For this Throwback Thursday, we hang the black crepe and doff our red caps in memory of Busch Stadium II.
At 3 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, 2005, a 10,000-pound wrecking ball crashed down on the familiar ring of white arches that crowned Busch Memorial Stadium. Then it crashed down again. And again. And again.
A dozen blows later, the old baseball stadium roof finally yielded and concrete rubble tumbled down inside the shell. A puff of dust rose and the crowd began to cheer.
One Belleville resident used a little deception to get a good view.
Never miss a local story.
Everett Bovinette had hospital tests that morning and was still wearing the hospital bracelet when he pulled into the Stadium West parking garage. The garage roof offered the best views and was reserved for media and VIP’s.
“When I got to the garage, they asked to see my press armband and I showed them this,” Bovinette said, showing his hospital ID bracelet. “They said, ‘Go right ahead.’”Bovinette had a right to be there: He also witnessed demolition of the first Busch Stadium, which is what Sportsman’s Park was dubbed after the St. Louis Browns sold it in 1953 to Cards and brewery owner August A. Busch Jr. The first Busch Stadium closed after the 1966 season.
“I was there when they tore down Sportsman's Park, so I was definitely going to be there for this,” Bovinette said.
The Cardinals opened Busch Stadium II on May 12, 1966, with a 4-3 win over Atlanta. After hosting an All-Star game and six World Series, it closed on Oct. 2, 2005 with the Cards beating Cincinnati, 7-5.
Half of the new, 43,975-seat Busch Stadium III was already built in November 2005 between Interstate 64 and the old ballpark. The demolition continued around the clock for a week, with one wrecking crane going clockwise and the other counterclockwise, to make way for the rest of the new stadium and Ballpark Village.
Busch Stadium III opened April 10, 2006, with the Cards beating the Brewers 6-4, but with 5,700 fewer fans than the old stadium held. Ballpark Village opened this year.