Saturday, February 20, 2010

Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis

This is part four of the Summer of '04 series, chronicling my first serious baseball road trip.

Monday, June 14

I drive from Lima, Ohio to Troy, Illinois (20 miles from St. Louis). It's been a fairly uneventful day so far. I'm definitely not going to get anything besides a Bud or Bud Light in this town.

Tomorrow's game will be the first ever regular season meeting between the Cardinals and the Athletics. It's a nice pitching match-up as well: Matt Morris vs. Barry Zito. Neither has pitched particularly well this year, but I still consider it to be compelling. I predict one of them will throw a gem.

I spend the evening in Maryville, at a sports bar called the Fireside Inn, after eating a tremendous country style dinner—roasted pork w/ stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and bread—for $6.90 (tax included) at a family restaurant called the Red Apple. I drink six Budweisers, for $1.75 each, at the bar, and chat with a nice, attractive bartender about Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals, rents in Boston compared to St. Louis, etc. She gives me directions to the nearest MetroLink station—“it’s like the T,” she tells me—so I think I'll go that route tomorrow, rather than drive to St. Louis.

I believe I decided on this trip, just as I did four years later, that St. Louis has the best looking women of all the mid-western cities I've visited.

Tuesday, June 15
I receive three phone calls from the front desk this morning...yes, I'm staying another night. Yes, I understand that you left the charges open yesterday! Yes, today I will pay for both nights!! This is the cheapest rate of the trip so far, at $38.85 per night, including tax.

I also recently unearthed the journal I kept during the cross-country trip that two of my college buddies and I took after graduation. Had I been writing this entry then—or had the 22-year old version of me been on this trip—I probably would have written something offensive about the people running this motel. But, this is 15 years later, and I had matured quite a bit.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel...this place seems a bit overrated. The food is pretty good, but not a great value.

There seemed to be a lot of emphasis on value for my money on this trip.

I take the MetroLink into St. Louis. The bartender's directions are perfect. Only eight stops and I'm right outside Busch Stadium. I check out the area, take pictures of the arch, but don't go up—been there, done that—and stop for a couple beers at a bar called Pitcher's, where I talk to a Syracuse native who's a lifelong Cardinals fan. One of the beers I drink is a St. Louis brewed Schlafly Pale Ale: "A rich, amber-colored, medium-bodied, British-style ale with a smooth, mild hop character."

I'm not sure if that quote was written on the bottle, or if I later looked it up on their web site, but I certainly didn't write it myself, because here's what comes next:

Note to self: when ordering microbrews from towns not known for good beer, go for IPAs because if they're not good, at least they'll be strong and hoppy. Standard pale ales tend to be lame.

Interestingly enough, Schlafly's was one of the breweries briefly mentioned in the Beer Wars movie. This was the only time I've had any of their beers, and apparently I wasn't impressed. Note also that I referred to St. Louis as a town not known for good beer. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone.

I enter Busch Stadium in time for batting practice, and end up talking to a couple who are A's fans. I take their picture, and they take mine. They're really nice people, and we find a connection in that we're all previous residents of upstate New York. She once lived in Watertown, and he's from Schenectady.

Charles Simone at Busch Stadium

On deck: The Long Cut


  1. Note also that I referred to St. Louis as a town not known for good beer. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone.
    It's not? That comes as a major surprise to me. I mean, I only live here and have the option to try every beer currently being brewed in St. Louis and I think some of the beer here is pretty fantastic.

    But then again, I don't rely on a single beer from a single brewery to make my judgment. I also don't base my opinion on the fact that a single very large brewery made it's home here.

    But I'm sure you also judge Denver and Milwaukee with the same disdain. Tell you what, next time you roll through town, look me up and I'll show you what great beer is available here.


  2. Its home. Its home. Should have proofread that.

  3. Certainly didn't mean to insult your home town, Mike. The reason I said it shouldn't come as a major surprise to anyone is that I just got finished bashing Anheuser Busch in the post prior to this one. I also wrote that over five years ago and was just making that comment about it now.

    But, I don't consider St. Louis to be a town known for good beer, because I'm pretty up to speed on the craft beer industry, and I don't know of anything particularly fantastic from your neck of the woods. However, just because a place isn't known for good beer doesn't mean there aren't exceptions. So, I tell you what. Why don't you make some recommendations?

    As far as the other two locales you referred to are concerned, Colorado is probably one of the top five states in this country for good beer, so I don't judge that area negatively because of Coors. On the other hand, I've tried quite a few beers from Wisconsin, and nothing was very memorable. So, despite what you're suggesting, I'm not making snap judgments about these areas based on limited experience.