2009 All-Star Game at Busch likely

It looks like the Cardinals will get two seasons to work all the kinks out of the new Busch Stadium before holding its first All-Star Game. Previously, it was thought that the Cardinals might get the 2008 contest. But, now that the 2006 and 2007 All-Star Games have been awarded to Pittsburgh and San Francisco, both in the National League, the Cardinals will probably have to wait for the American League to get their turn next.

As a result, the Cardinals have staked their place in line to host the 2009 game. That suits them just fine.

"That's probably the most likely scenario," said Chairman and General Partner Bill DeWitt Jr. "That will give us a couple of years to build up the Ballpark Village as a showcase rather than right after the new stadium opens. I think that (Ballpark Village) is going to be a great feature."

Commissioner Bud Selig had previously told the Cardinals they would either be awarded the 2008 or 2009 Game. It will be the first All-Star Game to be held in the Gateway City since 1966.

1966 was a game to remember and for some, to forget. Unfortunately, the temperature at game-time was 105 degrees. Not surprisingly, the Busch medical staff were busier than the players, attending to the many affected by the heat. The Cardinals had three players named to the squad – outfielder Curt Flood, pitcher Bob Gibson and his batterymate Tim McCarver. The National League prevailed by a 2-1 tally in ten innings.

The previous Busch Stadium, sometimes called Busch I, played host to the 1957 All-Star Game. That is remembered by many as the year of the infamous Cincinnati fan ballot box stuffing fiasco. The Cardinals had four representatives in that contest, won by the American League by the score of 6-5. They were pitcher Larry Jackson, who tossed two scoreless innings, outfielder Wally Moon, first baseman Stan Musial and catcher Hal Smith, who did not play. Red Schoendienst also appeared, but he was a member of the Milwaukee Braves at the time.

Sportsman's Park also held the 1940 and 1948 mid-summer classics, making the 2009 tilt to be the fifth ever in St. Louis. Overall, the All-Star outcomes decided on St. Louis soil are currently deadlocked at two games each for the AL and NL.

The 1948 team sported five Cardinals – pitcher Harry Brecheen, shortstop Marty Marion, outfielder Enos Slaughter, plus Musial and Schoendienst. Marion missed the game due to injury and Brecheen did not pitch. Musial and Slaughter started. Stan the Man's two-run home run in the first inning plated the only National League runs as the American League won 5-2.

In the 1940 All-Star Game, only outfielder Terry Moore and first baseman Johnny Mize represented the Cardinals. Both started in the contest, in which their NL squad prevailed by the score of 4-0.

It still counts… too much…

On a related topic, the controversial two-year experiment that awards the World Series home-field advantage to the winning league in the All-Star Game is expected to be quietly extended.

You may recall the associated marketing slogan, "This time it counts". The problem is that it counts too much now. Such an important factor as home field advantage should be earned by the participating teams on the field, not in some exhibition whose outcome could be decided by a Colorado Rockies pitcher throwing to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays hitter.

AP reports contributed to this story.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net

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