By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The biggest difference between a Super Bowl game and a World Series game is simple.
The majority of the fans at the latter care. They have a vested interest in how the game or series turns out after supporting their team in their city all season long. At a Super Bowl, probably 80 or 90 percent of the spectators are neutral and don’t get wound up either way unless something spectacular happens or they have strong feelings against one of the teams. That was the feeling I came away with in January 1982 when I covered Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac.
Now, more than 30 years later, we were sitting up in the nosebleed section 369 — down in foul territory and maybe 30 feet to the foul side of the left-field foul pole.
One of the neighbors in that seating area had grown up in Kansas City, moved to St. Louis after her college days and now lives in Austin, Texas. Still, it meant enough to her to pay $610 for her ticket to Game 4 of the World Series. She had bought the ticket four days earlier.
She tried to pull her St. Louis Cardinals through to a victory, but her intensity wasn’t enough. The Cardinals lost 4-2, at home in Busch Stadium. The final out coming on a pickoff of a St. Louis base runner at first base Sunday night.
Other people paid more for a ticket, probably a lot more. Internet prices called for more than $7,000 per seat behind home plate. Prices also change quickly in other areas. Once, the World Series opponents were set and the game dates established, our neighbor said the airline cost per ticket to St. Louis from Dallas, Texas, went up $200 a seat.
The couple in front of us tried to buy tickets online through the Cardinal website. They didn’t land seats in the first round of sales, but their names went into the second round. They took the offer for about $225 per ticket. They basically said it’s worth trying to buy tickets that way because then you are in line for the next set of ticket sales.
They opted to pick up regular tickets at the box office, came down Saturday and received the originals instead of printing off an internet version. While waiting to complete the sale, they heard out-of-towners around them who had come in and were trying to buy seats through the ticket office. Needless to say, those tickets were already long gone, and they were still standing around hoping.
Is a World Series game worth attending? Yes, but a person has to be able to adjust. It means paying $30 to park on the seventh floor of a parking garage, but that’s cheaper than the $40 garage a half-block away. Beers will run a person $9 from a vendor or $12.50 at a concession stand in a souvenir cup.
It also means the pizza being sold in the stadium is long gone by the end of the second inning, and the chicken tenders basket is $13.75. We did say the game programs cost $15 each? No, well that’s the price for either a St. Louis-oriented cover or one with both World Series teams mentioned on the cover. We opted for the St. Louis-oriented cover.
Yet, for me, the game had the feeling of my first major league game back in 1958. I went to that game in Detroit with my grandmother and uncle, both New York Yankee fans, and walked out a winner when the Tigers and Frank Lary came away with a 3-2 victory.
Years later, I asked a former Spring Lake resident, the late Jack Tighe who managed the Tigers that day, if he remembered that game? Jack said “No, just a lot of losses.”
Jump ahead 55 years, and I’m at a baseball game again. Only this time it’s in a different city, in a new stadium and with my son. It would have been nice to have seen the Cardinals win, but in a lot of ways it didn’t matter. It was the first World Series game for both of us, and we enjoyed every minute of it in our first visit to the stadium for both of us.
Instead, we’ll take away memories like these. Standing in the line to enter the stadium, looking over and seeing former major league star Hank Aaron walk by to enter the stadium through another entrance.
Why was he there? Because in pregame ceremonies, he handed out his “Hank Aaron Award” for the American League to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. It was nice to be there for that when it occurs at your first World Series game, and that’s what happened. We’ll always remember the game for that reason.