ST. LOUIS — When the Nationals were on their way to St. Louis Monday afternoon, center fielder Rick Ankiel was reminiscing about the 12 years he spent in the Cardinals’ organization and what the fan support over all those years, seven of which he spent in the big leagues, mean to him.
Remembering that former Cardinals slugger Jim Edmonds placed an ad in a local paper to thank fans following his departure from St. Louis in 2007, Ankiel decided that he’d like to do something similar. He made a few phone calls on the flight and the result showed up Wednesday.
Ankiel placed a half-page ad in Wednesday’s edition of the St. Louis Post-dispatch, thanking fans for their “support and cheers over the years.”
The ad, which features a picture of Ankiel, reads “Many thanks to Cardinals’ fans and the city of St. Louis for your support and cheers over the years. It was a privilege and an honor. -Rick Ankiel”
“(I just wanted to) give them thanks,” Ankiel said. “I was here for a long time and I felt for years they always supported me, whatever was going on, throughout my whole career. I just wanted to let them know that I appreciated them.”
Ankiel was drafted by the Cardinals in 1997 as a pitcher and made his major league debut as one just two years later. St. Louis was also the city and organization that stood by Ankiel when his pitching career floundered and he decided to take a shot at returning to the major leagues as an outfielder.
Though he spent 2010 with the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, this is Ankiel’s first trip back to St. Louis as a member of the visiting team.
“I was somewhere else all year last year, so it’s not like the very next, but for me, it’s fun,” he said. “I have a lot of friends over there. It’s fun to compete against these guys.”
“The replays play over in my mind sometimes, yeah. Why not?”