This was my first complete weekend excursion into the Winter Warm-Up experience. In 2004, an attorney I worked for had his uncle’s pass, so I headed over to the hotel on my lunch hour and zipped through the whole thing.
I usually do not go to Winter Warm-Up because of the cost of the pass ($40). My friend Kim, however, contacted me and asked if I wanted to go. I conferred with my husband and I was able to say yes. I couldn’t afford any of the paid autograph tickets (and neither could Kim), so we thought we’d get some free autographs and attend some of the presentations. We could also see our boys of summer and get our fix until spring training. It was a win-win for both of us. My son Phillip also came with us.
As you may know, all proceeds from Winter Warm-Up go to Cardinals Care, the Cardinals’ charitable organization that supports children’s agencies, builds youth ball fields, and funds Redbird Rookies, which is a a youth baseball development program. There were silent auctions held all three days, as well as live auctions on the main stage, the proceeds of which also went to Cardinals Care.
On Saturday, we arrived and went to the second floor. We enjoyed looking at some of the goodies at the Cardinals Authentics booth, which unfortunately were out of our price range. We then went into the exhibitor hall to check out the vendor booths. There were 44 vendors in the exhibitor hall, and 90% of them were sports collectible vendors.
After we got through the vendor booths, we went to the food sales area and got a soda. We then decided to go upstairs to the fourth floor to the main stage area to hear general manager John Mozeliak speak. Dan McLaughlin of Fox Sports Midwest conversed with Mo, and then the floor was opened to questions. Some of the questions were very interesting. Here’s a photo of that (it was taken with my phone from a distance, so I apologize for the quality of the photo):
After we listened to the Q & A for a while, we decided to go to lunch. We walked down the street to Hardee’s.
When we came back, we decided to attend the 1:00 presentation in the Dugout Room. We heard Dan Farrell speak about the Cardinals’ sales and marketing strategies for 2016. Mr. Farrell told us about the HD video boards that were recently installed at Busch Stadium. Mr. Farrell also talked about some of the promotions and theme nights for 2015. He also mentioned that instead of 25,000 giveaway items per game, there would be 30,000 giveaways per game. Mr. Farrell also told us about a perk for season ticket holders – you are eligible to purchase a complete set of the promotional item giveaways for the season.
After the presentation, we went back to the fourth floor and looked at the goodies on sales at the Cardinals Team Store and the Cardinals Care Store. The items at the Team Store were at least 50% off, if not more. I purchased a little travel purse, originally $24.00, for $12.00. I had wanted this particular item last year, but couldn’t find it this year.
After we were done looking through the stores,we went to the Clubhouse Room to a 2:00 presentation with Dan Martin, who is the artist that presently draws the Weatherbird for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Most of the presentation was about the late Amadee Wohlschlager, who drew many Cardinals and sports illustrations and who also drew the Weatherbird for many years. Dan then drew the Weatherbird on a large paper on an easel to show us how it’s done. He then had it auctioned off for Cardinals Care.
After the presentation, we then went back into the main stage area to discover Jennifer Langosch (the beat writer for the Cardinals) and Derrick Goold (a sportswriter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the president of the Baseball Writers’Association of America), being interviewed by a member of Team Fredbird. This must have been a last minute thing, because it was not on the board that listed who was going to be on the stage that day. I then saw and briefly chatted with Lindsey Weber, the Cardinals’ social media director. After that, we went home for the day.
Via text Saturday night, Kim and I discussed what free autographs we wanted to get the next day and what time we needed to be there the next day to get tickets. We arrived at 10 a.m. and stood in line to get tickets for Rick Horton’s autographs. I went to a lot of games in the 1980s and remember seeing Rick pitch. We then went to the second floor and got a soda. We then went back up to the Team Store, where I purchased the duffle bag I had looked at the day before.
We went back to the autograph ticket line to get autograph tickets for Andy and Alan Benes. I then realized we needed something for Rick and Andy and Alan Benes to sign. We popped into the vendor area and the very first vendor we stopped at had baseball cards of that day’s players for 50 cents each. They were in great shape and the price was right. We then went back to the lobby and got our autograph tickets for the Benes brothers, then went back upstairs to get in line for Rick’s autograph. Rick was very nice and personable. While in line, we listened to Mike Shannon on the main stage. There was Q & A’s about his restaurant closing.
After we got Rick’s autograph, we decided it was time for lunch. We went to Hardee’s again.
We came back and got into the line for the Benes brothers’ autographs. The line moved quickly. After we got the autographs, we went to a presentation in the Clubhouse Room given by Brian Finch, the author of Redbird Relics. The presentation was about Billy Southworth’s modified baseball cap that his son wore in combat in World War II, and we could see and take photos of the cap:
After the presentation, we went back to the Team Store to see if any new merchandise had come in. I scored a leather steering wheel cover for $8.00. We then headed home.
On Monday morning, Kim texted me and begged off for today, stating she had “people overload.” I certainly could understand that. There weren’t as many people there today, however, probably because it was Monday and a lot of people had to go back to work.
There wasn’t any free autographs that we wanted to get today, so Phil and I attended the presentation in the Clubhouse Room at 10:00 a.m. that looked back at the performance of Yadi and Waino in game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, which was again presented by Brian Finch. It was a toss-up between attending this presentation and listening to Bill DeWitt III on the Main Stage. Brian told us what Mr. DeWitt was going to speak about, which were the names of the 2016 Cardinals Hall of Fame nominees. There will be a formal post later with the names of the nominees. So we didn’t really miss anything after all.
We also saw Yadi’s bat and cleats from the 7th game of the 2006 NLCS. Here’s a photo (sorry about the flash, curators – I forgot to turn it off and I wanted to move the line along):
At this presentation I also got to meet Josey Curtis, a fellow United Cardinals Bloggers blogger, who writes for STLSportsMinute.com. She’s only 14 years old and she’s a great writer. Go and look her up after you’re done reading this blog post.
After the presentation, we went back to the Team Store. The wheel cover I bought yesterday didn’t fit my vehicle’s steering wheel and I wanted to see if I could get a refund. I couldn’t get a refund, but they let me have an exchange, so I got a nice Cardinals coffee mug that I will use at work.
On our way out, we stopped at the Tony LaRussa ARF Foundation booth. Phil purchased a Memories and Dreams commemorative Hall of Fame Weekend Program from when Tony was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame which was autographed by Tony for only $5.00. That was a great deal. We then went to St. Louis Bread Company for lunch since we were burned out on Hardee’s. I ran into 2 attorneys there that I used to work for. It was nice to see them.
This was the first Winter Warm-Up I attended and I really enjoyed it. I have a few practical tips, should you decide to attend next year:
Carry a little cash. It is safer to carry plastic, but there is some things you will need cash for. You will need cash to tip the coat check attendant. The food sales area (water, soda, food items) and the beer vendor only take cash. I didn’t buy any 50/50 tickets, but I would think they would only take cash as well. Plus, if you have a budget for the day, you can carry that amount in cash, and once it’s gone, you’re done spending.
Dress in layers. Certain areas of the ballrooms are warm and some are chilly. I got warm in the main stage area on Saturday when there were a lot of people there. The Clubhouse Presentation Room also got warm in the afternoon. You can check your heavy coat with the coat check attendant on the fourth floor near the elevators.
Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing in line for autograph tickets and standing in line for autographs, and you’ll be walking around a lot.
Decide if it’s more important to you to get autographs or listen to presentations. If there is a presentation on the Main Stage that’s going on while you’re in the autograph line, you’ll be able to hear it. But the other presentations are in conference rooms on another floor. And if you want to get autograph tickets for free autographs, you may have to wait in line during times when presentations are being held. The schedule is posted on the Cardinals’ website, so you can figure out in advance what you want to do. There are last minute autograph sessions and presentations, so keep your schedule open.
If you live in town and you don’t want the hassle or expense of finding a parking spot in a garage, you can take Metrolink to downtown St. Louis. It’s a 5 block walk from the 8th & Pine Metrolink station to the Hyatt Regency.
Winter Warm-Up was a nice reminder that spring training, and then baseball, is right around the corner. Hopefully, the time will pass quickly. That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you next time!