Players return home in Missouri baseball team's win at Busch Stadium

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | 11:11 p.m. CDT; updated 11:55 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 7, 2010
This file photo shows the Missouri baseball team at Busch Stadium in 2010 when the team played Illinois. The Tigers return to the stadium to play Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

ST. LOUIS — To nobody’s surprise, Andreas Plackis’ favorite baseball player is Albert Pujols.

Plackis became a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals when he moved to the city during high school.

This allowed him to attend Cardinals games and watch his favorite hitter slug the ball out of the ballpark like Plackis has already done once for the Tigers.

Not to mention the two have the same initials.

Plackis had the chance to play where his idol normally plays in the Tigers 7-4 win against Illinois on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. The nerves didn’t hit Plackis until he got to the ballpark.

“I walk in through the right field gate, and I look up at all those red stands,” Plackis said. “This is a place you see on TV … It’s an amazing place.”

Plackis grew up a fan of the Seattle Mariners. Even before his high school friends converted him, he was a big fan of Pujols.

Plackis hit his first career home run on Tuesday. Plackis said he’s got a long ways to go before he can hit it as far as Albert Pujols, especially with the wooden bats that both teams used on Wednesday. The young hitter admires Pujols for more than his hitting.

“His swing his amazing,” Plackis said. “A thing of beauty. I think it’s not just his swing but the way he stays humble and the kind of person he is. He’s so competitive, but at the same time, a real good person.”

Although Plackis didn’t want to admit it, he shares similar personality traits. He’s soft-spoken and credits his success to his strong belief in God.

Coach Tim Jamieson said he thinks Plackis is humble.

“I think he’s not out looking for attention,” Jamieson said. “He works hard, he does what he’s supposed to do. He’s making improvements and he’s doing it because of his commitment to get better.”

Plackis has been getting more playing time lately because he keeps getting better. However, while Plackis gets more playing time, Jonah Schmidt has been getting less.

Schmidt, also a St. Louis native, said the two have a friendly competition. They were both in the lineup on Wednesday, which was a thrill for Schmidt.

Schmidt, who wears the same No. 25 that Cardinals hitting coach and former player Mark McGwire wears, grew up best friends with former St. Louis president Mark Lamping’s son.

Because of his connections, Schmidt was able to be in attendance when McGwire hit home runs 69 and 70 in 1998.

Schmidt said he has always dreamed of hitting a home run himself at Busch Stadium. He gave two balls pretty long rides on Wednesday, but they fell short. Schmidt blamed it on the wooden bats.

“I think both of them would’ve gotten out with a metal bat,” Schmidt said. “What are you going to do?”

Jamieson jokingly responded, “It might have hooked foul.”

Schmidt has also had the opportunity to see Pujols play on several occasions. Schmidt said he sees some similarities between the two, but one major difference.

“I think Plackis might be a little bigger,” Schmidt said as Plackis patted his stomach in agreement.

Plackis hopes to make it to the next level, but he doesn’t think people will ever recognize his name first when they hear the initials A.P.

“Ten years, I think we’ll still see Albert Pujols,” Plackis said. “Hopefully in St. Louis.”

Missouri (17-11) plays Oklahoma at 6:30 p.m., Friday in Norman.

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