ST. LOUIS — You know you live in a baseball town when 35,000-plus turn out at Busch Stadium on a chilly weeknight in April. At least, that’s what I often tell out-of-towners.
There are, of course, other ways to know how much folks around here adore their Redbirds. One of them is less than two weeks away: the Winter Warm-Up.
While many clubs can support no more of a fan fest than an afternoon of activities during spring training, the Cardinals attract shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at $40 per head for three straight days on what usually is a cold winter weekend.
Cardinals Hot Stove Report airs Wednesdays in December and early January on FOX Sports Midwest. For local TV listings, click here.
The proceeds go to a good cause, and there is a ton of proceeds. Since the first Winter Warm-Up in 1997, more than $18 million has been raised for area organizations through Cardinals Care, according to the team’s website.
Truly, it is a spectacle to behold at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch. Activities range from a Q&A with fans by general manager John Mozeliak to silent and live auctions of Cardinals goodies to player autograph sessions to the introductions of the newest Cardinals.
Peter Bourjos, Jhonny Peralta and Mark Ellis all are expected to attend this year’s event, scheduled for Jan. 18-20.
To snag an autograph from the newcomers or any of the other Cardinals, you must purchase an autograph ticket. Priced from $5 (Ellis, among others) to $100 (Yadier Molina), the tickets went on sale Monday on the Cardinals’ website and, not surprisingly, they’re selling fast.
By 4 p.m., tickets already were sold out for 14 players as well as for Red Schoendienst and Mike Shannon. Molina was among those whose two-hour session was sold out even though the club has not announced which day he will attend.