Masks Up; Batter Up

Busch Stadium reopened with restrictions to spectators for baseball season


Media by Joe Wiegert

Busch Stadium reopened for the start of the baseball season with only a small percentage of their total capacity. “Seating was pretty spread out,” Adam Withinton, senior, said. “I definitely want to go to more games this season. Hopefully it’ll be max capacity.”

The crack of the bat sounded as Matt Carpenter, Cardinals third baseman, hit his first home run of the season in the bottom of the third inning Tuesday, April 13. Adam Withinton, senior, cheered from his seat in Busch stadium, happy to be able to be there. 

Withinton said this was one of the best moments of the game, as it broke the player’s early season slump and earned him a curtain call to come back out of the dugout after his hit to acknowledge the cheering of the fans.

Up until recently, this event would not have been possible for fans to experience in person.

Major League Baseball (MLB) had originally canceled games and continued to push back the start date of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, which brought a pause for any fans who regularly tuned in at home. 

After a hiatus of games without fans, Busch Stadium reopened to public spectators starting with the home opener Thursday, April 8. This came with many COVID restrictions such as designated entry gates, mobile-only tickets, masks and cashless transactions.

After Busch Stadium reopened to fans Thursday, April 8, Adam Withinton, senior, decided to attend a game with his girlfriend who is from Washington D.C. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals were playing each other, so the two cheered for their respective teams. The game ended with a Cardinal’s victory of 14-3. “That game was crazy,” Withinton said. “It felt like the old way of life was coming back. It made me forget, for a bit, that we’re in a pandemic.” (Media by Adam Withinton)

“Even with all the safety precautions it was still a lot of fun,” Withinton said. “With such a limited capacity and it being outdoors, I felt really safe.” 

Withinton attended the game with his out-of-town girlfriend, and the two cheered for opposing teams. The Cardinals triumphed over the Washington Nationals 14-3. 

Seating at the game was spread out and every other row was roped off, Withinton said. The stadium returned with 32 percent capacity of its maximum seating of 43,975.

Withinton said the atmosphere was high energy despite the smaller number of fans in person.

“There were points where there was a noticeable difference because of limited capacity,” Withinton said. “But at other times it really did feel like a sold out stadium.”

Certain safety regulations, however, seem a little excessive to Kacey McBride, science teacher, who has been a Cardinals fan her entire life. 

“Some of these regulations are good,” McBride said. “I, however, don’t agree with having designated entrances. We always park in the same spot, and now if our tickets are in a different part of the park, we will have to walk farther or find a new parking spot.”

McBride said she feels that this year’s team is struggling to find their chemistry after a year with COVID-19. This is not a sentiment shared by all fans, however.

Before COVID-19, sophomore principal Rick Regina frequently attended Cardinal’s games with his kids and his wife who is also a long time fan. His daughter even received a ball from a player during a game. “We’re looking forward to getting down there,” Regina said. “I’m happy they’re doing all that they can to make sure these games happen.” (Media by Rick Regina)

The addition of Nolan Arenado, third baseman, to this year’s lineup has been a topic of discussion amongst fans. His joining of the team has already shown benefits, with 3 home-runs this year and 8 runs batted in (RBI). 

This along with Yadier Molina, catcher, recently becoming the first MLB player to catch 2,000 games with one team has sparked a renewed interest. Fans such as McBride are happy to get back to the stadium.

“My family lives through sports, and obviously the health of our players should be our top priority,” McBride said. “But getting back to a little bit of normal life and having sports on TV and in stadiums with fans again, is going to help normalize the last crazy year.”

Rick Regina, sophomore principal, married his wife in the Redbird Club at Busch Stadium.

Now, years later, Regina said he and his wife enjoy being able to show their children a place from such an important moment in their lives.

Media by Rick Regina

Regina said tickets are currently being sold in groups of four which makes it difficult for his family of five to attend a game, though he is hopeful to be able to make it to one later in the year. 

Instead he is able to fondly look back on his memories of games, one of his favorites being a game when his youngest daughter was given a ball by one of the Cardinal players. 

“The whole ride home she just kept hitting that ball in her hand,” Regina said. “That’s all I heard the whole ride home.”