Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

THE BIG STAGE; for Cardinals' Rookies Experiencing Their First Opening Day at Busch, This Is Something Altogether Different; BUSCH STADIUM OPENING DAY

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

THE BIG STAGE; for Cardinals' Rookies Experiencing Their First Opening Day at Busch, This Is Something Altogether Different; BUSCH STADIUM OPENING DAY

Article excerpt

Some of them have seen a version thereof in the minors, but the Cardinals rookies who will be part of the team's lavish home opener ceremonies today will have an eyeful and earful, for that matter that they won't soon forget.

There will be world-famous Clydesdales, a sextet of Hall of Famers, a procession of vehicles circling the outfield track and continuing toward home plate, with its occupants waving and slapping hands when close enough. All this while a typical fan in the typical Busch Stadium sellout crowd points and screams and laughs and probably cries when he realizes that late Hall of Famer Stan Musial, the closing act, isn't going to be driven in from the right-field wagon gate in his customary golf cart.

Depending on whether infielder Ryan Jackson, the replacement for injured David Freese, still is here, there either could be five or six Cardinals players seeing their first opening day in St. Louis. All saw many other days here last year as in-season call-ups and all contributed to the Cardinals' surprising run to a plateau one win shy of a second straight World Series appearance.

Shortstop Pete Kozma, a late-season star as the replacement for injured Rafael Furcal, might be the only one of this group who actually will be starting the 3:10 p.m. game against the Cardinals' new most bitter rivals, the Cincinnati Reds.

A couple of seasons ago, Kozma was part of an opening day ceremony at Class AA Springfield where the players were brought into the park on trucks.

"I got a little bit of an idea," said Kozma, "but I don't think it was anything compared to the big-league level. This will be pretty memorable." Reliever Trevor Rosenthal had gone through the Springfield experience last year. "You get a feel for it, but it's obviously not the same (as the Cardinals)," said Rosenthal.

"I'm definitely excited for it. It sounds like a cool experience. I'm sure it's a lot to go through but I'm fortunate to be a part of it." The veterans like the ceremony, too. Even those who have been traded away, like the Cincinnati Reds' Ryan Ludwick. …

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