ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals had their largest attendance this season last night at Busch Stadium.
They beat their archrivals, the Chicago Cubs, to take three of four games in the series.
For sure, having the Cubs in town will move the turnstiles, all the time.
But this town is different, in a league by itself.
It doesn’t need another team to make people care about baseball, come downtown dressed in red and be enthusiastic without even trying.
There isn’t a bigger baseball town in this country.
Sorry, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Detroit.
Without question, St. Louis is the baseball capital of the U.S.
In 2019, it had the second-best attendance in MLB, more than 42,000 a game. In 2007, averaged almost 49,000 a game. Before COVID, this team has drawn over three million a season every year since 1998.
Incredible for a TV market not even close to the Top 10 in this country. In fact, it is 21st. Cities like Sacramento and Orlando are bigger.
The best proof is that as NFL preseason camps are getting started everywhere, the people in this town could almost care less.
Remember, this is the city that ran not one, but two NFL franchises out of town.
First, the Cardinals left for Arizona. Few blinked. Then, the Rams came from L.A., won a Super Bowl, and still weren’t as beloved as the baseball Cardinals — returning to the West Coast in 2016.
It’s so different from most midwestern cities. People in Michigan die when it comes to football — college or pro. The same goes for Cleveland, where they live for Browns football. And as much as people love the Cubs in Chicago, their heart is equally shared with Da Bears.
But not St. Louis.
It’s about baseball — and the St. Louis Blues.
They probably would burn down the city if either franchise was taken away.
And the strange part is that this city cares little about the NBA, too. You would think that a city that can draw three million people to sit in the hot and humid sun of St. Louis in the summer, would be an ideal spot for an NBA team.
There are many cities in this country that support both the NBA and NHL. Often, they share the same arena.
But this town hasn’t had a professional basketball team since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.
The Spirit of St. Louis, folded and took the cat to go away and not join the NBA. While the city lost out, the smart owners signed an agreement to still get a cut of the league’s TV rights fees revenue forever. It amassed them more than $300 million before they finally agreed to a buyout of the deal by the NBA. That cost the league another $500 million payout.
Still, no one seems to care that Michael Jordan or LeBron James never came through town to play in a real NBA game. They never saw any of the greatest players in person.
Meanwhile, this town can’t get enough baseball. Some of the greatest players who ever played baseball wore the Cardinals red and white, including Stan Musial.
Out front of Busch Stadium, there are 10 statues of legendary players, including Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Rogers Hornsby and Ozzie Smith.
For a nice touch and out of mad respect, the Cards even have a statue of Cool Papa Bell, from the Negro Leagues. He never played for the Cardinals, but was a St. Louis Stars icon.
The franchise is filled with tradition and winning. Only the New York Yankees have won more World Series than the Cards.
They don’t operate as a small or medium market. They are always actively signing players and making trades to improve their chances of winning.
It’s really incredible because in reality, they can’t sell any more tickets.
Best of all, they appreciate great players — even players that left their organization for more green. Enter Albert Pujols. When the slugger came back with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, the St. Louis faithful cheered him like there was no tomorrow. Check it out on YouTube. It will give you goosebumps and convince you there is no better baseball town in these United States.