Cheap Seats

New video boards are great - but I’d like to see one game at Busch Stadium without them

I’ll be interested to see the much talked about new scoreboard at Busch Stadium in a couple of months.

I agree that the old displays needed to be replaced. In the short 10 years the new ballpark has been open, technology has changed quite a bit. So the old displays looked oddly out of place in an otherwise state of the art ballpark.

The St. Louis Cardinals were in the ironic position of lagging behind the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field on the scoreboard scorecard. So they had to do something. Wrigley Field jumped 40 years last season, going from being the last park in the majors to add a video screen to installing a giant, obnoxious high definition display in left field.

I know scoreboards are part of the deal when it comes to professional sports these days. The fans want to see instant replays and the between innings entertainment and the teams want you to see a steady stream of money-making advertisements. But, if there was anything I liked about Wrigley Field it was the fact that it didn’t have a scoreboard.

I’d love, just once, to go to a game at Busch Stadium and see a game presented the way it was in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. No video board, no walk up music. Just the announcer calling the name of the batter as he makes his way to the plate.

It’s not that the music offends me in some way. I’d just like to experience a ballgame the old fashioned way.

Things changed very subtly over the years. But they’ve changed a lot. There are so many distractions that sometimes the game almost seems like an afterthought.

The natural sound of a full ballpark is amazing. One of my favorite reasons to listen to games on the radio is for the sound of the crowd. You almost don’t need the play by play. You can hear what’s going on by the reaction of the audience.

It reminds me of laying in my bed listening to west coast games from Candlestick Park and Dodgers Stadium in my room when I was a kid, imagining the scene and what it would be like to be there with a hot dog in my hand.

You can get a little bit of that experience going to a minor league game. But it’s not the same without the giant, major league crowd.

So I’d love it if one time a year the Cardinals played an afternoon game under the sun instead of the lights without the music, the commercials and the contests. Just the sound of 50,000 people in the seats, the vendors selling their beer and peanuts and the crack of the bat.

It would be a great day to wear throwback uniforms.

The one bells and whistles type thing I miss at the ballpark is the old neon display in which the Cardinal perched on a baseball on the scoreboard took flight when the home team hit a home run.

The Cardinals briefly tried to recreate that feature of old Busch Stadium, which fell victim to the first installation of a video board at Busch Stadium II, in centerfield. But that was obscured after a short time by a soda advertisement and eventually went away altogether.

Maybe the team will be able to recreate the flying Cardinal on their giant new scoreboard.

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