Two weeks ago today I left for my summer vacation. I have 2 brothers who live north of Denver that I try to visit every two years. Living in southern Illinois, it is about a 15 hour drive along I70 to get there. I decided to take a slight detour through Springfield, MO and catch 2 Springfield Cardinals games. I had purchased a special ticket package back in January to watch batting practice that had to be used on a Monday-Thursday game. This trip was the perfect time to coordinate everything into one outing.
We arrived at Hammonds Field for batting practice at 4:00 Thursday. I am not for sure about other minor league teams, but none of the Cardinals clubs open gates for fans to see batting practice. It was neat to see the team go through some conditioning drills before batting practice began. My kids ended up getting 5 baseballs that were hit in various parts of the stadium, but only one still had the Texas League logo still legible. I will get to what we used that ball for later. The Cardinals #1 prospect Alex Reyes was promoted to Springfield the day before, so we had good timing with our trip. After practice, he stopped and signed 2 cards for me and a ROMLB on the sweet spot. My son shares the same first name, so we have been following Reyes since he was in Peoria last year. From what little I talked to him, he seems to be down to Earth for a 20 year old baseball player. He thanked us for coming a long way to see them play and wished us safe travels the rest of our vacation.
After watching batting practice, we had to exit the stadium for 30 minutes before gates opened to the public. We waited in line for our mini Matt Carpenter bobbleheads, then entered the stadium. Every night the Cardinals have 1 or 2 players at each gate to sign autographs or take pictures. Breyvic Valera was signing at on of the gates.
We returned for Friday night's game right when the gates opened. Mike O'Neill was signing at one of the gates.
After we got Mayers auto, my son and I headed to the last gate to see who was signing there. As luck would have it, it was Alex Reyes. I was shocked to see no one was waiting for him. I guess people did not know who he is since he was wearing sunglasses and a pull over. He signed three more cards for me to go along with the 2 the night before.
After we left Reyes, we headed down by the first base line so Alex could get more autos on his ball. He got 12 autos total. I also got a few other cards signed.
Overall it was a great 2 nights at Springfield. My kids were a little disappointed we did not get to see the fireworks after Friday nights game. There was a rain delay in the 6th inning that lasted 1.5 hours. Having a 2 hour drive that night to get to our hotel, we left shortly after the rain started. It was a good thing too, because the game did not get over until 11:30. Springfield had a 2-1 lead going into the 9th inning, but gave up 7 runs and lost.