ST. LOUIS - Busch Memorial Stadium (aka Busch Stadium II) was demolished after the Cardinals’ 2005 season. Generations of fans sat in those seats, watching Cardinals legends like Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson, Mark McGwire, and others win title after title. Much of the old building is gone but plenty of memories remain.
This story begins at a pub in Florida, when a friend said, “You’re from St. Louis, right? My uncle has all the seats out of Busch Stadium on his farm in Indiana.”
So, our news crew opted to take a road trip to a warehouse in a remote part of the Hoosier State to check it out.
“We were basically the pioneers. We came up with this type of business,” said Billy Sprinkle.
Sprinkle deconstructs stadiums for a living by removing every single seat.
“At first we were taking them out because we thought high schools and universities might be good to sell them to,” he said. “And then as we got into it, we saw the value of memorabilia.”
So, if a stadium has come down or been refurbished in the last several years then Sprinkle has likely participated in the teardown. From Shea Stadium in New York to Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta and dozens of stadiums in between. But, then you have Busch II.
“We’ve done a lot of stadiums and I’ve never seen any fans as dedicated as the folks from St. Louis,” Sprinkle said.
Sprinkle and his crew worked around the clock to get the seats out. We even found an old interview we did with him. His crew removed everything; from the red seats in the upper deck to the green seats right behind home plate and even the bleachers.
“They are still in the same shape that they were,” Sprinkle said.
They were careful to sure to keep track of which seats belonged where.
“I think there were close to 3,500 sets of seats which were specific seats. Meaning, someone had set in that seat for 20 years and they wanted that seat. So, we were very careful to make sure the fans got their seats,” he said.
Fox 2 spoke with one fan who said he and his late father used to go to Busch Stadium and sit in seats just like these. He now has these seats in his basement. He said that it is a chance to connect with his father long after he died. So, it is a lot more than just a seat. For some fans, it’s a family legacy.
“Yeah, they were very personal, very personal to the fans," Sprinkle said.
Mike Simon, the foreman for S&S Seating, admits he's not a big baseball fan but still gets taken in by all the nostalgia.
“I actually got to meet one of the architects who designed those (stadium) arches and he was telling me all about that. That was the biggest thrill,” Simon said.
Busch Stadium II is just a part of history but certainly not forgotten. Because as everybody from St. Louis knows, there is a special connection between the “Birds on the Bat” and this city.
“If you would have asked me 15 years ago that we’d be talking about these seats again, I would have told you you’re crazy. But here we are,” Simon said.
Sprinkle said most people typically reach out around the start of baseball season and just before Father’s Day to inquire about buying the seats.
Addendum: Meet the man who kept 'The Man' out of Busch Stadium
While conducting interviews for this story, we spoke with one of Billy Sprinkle's crew members, who had quite the amusing interaction with a member of Cardinals royalty.
Mike Foreman has the odd distinction of maybe being the only person to refuse Stan Musial entry to Busch Stadium II.
"This is a story I have not been able to outlive over the past 15 years," Foreman said. "Again, I said I’m not a big baseball fan, so please forgive me for that."
According to Foreman, looters and memorabilia collectors had been taking items from the demolition site. And one particular day, Foreman agreed to man the guard shack while the security attendant went to the restroom. Around this time, Musial and his family came up from Florida and tried to get inside the old stadium one last time to view the family's old suite and get some photos but Foreman said, "Stan who?"
Musial's son pointed Foreman to a nearby bronze statue and said simply, "Stan."
After making a couple phone calls and confirming Stan's identity, Foreman apologized and brought the family up to the suite. He even took photos of their visit. As the family was leaving, Musial's son gave Foreman a baseball signed by The Man himself.
"So it was a pretty cool memory from the stadium, that’s for sure," Foreman said. "It's a good thing I was standing next to the statue cause I still probably wouldn’t have known who he was."