Busch Stadium greatest moments

Legendary moments and Busch Stadium go together like few other combos, to the point where Budweiser’s marketing tagline is, quite literally, “celebrating legendary moments.”

So it should be no surprise that the list of the top Cardinals moments in their home park is rife with prime selections, hard to limit to a list of just five. But let’s try.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re limiting ourselves to Busch Stadium II and onwards (i.e. from 1966-present).

1) “We will see you … tomorrow night”
Date: Oct. 27, 2011
Sure, you could give the 2011 clincher the top spot, but given Game 6’s lore and build-up, we’ll go with the moment whose legend lives on. You know how it goes: Down 3-2 in the World Series to the mighty Texas Rangers, and down 7-5 with two outs in the ninth inning, David Freese laced a ball over the head of Nelson Cruz and raced all the way to third for a two-run, game-tying triple. The Rangers took the lead back in the 10th and Lance Berkman tied it in the bottom of the frame -- setting up Freese’s immortal homer onto the batter’s eye in the 11th.

2) Ozzie sends things to Game 6
Date: Oct. 14, 1985
While Freese’s home run was of much larger magnitude, and his overall World Series performance made him a hero in St. Louis, Ozzie Smith’s walk-off blast in the 1985 NLCS was a crowning moment for a king already. It also spawned one of Jack Buck’s most legendary calls: “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!” And Busch Stadium did.

3) Seat Cushion Night
Date: April 18, 1987
It was merely the 10th game of the 1987 season when Tom Herr blasted a walk-off grand slam for a 12-8 win over the Mets. It improved the Cardinals to 6-4 during a season when they’d win the pennant but lose the World Series to the Twins. In the grand scheme of that year, it was a nice win. Then the 41,942 fans in attendance started chucking their giveaway seat cushions onto the field, and it became a moment in time.

Though the stakes were low, we’re giving this one a bump for its sentimental, cultish place in Cardinals lore.

4) Big Mac hits No. 62
Date: Sept. 8, 1998
The epic home run chase of the 1998 season came to a poetic head on this September evening, with Mark McGwire smashing his 62nd home run to pass Roger Maris for the single-season record -- while his lone competitor in the chase, Sammy Sosa, was standing in right field at Busch Stadium II as the ball sailed beyond the left-field wall. Big Mac would homer eight more times in the summer of ‘98, including five alone in the final home series of the season against the Expos. But this one -- with Sosa in tow -- set him apart.

5) Albert makes his return
Dates: June 21-23, 2019
The Cardinals faithful had to wait eight years in order to welcome Albert Pujols back to Busch Stadium, after he signed his megadeal with the Angels. But The Machine’s return to St. Louis was a magical one, with a full Busch Stadium on its feet for what seemed the entirety of the three-game set. There was constant applause for one of the franchise’s all-time greats, a hug from Yadier Molina and a hat tip from Adam Wainwright. And when Pujols hammered a homer in Game 2, Busch Stadium erupted.

Honorable mentions
Lou Brock gave Busch Stadium II a trio of seminal moments, when he set the single-season stolen-base record with his 105th on Sept. 10, 1974, when he set the all-time record with his 893rd on Aug. 29, 1977, and when he laced his 3,000th hit on Aug. 13, 1979. Hard to pick just one entry for this list. … Their homers came in very different circumstances, as Jim Edmonds and Matt Adams provided two different Busch Stadiums with two different marquee moments, with Edmonds’ blast walking off Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS and Matt Adams’ 7th-inning homer proving the game-winner in the decisive Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. … And who can forget the 2006 World Series clincher, when Wainwright delivered Strike 3 to Molina to end a 24-year “drought” and christen Busch Stadium III in its first year of existence.

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