know whose bright idea this was, but it had to be against ADA regulations.  I’m unsure if this was taken care of on Monday since we got there later. Hopefully, this will be fixed next year.

Phil and I rode the elevator back downstairs and by this time, the line was not as long. In fact, it didn’t appear that there were as many people at WWU than there was last year.  I wonder if the cancellation of Saturday’s events turned some people off enough that they decided not to come at all.  We stopped at the second floor and visited the vendor booths.  Rawlings had a booth and there was a real Gold Glove trophy on display.

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We then went upstairs and dropped off our coats. It was time to go to our first presentation of the day, a history of promo items and a 2017 preview of promo items with Megan Eberhart, the manager of Promotions and Events.  Megan asked about some of our favorite promo items.  She then talked about the process about how they come up with the promo items and when they start planning for the next season, which is before Labor Day.  She showed us some of the promo items that will be given away this year, which includes a 1980’s batting practice jersey, a Bruce Sutter garden gnome, and instead of a bat giveaway for the kids, they will get a Rawlings glove instead. Here are photos of some of the 2017 promo items:

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The new slogan for this year is “There’s Only One Cardinals Baseball.” Megan took questions from the attendees and then it was time to go.

Phil and I visited the Cardinals Care store.  They were offering a 2014 Cardinals Care Broadcast Auction Wacha Fan Pack for $20.00, which included a Michael Wacha bobblehead, a replica 2013 National League Championship replica ring, and a voucher for two tickets for the 2017 season.  That was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. I also bought a  Cardinals Care bag to carry it in, since it was in a heavy cardboard box.  We then visited the Cardinals Team Store.  They had lots of merchandise half price or less.  There were lots of items from the Winter Classics and closeout Matt Holliday items.  There was also some Star Wars Cardinals items.

It was time for lunch, so Phil and I left the Hyatt and walked down to Hardee’s for lunch. After lunch, we walked back to the Hyatt.  We went to the Main Stage seating area and were lucky enough to snatch two front row seats.

I left Phil at our seats and took a couple photos of Kolten Wong. They didn’t turn out well enough to post, however. I just got an iPhone and I’m still trying to learn how to take photos with it.  I will bring my digital camera again next year.

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John Rooney had Kolten come up on stage and they had a nice discussion.  Kolten admitted that the team sucked at home last year and they were hoping to do better this year.  John and  Kolten talked about how Kolten had spent the winter in St. Louis.  Rooney asked Kolten how many coats he had and Kolten said six, but he was still cold. I guess it’s hard to get used to a cold climate like St. Louis when you grow up in a tropical paradise like Hawaii.

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After Rooney and Kolten were done, it was time for the presentation I had been waiting for all day, the 1967 team retrospective with Rooney, Mike Shannon, Orlando Cepeda, Dick Hughes and Larry Jaster.  There were some wonderful stories told about the season, Bob Gibson, and the postseason.  Shannon was the best storyteller on the stage.  Rooney’s job was to MC the presentation to keep it rolling. I only wish I would have had the funds to attend the Baseball Writers’ Association dinner that evening to hear more of those stories.

There were 2 booths, sponsored by Ballpark Village and Fox Sports Midwest where you could get your photo taken in front of a green screen and your photo was merged via computer with a background.  Here are my photos:

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I wish I could be an announcer on Fox Sports Midwest.  There are a lot of female Cardinals fans and I’m sure they would enjoy hearing analysis from a female.

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At 2:00 PM, we attended a presentation by Brian Finch, the head of the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, entitled “Ballplayers as Musicians – The Cardinals’ Mudcats Band of 1934.”  This presentation was very informative.  I knew about Pepper Martin and the Gashouse Gang, of course, but I never knew about the Mudcats.  I learned more about Pepper Martin than I probably ever wanted to know, including the fact that he went commando under his uniforms and that he wore the same 5 suits in rotation on road trips.  I am sure if the Mudcats were around today that they would be social media stars.  Brian also mentioned (and there is a display of this in the new Women in Baseball exhibit in the Hall of Fame and Museum) that the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is about a woman who wanted to go to the ballgame on a date rather than the movies.

I was really looking forward to Brian’s presentation on Stan Musial that was supposed to occur on Saturday.  Hopefully, he will save it for next year’s WWU.  Brian’s presentations are very informative and entertaining.  They are worth the price of a WWU pass alone.  Brian even sent me an email with the sources he used for his presentation, and I am passing them on to you in case you would like to read about Pepper Martin and the Mudcats:  Pepper Martin:  A Baseball Biography by Thomas Barthel and Baseball’s Greatest Hit: The Story of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by Andy Strasberg.  Click on the titles to order them from Amazon.  I am going to see if I can find them at my local library.

After the presentation, we went back to the main stage area to see Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty.   I snapped a couple of photos:

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Adam Wainwright was also signing during this time and he was very personable as always.  For those of you who love Randal Grichuk, here is a photo of him:

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We stopped by the Cardinals Magazine table and I purchased a very nice commemorative magazine about Busch Stadium II which was published in 2005, Busch Stadium II’s last year of existence.

Phil and I were getting tired, so we decided it was time to go home.

1/16/17:

Tom Lawless was the only free autograph I wanted to get in the morning on the 16th, and he was signing until 11:00 AM, so we decided to head to WWU a little later in the morning. The will call in the 100 N. Broadway building was empty, as we discovered when we went there first.  We then went to the hotel lobby to get an autograph ticket.  We stopped by the vendor with all the individual baseball cards and I found one of Tom for him to sign.  I wanted to find cards for Randy Flores and Kerry Robinson, but he didn’t have one for either player.

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Mike Leake was also signing. Mike, didn’t your mama ever teach you you’re not supposed to wear your hat inside?  LOL!

We then went to the main stage area and I got Tom’s autograph.  We then went to the Cardinals Care store and the Cardinals Team Store to see if they had any new merchandise or had marked down any items. I purchased a pennant for $3.00 to use for my afternoon free autographs. The CC store had marked down some of their items but they were still not in my price range.

At 11:00 PM, we went to a presentation given by team photographer Taka Yanagimoto titled “2016 – A Year in Photos.”  Mr. Yanagimoto presented a slide show of many excellent photos, both formally posed shots and candid shots.  He showed photos of Seung Hwan Oh when he signed with the team and when he stepped out of the dugout and onto the field for the first time. Everyone was amused by the photo of Jedd Gyorko and Brandon Moss sitting in lawn chairs on the field drinking beer next to a barbecue grill.  Mr. Yanagimoto showed us one of his favorite photos, which was taken on the roof of Busch Stadium.  He told us about how he gets up on the roof of Busch Stadium.  I’m not afraid of heights, but that’s too far up (and there are no handrails) for me.  Mr. Yanagimoto stated that the Cardinals are only one of three teams in MLB to have their own photography team.  It was an entertaining and informative presentation.

Both Phil and I were getting hungry, so we went to lunch at St. Louis Bread Company. I was pleased to discover that our order would be delivered to our table. The Bread Co. locations in Illinois don’t offer that service yet.

We went back to the hotel at 1 PM and got autograph tickets for Kerry Robinson and Randy Flores.  The sign with the ticket pick up information indicated that Yadi’s flight was delayed and he would not be at WWU to sign autographs until 3 PM.

My line ticket for Randy Flores was number 269 and they were only taking line tickets 1-50.  So we went to the food area to kill some time and we ran into Sally Rains of STL Sports Page. We had a nice conversation about some of the other Cardinals bloggers (don’t worry, I didn’t say anything bad at all about you).

Here are Randy and Kerry:

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I really wanted to stay to see Yadi, but I had to get home to put some leftover lasagna in the oven for dinner.  Maybe next year I’ll get to see Yadi.

It was great seeing all the guys.  It made me realize how much I missed baseball.  Pitchers and catchers report on Valentine’s Day. What an appropriate day!

I’m sorry it took me so long to post this.  I had to figure out how to get my phone photos downloaded where I could do something with them, and then I had to write everything up.   Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

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