ST. LOUIS — Baseball will be served up in heaping helpings this weekend in St. Louis.
The popular St. Louis Cardinals' 17th annual Winter Warm-Up will unfold a few blocks from Busch Stadium. It's the team's major offseason activity, and it typically begins the countdown to spring training for players and fans alike.
Fans can collect autographs, ask questions of General Manager John Mozeliak, receive an update on the Cardinals' red-hot minor-league system with Farm Director John Vuch, learn about the unpredictable science of drafting with Director of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz and hear from Bill DeWitt III, the team president.
"Winter Warm-Up is our favorite way to bring together players and fans as we work to care for kids in the community," said Belleville native Michael Hall, the Cardinals' vice president of community relations and executive director of Cardinals Care. "Not only is the event a fun-filled weekend with something for everyone to enjoy, our fans are helping us make a real difference throughout Cardinal Nation."
Here's what you need to know if you're attending:
When and where is the Warm-Up?
The fanfest is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. For the fourth consecutive year, the Warm-Up will be held at Hyatt Regency at The Arch, 1315 Chestnut in downtown St. Louis.
How much does it cost?
Three-days passes for fans ages 16 and older are available for $40 at the Busch Stadium Cardinals Team Store, area Cardinals Clubhouse stores or at the event's autograph and admission sales table on the second floor of the hotel. It's cheaper for kids; three-day passes are $10 for fans between 5 and 15. Kids under 5 are free.
Any admission deals to be had?
If you are a member of the military or work for a fire or police department, you can receive one free adult pass while supplies remain. A valid ID must be presented.
Is Yadier Molina attending?
Molina, easily the Cardinals' most popular player, is scheduled to sign autographs from noon to 2 p.m. Monday. Molina will not appear at the 55th annual BBBWAA Dinner on Sunday night at the Millennium.
What players will be at the Warm-Up?
Take your pick. In addition to Molina, the list includes Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Jake Westbrook, Matt Carpenter, David Freese, Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica, Shelby Miller, Fernando Salas, Jaime Garcia, Tony Cruz, Matt Adams, Marc Rzepczynski, Pete Kozma, Joe Kelly, Daniel Descalso, newcomer Randy Choate, top prospect Oscar Taveras and Michael Wacha, one of their top pitching prospects. Manager Mike Matheny and former manager Tony La Russa also will attend the event.
Is it too late to get an autograph ticket?
Yes and no. Autograph tickets to many front-line players were sold out over the Internet, including Molina, Beltran, Holliday, Craig, Jay, Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Chris Carpenter, Freese, Descalso, Miller, Kelly, Taveras, Rzepczynski and Rosenthal. Autograph tickets to La Russa also are sold out. However, many autograph tickets remain for other players and will be on sale in the hotel.
Are any autographs available without an autograph ticket?
Yes. Several signatures will be free. On that list are Danny Cox, Jason Simontacchi, Kerry Robinson, Joe Magrane, Cal Eldred, Rick Horton, Ken Reitz, Curt Ford, Ken Dayley, Tom Lawless, Scott Cooper, Glenn Brummer, Cliff Politte, Al Hrabosky, John Costello, Jim Donohue, Phil Gagliano, Neil Fiala, Mike Jorgensen and Ted Savage.
Who benefits from the Winter Warm-Up?
Children in St. Louis and the metro-east. Proceeds are donated to Cardinals Care, which was formed in 1987 and has raised $18 million, including $11 million in grants, for more than 800 non-profit kids organizations.
Will it be crowded?
Fans who have attended the Winter Warm-Up in the past know the answer to this. Yes. The attendance for the three days of fun typically is between 10,000 and 12,000.
Can I park near the hotel?
Yes, there are plenty of garages within easy walking distance to Hyatt Regency at The Arch. Some street parking can be found --if you're lucky. The hotel has a parking garage with valet service. The best advice is to attend the Warm-Up as if you're going to a game.
Can I view a complete schedule of events and the signing times for all players?
Yes. Go to www.cardinals.com/winterwarmup.
Can I brink food and drink?
No. If you're going to be at the Warm-Up for several hours, arrive with a full belly. Food and drinks are available at the Warm-Up, but you'll need to dig deep into your pockets if you want something.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.