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Cardinals, Pujols Provide Thrills for Local Fans

Twenty six Major League Baseball teams will open their seasons today, providing hundreds of thousands of fans with an unforgettable and thrilling experience. But thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals, thousands of baseball fans in Southwest Missouri got to experience the excitement a few days early. KSMU's Greg Leuthen reports on the St. Louis Cardinals' exhibition games with the Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field.

For baseball fans in Southwest Missouri, just getting to watch Major League stars like Albert Pujols take batting practice at Hammons Field was the thrill of a lifetime. So it was no surprise that he got a huge ovation when he stepped into the batter's box against the Springfield Cardinals' starting pitcher, Jaime Garcia.

Pujols had a homerun and double in the exhibition game Friday night, but that was just an added bonus to an unforgettable experience. Many of the St. Louis Cardinals walked to the side of the field and signed baseballs, gloves, and glossy pictures for fans during batting practice.

Others enjoyed seeing the famous Budweiser Clydesdales trot proudly around Hammons Field. Fans also got to welcome back familiar faces, Rico Washington and Kyle McClellan, who once played in Springfield on a regular basis, but now call St. Louis home. Even St. Louis Manager Tony LaRussa was excited about the atmosphere in Springfield.

And apparently the St. Louis Cardinals weren't the only ones who wanted to put on a show. After losing 3-2 Friday night, the Springfield Cardinals pounded out 20 hits in a 10-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.