The St. Louis Cardinals might not have released their Spring Training schedule yet, but the Redbirds did announce when they will be holding their annual Winter Warm-Up. The three day event will take place on January 19, 20, and 21. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Nov. 23.
When I was a teenager, I remember going to the Oakland A's Fan Fest event every year with my dad at Jack London Square. Every year it was something we looked forward to doing, just the two of us. We got a chance to hang out, talk baseball, see the players, I asked for the players' autographs and we got a chance to see what the team had in store for the coming season.
After the A's moved the event to the Oakland Coliseum, it didn't have the same feel to us. The A's also started charging to attend after never doing so before.
The Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up will be the same sort of thing. The only major difference between the A's ones I attended in Oakland and the Cardinal's event is that while Oakland was a one day thing, here in St. Louis, it is over three days.
The Winter Warm-Up will be held at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch hotel. On Saturday and Sunday, January 19 and 20, the event will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the final day, Monday, Jan. 21, the hours will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets are $40 for fans 16 and older. Fans between 5 and 15 years of age will cost $10 and children under five are free. According to the Cardinals' website, each ticket is valid for admission on all three days of the Winter Warm-Up.
There will be autograph sessions with current and former players, the broadcasters as well as front office officials. There will also be games and auctions for autographs and game used memorabilia going on.
I remember getting some of my early A's gear at the A's annual Fan Fest event.
When one of my favorite players was traded during the offseason, I got the chance to meet the A's general manager Sandy Alderson (now the Mets GM) at Fan Fest.
While I was talking to him about him trading away my favorite player (Steve Karsay) to the Indians, Mr. Alderson apologized to me.
The season in which Mark McGwire was traded to St. Louis, I got the chance to ask McGwire a question during the Q-and-A session with the players. Of all the things I could have asked, the only thing on my mind was home runs. I asked McGwire if he thought he could break the record.
While I don't remember McGwire's response word for word, he said there was no need to talk about it until someone had 50 homers going into September.
McGwire hit 58 home runs that year, 34 with Oakland and 24 after being dealt to St. Louis.
The names of players who will be there for autographs have not yet been released, but they will be soon and tickets for those will go on sale Dec. 19.
Of course, not all of the autographs will cost money. However, for the ones that do, the money will be going to a good cause, the Cardinals Care programs in the St. Louis area.
This will be the first year I have had the opportunity to attend and I hope that I am able to start the same tradition of going with my kids as my father and I had.