Almanac (Sports) Travel: St. Louis – Land of Blues, Reds, Brews and MACs.



So about a week ago Lachie and I depart Tulla for Belleville Illinois USA en route to Missouri (across the Mississipi River) for his study-play (basketball) four year college adventure at Lindenwood (University).


We ventured into a city so called the homicide capital of the nation – but as yet the only firearms we’ve seen are adorned on the hips of the St Louis and County Police.


Now, just like the world over, danger lurks at every turn and it’s fair to say there seems to be more hoods than other cities I’ve seen and walking from downtown out to Soulard for some blues there’s a section of uninviting no mans land. Seems like there’s been trenches and all.


But the Footy Almanac deserves something sporting and we won’t be denied – nor your readers – downtown is a beautifully old city that over several poor economic cycles sees many an old building in disrepair and vacant with the masses taking to the counties to live and work – so downtown has vast side walks and once rivalled Chicago, but alas those are forgotten years.


But wait, the Blues – no not the music though that’s ample and if the highest quality – the hockey team won the Stanley Cup – flags are still waving.


Yesterday the city announced a new national soccer franchise and a $220m stadium to be built at Union Station.


The convention centre just behind MACs hosts rodeo and monster trucks – fortunately none of those on at present though we had been embraced last week by 35,000 love-spreading Jehovah’s Witnesses who delighted all with their dress style – and was it stylish, though probably back in the 1800s – but live they spread and I feel all gushy.


But back to the centre – world wrestling champ or CEO Vince McMahon has just started a rival NFL league featuring teams from cities that once had an NFL team so you guessed it – good ole St Louis is getting one.


I’ve been digressing all over the place but giddy with religion I should explain the Missouri Athletic Club (The MAC) where  I’ve taken up digs and more than amply worn elbow grooves in the bar – welcomed as the resident Aussie/international honorary member. Those who know me know you’ll find the same of me at the North Fitzroy Arms/a habit that stands you in good stead, at least in the early part of the evening – but back to the bar where you’ll meet the best in people and that’s been true here.


Brad and Brian from Major Brands, an alcohol distribution company that represents a number of  Aussie labels and just about every other big name from across the globe became good drinking buddies and asked if we d been to a Cardinals game. Alas we had not, so 15 minutes later they’d called the Cardinals and from a sold out crowd they secured three seats and concession (food beverage venue tickets) for us. So down we venture to collect our tickets from Will Call outside Stand Usual.


I thought those were odd instructions but assumed everyone would know Will. Turns out of course that Will Call is the ticket booth and I ask about Stand Usual so I act as casual as I can looking at ease in my stance. The good man gatekeeper points upwards not to the heavens and not to the stands but of a majestically sculptured bronze statue of Stan Musial a .330 something at bat over 30 years with the Cardinals – as revered as Bradman


So we’re having a bit of difficulty with the Missourian marbles in mouth pronunciations just as a few have asked me what language we were speaking.


The Cardinals took on the Brewers for too spot in the conference but top of the first innings and the Brewers had 4 homers on the board – a lead the Cardinals couldn’t pull back.



The razzmatazz of the night where the game takes three hours and the stands electric (not just the plethora of neon)  but the fans with chants, claps and the announcer urging more music symbolic of the local batter swaggering to the plate made for a ripping evening despite the game called off after 8 innings due to storms.


We were recommended to buy our requisite dogs from a concession outside Gate 3 and take them in (good on the MCG) at $4 each as opposed the stands at $10 (coincidentally the cost of a beer inside – outside is about $2 with a few pennies, they’ve still got em despite costing $.02 to make – now that’s a progressive industry) maybe Trumpy will get around to getting rid of them as loss leaders – not sure where they’d lead you to but they fill your pockets and a guy of my size doesn’t need the extra pounds.


The game was interesting throughout with stats boards all over the joint but by the 5th I’d reached the conclusion that they were missing the most important stat for base runs (much like a footy clanger or turnover or whatever other crapola the footy commentators have come up with), most base runs were scored by opposition error not athleticism or cunning just good old-fashioned  mistakes though the crowd were incredibly forgiving of their stars unlike Aussie fans and laughed not jeered at the oppo errors.


We debunked the usual stand back to the MAC took up elbow room and regaled the locals of our adventures in my newly bought Cardinal shirt – I was even more welcomed.


Now before I move to the next chapter in our journey let me explain the MAC – a 120 year old institution in a ripping old building my digs on the 9th of 10 floors and the gym including 3 different cavernous Wright rooms, an indoor pool and what Lachie used every day their own basketball court on 5.


So the club was set up before the 1904 St. Louis Olympics but a group of chaos that thought and were correct that if they had an athletics club they could be directly involved and so they were.


Take a squizz at their logo in my pics (see below) and see if you can guess any connections.


Now at reception and Max the Grumpy will love this, there’s a cigar stand but alas no Cubans – I wondered why as I didn’t see anyone outside smoking when I first arrived and I knew from other venues that  smoking had been banned inside for about 10 -15 years except for the MAC. The city lords ventured into the MAC with infringement notices in hand every day for the first week of prohibition but the good folk of the MAC which included and still does the judiciary tore up the notices and dispatched them with match in hand – so the MAC is and remains the house of cigars. Bliss.


So tick for baseball – two boys happily in teasing camp at uni and sitting by myself wallowing in bacon and eggs two guys hear me chatting to the trio of sisters that run the best and original city diner Chili Macs and what do you know – we’re off to the NASCAR races tomorrow night and invited into the pits as part of the adventure.


I’ll report on the Vroom or the pits later.


Go Cardinals
Steve Earl


Steve Earl is a long-term supporter and patron of the Almanac.






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A Fitzroy resident keen on local content sports and the offbeat. Community first, after the good family of course.

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