Winter Warm Up – Sunday

Img_2873I arrived at my first Winter Warm Up around midday and
caught a presentation by Ted Savage (left). I
had not heard of Ted, but he told us he was from East St Louis and had played in the big
leagues from 1960 – 1973 on 8 different teams, including the Cardinals. Ted’s talk was very appropriate for MLK
weekend, as he revealed he is writing a book that will tell the truth about
racial prejudice and segregation in baseball in his era.

Ted’s stories were sad and eye-opening, but he had a sense
of humor, too. He described being forced to stay in a
funeral home on his first trip to Spring Training, where the hazing involved
someone putting a dead body on top of him while he slept. He then talked about playing in the minor
leagues, where he and his family had to stay with two other players and their
families in a shared attic divided only by bed sheets. The landlord chastised
them for using too much water and asked them to synchronize their bathroom
times to cut down on flushes. He said
that managers frequently addressed him by the N-word, and that he once was
leading the league in several categories but only offered a league minimum
contract of $6,500 because the manager told him “white boys need more money than
black boys.”

Ted’s funniest and most hard-to-believe story involved
August A. Busch II. Once on a road trip,
Gussie had approached him while he was hanging out with Lou Brock and Curt
Flood and offered to give them a ride to a hotel. They informed Gussie they were staying in the
‘hood – not at the same hotel as the white players because that hotel didn’t
allow blacks. Gussie was outraged and told them he would be back shortly and
would fix the situation. He returned and
told them they would now be staying in the same hotel with the white players because
he had bought the hotel! I enjoyed Ted’s
talk and hope he does write the book.

Img_2888
I walked around a bit, checking out the memorabilia booths,
the silent auction items, the children’s game area, and the main
auditorium. This room was kind of a zoo,
as the overflowing autograph lines blocked off access to the seating area in
front of the stage. The volunteers did
their best to herd people, but it was just a huge crowd of Cardinal fans, which
made things a bit claustrophobic.

I’m not really into autographs, nor am I into waiting on
line all day, so I passed on the opportunities to meet the players. I was still
able to get some good photos from outside the Six-Flags-type lines. On Sunday, I saw Colby Rasmus, Tony La Russa,
Randy Flores, Scott Spiezio, Braden Looper, Todd Worrell, and Chris Duncan
amongst others. Many of the players
would take a turn on stage and get interviewed by the KTRS broadcasters who
were broadcasting live. Colby talked briefly about how he was looking forward to his second trip
to Spring Training with the knowledge that he had a good shot to make the
team. He mentioned that Jim Edmonds had
been a good mentor to him when they played together last Spring.

Img_2906
Mark Lamping talked about the baseball village project,
saying it was moving forward but probably wouldn’t be completed in time for the
2009 All Star game. He also defended the Edmonds deal, stating that Edmonds
had requested a trade, the team got a legitimate prospect for him, and bristled
at the allegation from a fan that the move was a salary dump.

I attended fellow MLblogger Matthew Leach’s talk, which was
also quite interesting. Leach talked about his daily routine as the Cardinals’
beat writer for mlb.com. He talked about
being patient and allowing players to get comfortable with him, and how this
had been necessary in his relationships with Carpenter and Edmonds. Regarding the Rolen and La Russa feud, he felt there were wrongs on both
sides, a basic personality clash, and that the outcome of Rolen being traded
was really the only solution. Leach also said that last year was his best year
so far in working with Pujols, who had come to accept his role as the public
face of the team.

I had a fun day at the Warm Up, meeting other die-hard Cards
fans, seeing the players, and getting fired up for the season.

Check out my photo album for lots more Winter Warm Up pics.

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