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And I use the word "crowd" loosely

April 04, 2008

And I use the word "crowd" loosely

Although a big deal has been made of the fact that new Busch Stadium didn't sell out for the first time in its history Wednesday... and again on Thursday... the crowd of just shy of 40,000 Wednesday and about 33,000 the next day was a far cry from the worst attendance days since the Redbirds moved to downtown St. Louis in 1966.

According to the Cardinals media guide, the team drew only 1,519 on Sept. 14, 1989, a game that was a makeup for a rainout the day before. The Cardinals announced after midnight that the game rained out on the 13th would be replayed just a few hours later -- on a Thursday afternoon -- making it the worst attended game in the history of Busch Stadium II.

To make matters worse, according to newspaper reports at the time, there was a fire across the street in the Cupples Station warehouses, shrouding the stadium in a spooky fog. Manager Whitey Herzog was quoted as saying that the atmosphere was "like a graveyard with lights."

Despite the bad day, the Cardinals went on to draw a then record of 3.08 million for a single season in 1989.

The second smallest crowd --3,380 -- came against the Mets on Sept. 27, 1972.

The Cardinals won the game 4-0, but fans were turned off by a 75-81 4th place finish that caused the team to finish 21.5 games out of first and a strike that delayed the start of the season. The team drew less than 1.2 million fans, fewer than any other season besides 1981 -- the year a strike in the middle of the season cut the year short and stole a division title from the team.

The other three smallest crowds came during the depths of the Cardinals' late 1970s dark ages:

3,912 on Sept. 21, 1978

4,397 on Sept. 26, 1977

4,504 on Sept. 30, 1978

In 1977, the Cardinals were 83-79 and finished third at 18 games back. The following year things went from bad to worse when the Redbirds went 69-93 to finish fifth at 21 games out.

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