ST. LOUIS — Former St. Louis Cardinal Ozzie Smith is attempting to make Opening Day a national holiday.
But the Hall of Fame shortstop and Cardinals fans know Opening Day in St. Louis already is considered at least the equal of other holidays, which makes Monday perhaps the most special occasion of the year for many people as baseball returns to Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals (3-3) will play the Cincinnati Reds (2-4) at 3:15 p.m. And although rain is in the forecast, nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of fans who persevered a miserable winter to once again hear the umpire order, "Play ball!"
Following is a user's guide for Opening Day at the ballpark, the ninth at Busch Stadium III:
*The Cardinals will dedicate their new Hall of Fame and Museum at 10 a.m. in the recently opened Ballpark Village. The ceremony is closed to the public, but will later be broadcast to fans on the stadium scoreboard and will be shown on the big-screen TV in Ballpark Village.
* The Cardinals' official pep rally, sponsored by Hardee's, will be held in the Ballpark Village parking lot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cover band Trixie Delight will provide the entertainment.
*Gates to the stadium open at 1:15 p.m. All fans 21 and over will receive a Budweiser Magnet Schedule.
*The on-field pregame ceremonies begin at 2:30 p.m., with the famous Budweiser Clydesdales circling the field. Cardinals Hall of Famers, including recently elected manager Tony La Russa, will be dressed in red blazers. They will be led by a 1964 Ford Mustang and will ride in 2014 Ford Mustang convertibles.
*All current players will follow the Hall of Famers onto the field in 2014 Ford F-150 Raptors, part of the popular annual motorcade.
* Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon and former players Jim Edmonds and Danny Cox will be introduced with past Cardinals' NL championship trophies, and the NL Championship banner from 2013, the Cardinals' 19th, will be raised in the outfield.
*Recently retired right-hander Chris Carpenter, now a member of the front office, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
*The national anthem will be performed by Curtis Finch Jr., a St. Louisan who finished 10th on "American Idol" last season.
* The start time of the game is 3:15 p.m., when Michael Wacha will deliver the first pitch of the season. Wacha will be opposed by Cincinnati left-hander Tony Cingrani.
Busch Stadium has undergone some changes since the end of last season. New sod has been placed, 46 of the 63 luxury suites have been redesigned and a manual strikeout-counter board has been installed behind Section 172 so fans can place a giant "K" on the board after every strikeout by a Cardinals pitcher.
The center field Bud Light Bar and Chill was converted into the Budweiser 1876 Bar, and the Captain's Corner in the left-field pavilion is now the Rita Cabana, where Bud Light's Lime-a-Rita and Straw-ber-Rita will be sold.
On the menu
Delaware North Companies Sportservice, the Cardinals' concessionaire for more than 50 years, has broadened its menu to include pastrami dogs and flatbread pizza. The new Island Grill outside Section 142 will offer fish tacos, crab cake sliders and a shrimp po' boy.