The Double A Experience

by Patty Murray

When you love baseball, living in a town with a minor league team is an amazing advantage that lets you experience the benefits of good baseball without the hassle of large crowds, excessive traffic and long drives. It is much easier to catch a game after work and still make it to work on time the next day. It’s a chance to share a game with your friends and family
because it is an affordable option with packages at all levels. And, the fact that minor league parks work hard to provide a fast-paced entertainment experience allows fans to be a part of their favorite major league team without having to make a long drive to the major league park. The Springfield Cardinals are one of those minor league teams that provide this unique
opportunity to fans in the southwest Missouri area.

The Springfield Cardinals are the Double-A team that plays at Hammons Field in downtown Springfield, Missouri. They were established in 2005 and were sold this year by the St. Louis Cardinals to Diamond Baseball Holdings. The Cardinals are in the North Division of the Texas League and often serve as a rehab location for St. Louis Cardinal greats including Adam
Wainwright (2023) and Ryan Helsley (2023) as well as Yadier Molina (2022). The stadium, Hammons Field, was funded by local businessman John Q Hammons and is the centerpiece of Jordan Valley Park. The park touts one of the largest high definition scoreboards in minor league facilities along with an indoor practice field and 28 luxury box suites.

Throughout the game, the staff works hard to provide opportunities for fans to become involved. Between each inning, fans are treated to games which involve free pizza, musical chairs, scoreboard emoji’s, bumper balls and free t-shirts. Louie, the Springfield Cardinals’ mascot, can be seen around the stadium throughout the game along with his dog, Fetch, which was given to Louie as a birthday gift in 2006. The 2023 addition of flashing lights added a degree of excitement when the Cardinals score runs. In addition, fireworks are featured every weekend. Community involvement is a major part of the minor league experience. Little league teams are featured each game, taking their place on the field with Cardinals players to experience the National Anthem. The first pitch is thrown out by community members who sometimes win the right in local fundraisers.

In addition to the stadium events, there is baseball. The team has been a stepping stone for players moving on to the big league since its inception. The roster includes sixteen pitchers and catchers, infielders, and outfielders that operate at a level that is often comparable to those in the majors. The Cardinals are coached by Jose’ Leger along with a staff of pitchers, catchers, and hitting coaches.

Another positive aspect of the Double-A experience is the camaraderie of those attending the game. Since it is so convenient, there are a lot of repeat attendees. You see your neighbors, your banker, your students or your teachers, local merchants, and people you have known all your life. There is a large crowd of Red Access members who have season ticket packages that are flexible and allow them to experience baseball on their schedule. After all, any day at the ballpark beats a day at work any day of the week!

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Patty Murray is a retired educator and life long baseball fan. She has lived around the southwest Missouri area her entire life where she enjoyed a 39 year career as a school counselor and teacher. Patty has a true love of baseball and started out as a Cincinnati Reds fan during the days of the Big Red Machine. She later became a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan and enjoyed watching and talking baseball with her dad, who instilled in her the love of the game.

Patty lives in Springfield, MO where she has the benefit of experiencing baseball at the AA level with the Springfield Cardinals and is currently a season pass holder. Besides going to baseball games, she is trying to figure out how to “be retired” and enjoys time with her three children and six grandchildren.

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