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Ring ceremony an emotional experience

Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at 9:01 AM

Before I dive into today's column, I wanted to remind everyone to dive into this week's contest for one of TWO free copies of A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions DVD "St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champions" highlight film. If you know which past Cardinals pitcher has two World Series home runs under his belt then make sure to answer. Entries will be accepted until Thursday, April 19 at noon. Just click on this link to read more and find out how to enter.

I had the pleasure Saturday of getting to watch the St. Louis Cardinals receive their World Series rings and I've got to say it was one of the more emotional things I have ever watched at Busch Stadium.

Despite the horrible weather for the day, when the ceremony began at 11:30 a.m. the seats were full and everyone was on their feet. Some smiled, some screamed, some wept, but all cheered as their St. Louis Cardinals were rewarded for one of, if not the, most amazing comeback in baseball history.

Everyone in the organization that was on hand was filed out onto the field - owners, hall of famers, players, trainers and more - to receive a mahogany case that held a white gold ring with 133 diamonds and 77 rubies. Each box was not only deserved, but earned.

As they paraded out one at a time the crowd screamed, stomped and clapped.

Throughout the entire ceremony, the longtime rival Chicago Cubs, stood on the edge of their dugout to watch. It wasn't about rubbing it in to a team more than a century removed from a championship, it was about mutual respect for their colleagues. Whether it was to show his team what they should be chasing or just a matter of respect, I commend their manager for his professionalism. It was nice for just a moment to see the rivalry pushed aside to watch one of the most amazing ceremonies in all of sports.

This year, however, one of the Cubs got a ring, too.

Former Cardinals first-base coach Dave McKay trotted out of the dugout in his newly acquired Chicago Cubs jersey to receive his ring. He received the same cheers as every other member of the team before trotting back to his own dugout, the one opposite the dugout he has ran out of 81 times per year for more than a decade.

When the Hall of Famers walked onto the field, minus Stan Musial, a note about one really stood out to me.

Red Schoendeinst, who has done just about everything possible within the Cardinals organization, received his 7th championship ring. Given the sheer size of the things, I imagine if he tried to carry them all at once he would wind up with back problems.

At 89, Red still dresses out on most days and takes to the field with the team he has been a part of for now 67 years. Watching Red walk out onto the field is like a quick glimpse at the deep history of one of the most storied franchises in sports. During the World Series you could find Red, complete with Jersey, pants, cleats and high-rise red stirrup socks on the field. Not sitting in a luxury box in a suit and tie - no offense intended to those guys - buut with his feet in the grass often talking to Mark McGwire or some of the younger guys on the team.

He never hesitated to stop by and chat with the media or whoever else was floating around.

The only opportunity I had to speak with him was when he arose from the dugout before Game 6. As he walked out, stopping for a couple of quick television interviews, he carried his bat on his shoulder and was walking past me when I said "Hello, Mr. Schoendienst." I felt like a man with his experience deserved a "Mr."

He smiled his small smile and patted me on the should and said simply, "Hello young man. Call me Red." He then went on to the backstop to watch the young guys take their pre-game hacks and offer his opinion.

I've never spoken to him otherwise, but that two second conversation will always be a special memory to me.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com , call (573)624-4545 or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

Follow him on Twitter @coreynoles

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The one time I meet Red was outside the stadium getting autographs. With everyone crowded around him I remember him saying, "You damm kids." Keep in mind most of us around are in our 20's, but to him we are kids. I always get a laugh thinking about that story.

-- Posted by gregb on Tue, Apr 17, 2012, at 1:15 PM

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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