Sam Lidisky was 8 years old in 2002 and fully believed he was about to pitch on the mound at Busch Stadium.
Chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for a St. Louis Cardinals game, Lidisky marched out onto the field in his Belleville Khoury League uniform.
"We warmed up at the full distance, me and my dad in the back yard," said Lidisky, a left-handed pitcher and Althoff High School graduate headed for McKendree University. "I was only in second grade and trying to throw the full 60 feet, 6 inches. Then I got out there to throw out the first pitch and Fredbird only took me out halfway."
It was tough for Lidisky to be disappointed -- he was on the field at Busch Stadium being watched by the Cardinals and thousands of fans --but he finally will get his wish on Monday.
Lidisky and 24 other senior players from the metro-east will take on their St. Louis area counterparts at 1:15 p.m. Monday in the third annual PNC Bank High School Baseball Showcase presented by Rawlings.
Lidisky recalled a chat with his father following his last appearance on a large baseball stage, which was at old Busch Stadium.
"We both agreed that one day I'd be throwing from the full distance (at Busch), so it's pretty neat that I get to go back out there," he said.
So does Belleville East pitcher-first baseman Alex Siddle, a Southeast Missouri State recruit who has already been on the field at both the old and new Busch Stadiums.
"I walked around it when I was about 7 with the Khoury League team," Siddle said. "Three years ago our Junior Legion team won state and we got to go down on the field to watch them take BP (batting practice). That was fun."
On Monday, Siddle will be the one taking BP and trying to hit the ball into the bleachers during the all-stars skills competition.
Both the home-run derby and skills competition, which begin at 10 a.m. Monday, and the 1:15 p.m. game are free and open to the public.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny helped organize the inaugural event and served as an all-star manager the past two seasons. This year he will be watching his son, Cardinals draft pick and Missouri State University recruit Tate Matheny from Westminster Academy, play in the game.
The players also are being treated to an all-star breakfast in St. Louis on Sunday, then will be introduced on the field before the Cardinals game against the Kansas City Royals.
The 2012 all-star managers are Cardinals coach John Mabry and former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan. Duncan realizes the anxious feeling the all-star players are going through.
"Any time you get a chance as a high-school athlete to play in a pro facility like that it's going to be cool," said Duncan, now a baseball analyst and broadcaster for WXOS-FM 101.1 FM and Fox Sports Midwest. "Maybe it lights a fire under their butt and gives them more motivation to work hard and find a way to get there some day."
The Missouri all-stars have won the first two games in the series, but the score matters little in a showcase like this. It's about making dreams come true and getting the top senior talent in the St. Louis region on the same field at the same time.
"It's a great opportunity for these kids to get out there and play against the best competition and size themselves up with some of the better players in the area," Duncan said.
Among the future college players on the Illinois roster are Lidisky, Siddle, Edwardsville outfielder Derek Page (Eastern Illinois), O'Fallon pitcher Sam Hopkins (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), Columbia pitcher Drew Bicklein (Missouri-St. Louis), Triad catcher Dylan Johnson (McKendree), Triad infielder Andrew Range (Truman State), Wesclin first baseman Justin Groennert (Quincy).
Several others are headed for the junior college ranks along with Kaskaskia College recruit Joey Coonrod, a Carrollton High graduate.
Coonrod was 10-2 with a 0.28 ERA this spring. A year ago he helped lead his team to Class 1A state title as a junior along with his brother, Sam Coonrod, who now pitches for SIU Carbondale.
Four of the Missouri players were selected in the recent Major League draft. Lafayette's William DuPont, a Mississippi State recruit, was taken by Toronto in the 16th round. Tate Matheny, the son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, was selected by the Cardinals in the 23rd.
Parkway South's Daniel Holst, a Texas A&M recruit, went to Cleveland in the 31st round and Hazelwood Central's Jonathan Harris was drafted by Toronto in the 33rd round.
"My old teammate Pat McGlynn did this two years ago and he told me how awesome it was playing at Busch Stadium," Lidisky said. "If you're a die-hard baseball player ... wow. It's been my dream to go play there."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.