Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It’s “Tony” to me, but it’s “Mr. LaRussa” to you!

I surprised J this year with a trip for his Valentine’s Day/Birthday gift. I took him to Cardinals’ Spring Training down in Jupiter, Florida. We just got back Sunday night. The trip was wonderful. We both had a great time – and it was awfully nice to get away from the cold and the snow and hang out on the beach for a while!

We got down there Wednesday afternoon and after checking into our hotel in West Palm Beach headed out for some seafood. The concierge suggested Spoto's Oysters , so that’s where we ate. It was delicious! Lobster and crab and shrimp, oh my! We sat outside and enjoyed the ocean breeze – we were just a half block off the water. A couple of friends had recently moved to the area, so they met us for drinks after dinner.

Thursday was a free day for us so we slept late. Drove down Palm Beach Island – the Gold Coast in Florida – and gawked at the miles and miles of multi-million dollar estates. Starting with Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago, of course, and working our way south – the amount of money represented by all of those estates packed together like that is hard to comprehend. We ate lunch on the beach and found a place to drop a line in. Shockingly enough, I pretty quickly lost interest in fishing, but Jeremy kept at it – still didn’t catch anything.

The good stuff started on Friday. We had tickets to Friday afternoon’s game vs the Mets. Our seats were just six rows off the first base line, so we were very close to the players. Many stopped to sign autographs. Jeremy got some great pictures. Lou Brock was there – which was a real thrill for both of us! We had another delicious dinner by the beach at Shore Restaurant and Beach Bar (we had the guide-book recommended Kobe Beef Sliders with Truffle Parmesan Fries appetizer – to DIE for) in Delray – which I love, by the way. Atlantic Street, which runs through Delray and ends at the ocean is such a neat area – it reminded us both of a toned down Duval Street (Key West).

Saturday was the highlight of the trip, though. We had tickets to Saturday’s game as well and we made sure to get there early. So we were there in plenty of time to watch batting practice, have a couple of beers, get some food, watch the game, etc. Bob Gibson was there, but of course wasn’t interested in the fans – didn’t sign any autographs or come over to talk or anything – but it was still a thrill to see him so close.

The best part of the whole day, though, was the ticket-only BBQ after the game. I bought our trip through the Cardinals’ organization and you can buy a ticket to this BBQ after the game (they do it four times a year) that will be attended by some of the players. I was afraid it would be a little cheesy and nobody would actually show up but I was wrong. Tony LaRussa, Chris Duncan, Adam Wainwright, Brad Thompson and another pitching hopeful (whose name I forgot) were all there. So we got to meet them all, get their autographs, chat with them, etc. Meeting and talking to Tony LaRussa made the entire trip totally worth it. I called him “Mr. LaRussa” and he corrected me – “It’s Tony. Please.” So… Tony and I are on a first name basis. We’re thisclose. We’re buds. Jeremy took his book Three Nights in August with him, just in case such an opportunity would arise and asked him to sign it. See below.