The Campfire

Lost at Busch Stadium: My first experience at an MLB game

Generally, going to a live MLB game is relatively uneventful, but for me, my first experience, at Busch Stadium, was quite the roller coaster ride.

By Payton Woolsey

At the age of seven, I was ecstatic about going to my first (live) St. Louis Cardinals baseball game at Busch Stadium (II). What a day it was going to be!

This was during one of the best MLB runs in recent memory for the Redbirds, in the early 2000’s, back when Mike Matheny was not public enemy No.1 — but a beloved, gold glove catcher.

Ironically, it was Mike Matheny bobble-head night at the ballpark.

It was during an era where a young hitter named Albert Pujols — whatever happened to that guy? — was making waves alongside Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds.

It was quite a robust line-up on a team filled with charisma.

I was genuinely thankful to be there that warm summer night, taking in all of the intricacies of a live MLB, St. Louis Cardinals game.

Sometime around the 5th inning, my dad and I went to grab some “bargain” ballpark food.

During the walk back to our seats, my eyes wandered around, where I kept looking at the fantastic artwork, kites, and historical pageantry of a celebrated past — hanging from the ceiling of the walk spiral.

I look back down to realize that I was not following my father anymore, but some random stranger, instead. Panic grasped around my throat, and I was quite aware of the mess I had stepped into.

Unsure of what to do next, I moved along (moved along) — trying to figure out my best and next course of action.

After much consideration, I generated a plot for a safe return to my beloved seat.

Being able to read a little, but not well, I had no idea where I was or even where my seat was — so my only option was to reach out for help.

I found my target, a safe landing spot; an older lady with a walker — a long time, diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, come to find out.

She had a jersey on with a player’s name on it I had never heard of before; some dude named (Bob) Gibson. Later on in life, that name would have a more significant meaning to me. But at this moment in time, I’m a lost boy among 40,000 scary strangers.

I informed her that I was “somewhat” lost, and she didn’t even bat an eye.”We’ll get you back where you need to be, Honey.”

I was still nervous and untrusting of any stranger — with the mantra of “don’t talk to strangers” ringing through my mind. But, this woman had a calming aura about her and my fears instantly vanished.

She immediately started asking me questions, confusing ones. What section was my seat in? What row? I felt hopeless. How would my dad ever find me? I was doomed.

She then did something brilliant and dumbed down her questions to fit the brain of a seven-year-old. “How many ramps had you walked down?”

I remembered there were three — I was still exhausted from the journey up and down them — so there was a bit of light at the end of the tunnel now — we had our first lead.

“Explain how you got lost, Sonny.”

I explained that I had been distracted by the kites on the ceiling, on my way back from grabbing some grub. She then inquired if I recognized any art or any types of kites that were hanging from above. I drew a blank.

That didn’t help, and there were still thousands of places where my dad could have been. All hope seemed lost, once again.

Next, she asked for details of what my father looked like.

“Big. Really, really big. Like a bear,” I explained. She pointed to some unathletic looking, hefty man who was maybe 5’8,” and I said, “no, he’s BIG.”

Oddly enough, my dad was wearing a shirt signed by legendary mandolin player Sam Bush — with a custom, mandolin slapped on the back — so he stuck out like a sore thumb.

“There he is.” The “bear-man” I had spoken of stood 50 feet away now, with his back turned towards us — looking around quite frantically.

I considered asking this lovely lady if she just wanted to keep me and take me home with her because I thought my dad would be angry at me for wandering off.

My father whips around before I can even express that fleeting thought. Relief then washes over his previously frantic face.

Thankfully, I was not in trouble — far from it — and the day is now saved.

The St. Louis Cardinals went on to lose the game, but on a day like today, I was just glad to be safely in my dad’s arms.

I would like to take a moment and thank the (unknown) elderly lady, who has undoubtedly passed on from this world now — for the extreme intelligence she used to help me.

Only God knows how many innings of baseball the whole search took, yet she sacrificed her baseball watching enjoyment — assisting a young whippersnapper when he needed help the most.

Next Post: Cardinals fans need to embrace Pujols instead of slamming him

This, my friends, is a prime example of why St. Louis Cardinals fans are the best in baseball.

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