Best Fans in Baseball Leave Cardinals Game Early to Get Jump on Hunting for Bo Hart Artifacts

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 17: Jeff Francoeur #21 of the Kansas City Royals is tagged out by Tony Cruz #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 17, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Royals beat the Cardinals 5-3 in 15 innings. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS - Thousands of Cardinals fans promptly left Sunday's game against the Royals in order to participate in various Best Fans in Baseball action events across Missouri on Sunday.

Billy Butler's ninth inning home run eventually sent the game into extra innings, and the five hour affair eventually ate into the Sunday evenings of many dedicated Cardinal fans.

"It's unfortunate that the game went to extra innings, because as one of the Best Fans in Baseball, I already had a previous appointment to lead a team of enthusiasts through St. Louis on a six hour long 'Fernando Vina Parked Here Tour'," said Mike Redbird.

Other fans faced similar quandaries. The largest group included some 500 people, who fanned out along both banks of the Mississippi river, hunting for Bo Hart memorabilia.

"A lot washes up every time we have a big rain," said Kevin LaTorre, "it's amazing, there are so many levels of amazing Cardinal history on these shores. We have the McEwing group on the Illinois side, and the Placido Polanco group on the Missouri side. On a good day, we'll find Bo Hart era trash - beer bottles, magazines, McDonald's wrappers, that all help us better understand that amazing time in Cardinal history. Material culture is really the best way to understand just what it was like being one of the Best Fans in Baseball in 2003."

"I love the Redbirds," said Michelle Lankford-Edmunds, "but I had already scheduled a talk at the Chesterfield Public Library."

The sixth of ten lectures on the 1997 Cardinals, Lankford-Edmunds' lecture will discuss John Mabry's performance in clutch situations.

"Mabry's utility, versatility, and baseball courage meant so much to that team," she said.

Out on the river, LaTorre's group followed the extra frames via a unique device. Constructed last year by a team at Washington University, the Lohseometer takes the baseball play by play, converts it to Morse code, then reads out the dashes and dots using a recording of Jack Buck's voice.

"It's truly the theater of the mind," said LaTorre. "Hearing Jack say 'dash dash dash dot dash dot dot dash dot dot' out on the mighty Mississp' while looking for reminders of the way we lived during those magical years of Bo Hart is baseball poetry and pure Americana."

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