Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 4/8/13
Jim Edmonds gave a heads up at 9:35 a.m. The former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and current FOX Sports Midwest analyst, during radio interview Monday morning, tried to explain what anyone headed toward Busch Stadium would find. "It's something you get jacked up for," Edmonds said of the Cardinals home opener. "And you know how special it is." Here's proof: 11:04 a.m. Tom Hirstein found the hat at a party store. The blue and red stripes made it perfect. And the red wig underneath sets the whole thing off. "It's really just a normal Opening Day," the man in anything-but-normal attire said. His Stan Musial shirt was on. His Cardinals wristwatch and World Series replica rings were catching the sunlight. His plastic red sunglasses shielded his eyes. Hirstein, 62, offered this explanation before going to pick up his ticket. "We are kind of prejudiced, he said. "But the Cardinals do home openers like no other team." 11:24 a.m. Brandon Swanson rolled up his sleeves. "I just wanted something original, the 24-year-old said. "It started when I was 19." The tattoo of the Cardinals logo came first. He added all the World Series pennants later, along with the team's retired numbers. Baseball laces, and an image of Fredbird, came shortly after. His mom thinks he is crazy. His dad, a huge Cards fan, thinks the permanent body art on his arms is awesome. "I'm going to keep adding them," Swanson said. "As long as we keep retiring numbers and adding pennants, I'll keep putting them on my arms." 11:48 a.m. Gene Sandrowski leaned on the yellow fence. He held a clean, white baseball in one hand, and a pen in the other. "This is my hobby, saving autographs," the 66-year-old retired warehouse worker said. Sandrowski is good at his hobby. He knows Cardinals players park in a fenced lot behind Busch. He knows if he stands here, against the yellow gate, he might get someone to roll down a window and sign a ball on the way into the game. "Best way is to stand here," he said. "If they feel like stopping, they stop. If they don't, they don't." Autographs have been harder to get over the years, though. "A lot of guys collectors go on eBay and sell the stuff," he said. "A lot of ball players don't stop, because of that reason." Not Sandrowski. His collection isn't for sale. He said more than 70 signed balls are stored in his basement. Today thanks to Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright it grew by one more. 12:05 p.m. Zach Herman went to his first Cardinals home opener last year, a tradition his girlfriend, Caitlin Schmidt, had participated in for years with her folks. This one will likely be the most memorable, though. Herman planned a surprise proposal at the foot of the Stan Musial statue. "I saw what it meant to her," he said. "With Stan passing away last year, I decided to make it a memorable Musial moment." Everyone kept the secret. "I thought I was just coming for Opening Day," Schmidt said. "We come every year." Herman gathered the group for what he said would be a family photo. Then, he pulled the ring from his pocket and hit his knee. TV cameras swooped in. Pedestrians stopped and watched. She said, "Yes." Minutes later, she said. "We're going to the game!" 12:30 p.m. Cardinals manger Mike Matheny appeared in the St. Louis dugout. Soon, he was surrounded by reporters who wielded cameras and voice recorders. Still, the commotion didn't match the Cardinals-themed celebration that continued to take place in the streets outside. "At some point, somebody will make it an official holiday around here," Matheny said. It's hard to argue with that.
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