ST. LOUIS — Odd how a new building can evoke memories from 50 years ago. St. Louis native Jerry Reuss strolled around Busch Stadium marveling at how the gleaming structure brought back "the smell of stale beer and cigars from the days of straw hats."
The former pitcher is a white-haired 57-year-old Dodgers radio broadcaster these days, but he vividly recalled how he felt as a 7-year-old attending his first Cardinals game at Sportsman's Park.
"I looked out at the field from the reserved level and saw that perfectly manicured green grass," he said. "At that moment I knew I wanted baseball to be part of my life forever."
Half a century later, Reuss toured the new stadium with a digital camera, taking pictures of architecture that reminded him of Sportsman's Park and old Busch Stadium, and pausing just to breathe in the damp Midwestern summer air.
Could it have been nearly 40 years ago when he was a local high school hotshot going to $5 Teen Night games? It wasn't long before he was sitting in the Busch Stadium dugout, about to make his debut at 20 with the Cardinals, who had made the left-hander a second-round draft pick.
"I happened to look up at those seats I'd sat in just two years earlier and thought, 'Am I the luckiest guy in the world or what?' " he said.
Reuss pitched until he was 41, winning 220 games and helping the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series title. Now he is in his first year serving as color analyst for broadcaster Rick Monday at more than 40 Dodgers road games.
And besides being a photography buff, he has a hobby that melds well with traveling to ballparks -- he studies stadium architecture, paying particular attention to scoreboards.
He's proud of a photo he took of the ball jumping off the bat of Brian Jordan in 1998 for a home run. The Busch Stadium scoreboard is framed perfectly in the background.
"If you have the scoreboard in a shot, you can capture a moment in time," Reuss said. "It's recorded for you, and it gives the photo great depth of field."
Reuss also collects books on sports photography and is searching for shots of himself pitching for the Cardinals and Houston Astros. He said he has plenty of photos from his years with the Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox.
Although he pitched for the Dodgers from 1979-87 and lives in the Southland, he will always consider St. Louis home. The Cardinals included him in ceremonies when old Busch Stadium closed last year.
"My wife and I had a wonderful four days," he said. "My brothers came. It was a family reunion of sorts."
Reuss feels a kinship with folks at the new stadium too.
"There are a lot of the same people working here," he said. "There is a deep connection."