The Sports Daily > Cards Diaspora
Erika’s Spring Training 2010 Confidential

Ed Note: Since I’ve been using Twitter, I’ve come across some pretty serious Cardinal fans. They generally follow my page because I’m wearing a Cardinals shirt in my profile pic. They usually unfollow me when I start talking about taco helmets and Chat Roulette.

For whatever reason, Erika., our special contributor today, has decided that she can tolerate my garbage OR more likely she hasn’t figured out how to block me. So when I asked her to detour from her trip to Jupiter this spring to go a museum tour this guy reached out to the CD about- she said yes. Then I asked her to take pics and write a story. She again said yes.

She’s a saint. And she needs to knock it off with that Aaron stuff. My mom doesn’t even call me that anymore.

Below is her story. And I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to end Spring Training 2010 then give you guys an exclusive look at Erika’s trip for the CD. I hope you enjoy. And follow her HERE if you’re on Twitter. Thanks Erika… PS- Kick Ass Photos too!!!

First, a disclaimer:  I am not a writer and have no aspirations of becoming one.  However I am obsessed with baseball, Cardinals baseball.  So, when Aaron asked if I would be interested in taking a tour of a new baseball exhibit in FL for him during my trip to Spring Training and bringing him back some information to write about it, I jumped at the chance.  Free admission and a behind-the-scenes tour of a BASEBALL museum?!?  Of course I’d do it!

The baseball exhibit at the Elliott Museum in Stuart, FL is ‘almost’ on the way to a Cardinals’ away game at the Mets’ Spring Training field, about 45 minutes from Jupiter. Even on a day without a baseball game to attend, the trip would be worthwhile as Stuart’s town square has great little shops, restaurants and a beautiful beach (which shares a parking lot with the museum!) But back to the important stuff:  baseball.

The exhibit is small, but it packs a punch.  It focuses on Florida’s contribution to the game, featuring  backgrounds on  the area’s Spring Training camps.  Histories of local players who made it to the Big Leagues are told through photos, stories and memorabilia. Any baseball fan could find a treasure from their favorite players or teams here with over 600 autographed baseball cards, wonderfully displayed and cataloged to  make it easy to find who you are looking for.  Plus there are more than 200 balls signed by baseball’s elite, such as Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Nolan Ryan, Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra.  You can see bats owned by Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, and a Shoeless Joe Jackson bat is lurking in their backroom, waiting for the proper display case (preservation issues).  There are big plans for a new facility and growth of the exhibit over the next couple of years too.   So, if you are in Florida, stop by the Elliott museum and check out their gem of a baseball exhibit.

And if you haven’t been to Spring Training to cheer on the Cardinals, you must make plans for 2011.  It is Baseball Heaven! Last year was my first trip, and it was wonderful.  This year, armed with more experience and more information, the adventure got even better!  We wandered around the practice fields in the mornings to watch fielding drills and batting practice.  We saw Wainwright hamming it up at bp when he smacked one over the fence and then took a bow for the small cheering crowd in the bleachers.  Albert’s son AJ was playing catch with the bullpen.  TLR & Dunc met with the entire pitching staff on the field while we all hung on the fence to catch the conversation.  And the highlight for every fan: autographs!  Players are much more accessible at Spring Training.  After practice,  Kyle Lohse and AdamWainwright signed balls and took pictures with us, talking with the crowd, and  just joking around. We all cracked up when Adam was asked to hold a baby for a photo.  He said “sure, I love kids,” and then turned around and left, pretending to walk off with the little one.  The players seem more relaxed and enjoy the interaction with the fans.  After all, it’s only Spring Training.  So, even if your ace blows the game or your superstar is out with a bad back, it doesn’t really count… not yet. 

Roger Dean Stadium is a beautiful little ballpark.  The atmosphere is fun & laid back, the weather was beautiful and the players were so close, you could touch them.  (But my husband made me promise not to do that.)  There is no denying that watching a Cardinals game at Roger Dean is different from at Busch Stadium.  To experience the start of baseball, the windy FL breezes, the AAA guys battling for the last bench spots, and our big money boys getting their bats and gloves warmed up for the season, there is no place like Spring Training at Roger Dean. 

We went to four Spring Training games this year.  The Cardinals won all four.  And the next day (after I left), we lost to the Nationals!?!   I was told that I just might be a good luck charm for our Cardinals.  So, if the fans (or the front office for that matter) want to kick in the cash to pay for me to attend all 162 Cardinals games this year as the Official Lucky Charm, I will happily volunteer — for the good of the team.

And I’ve included some pictures from Spring Training to share with you, because if there is one thing that I love as much as Cardinals baseball, it is taking photos of Cardinals players.  Spring Training is wonderful for us amateur photographers.  We can get close enough to get the good shots. 

Thanks again to Aaron, for passing along the opportunity to visit the museum.  It was a great side-adventure to my trip to Baseball Heaven.