2007 is the first year that I can say I attended spring training for a World Series Champion. The St.Louis Cardinals are the team, and on Saturday I made my way over to the Cardinals side of Roger Dean Stadium after meeting a plethora of Marlins players.
Unfortunately, it was noon time and practice was winding down. I figured that it would be to late to take the trolley over and I might as well stand by the teams parking lot in the hopes of acquiring a few autographs.
I stood there patiently with 5-6 other fans who were awaiting the arrival of the players. 12:15, 12:30 and 12:45 ticked by without any Redbird leaving the parking lot. Finally, Albert Pujols approached us in his Cadillac, but instead of stopping he quickly drove away.
It wasn't a surprise that baseball's best player didn't stop because he has gained the reputation from many autograph seekers to be selfish and to ignore fans. The one thing that ticked me off the most was that there was four, yes four measly fans standing there waiting for his autograph. It might have taken him a minute at the most to roll down his window and sign four baseballs. That impression of Pujols will stay with me until I see his behavior reform.
Luckily, the majority of players stopped for the fans. The first person to sign was outfielder Skip Schumaker and following him were Yadier Molina, Anthony Reyes, Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock, Ricardo Rincon, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Eli Marrero and pitching coach Dave Duncan.
Unfortunately, Dave's son Chris sped away in his Cadillac, and following him in that process were Aaron Miles and Mark Mulder. Manager Tony La Russa was busy and did not sign, but he has gained the reputation for being a very nice person.
Many of the Cards players including Josh Hancock, Josh Kinney, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were especially nice. Carpenter receives the award for nicest Cardinal, but Wainwright is not far behind.
He came off as being a very kind young man and a player who will go the extra mile to do something nice for a fan. Carpenter, the ace of the Cardinals staff, was one of the last people to leave, but not only did he sign my baseball, he took a picture with me.
I was very surprised that the best pitcher in the National League could be so approachable and it seemed like he was just another player on the team. I hope that his teammate Albert Pujols could learn a few lessons from him in the hospitable category.
I can't wait to attend Cardinals spring training later this week as the rest of the position players will be there.