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"This is an exciting day for us, loading the equipment that will go to Jupiter," said David Sabada, owner and president of A-Mrazek Moving Systems, which has helped the Cardinals with their move to Florida for 30 years. "Our job is to make sure the coaches and administrators can perform their job when the team arrives. We plan this entire move before we even actually perform it because we cannot afford any mistakes."
Most of the details and logistics were finalized by two members of Sabada's staff weeks ago. A-Mrazek Moving Systems then sent seven people to Busch Stadium to load the first truck on Thursday. It took less than two hours for the group to move hundreds of items from the Cardinals' home clubhouse, which has been a staging area of sorts for the past few weeks, to the loading dock.
"Really, our packing begins as soon as the season is over with," said Ernie Moore, the Cardinals' new equipment manager. "When guys pack up their lockers, boxes are already labeled for Spring Training. After Winter Warm-Up, that's when we pull everything out and stage it here and get a gauge of exactly what we're missing and needs to be added. The pile grows bigger by the day."
Moore and Mark Walsh, both of whom have worked as assistants in the clubhouse for several years, will be sharing duties as equipment manager this season. Rip Rowan, the team's longtime equipment manager, will transition into a new role as the visiting clubhouse manager. That job was held by Jerry Risch, who recently announced his retirement after 50 seasons working for the organization.
Despite some transition within the staff, the group worked together to prepare for Thursday's loading. Much of the equipment used in the Busch Stadium weight room, training room and video room has been boxed up. The Cardinals empty out much of their clubhouse kitchen, as well, sending not only dozens of cooking appliances, but also eight pallets of bottled water and one pallet of sunflower seeds.
Staff and front office members who want to send personal belongings are invited to load those onto the truck. On Thursday, there were guitars, golf clubs, bicycles, tennis rackets and children's toys being packed. The Cardinals also send down all the equipment necessary to tape their promotional videos and commercials during the early weeks of camp.
The two trucks are scheduled to arrive at the team's Florida complex by Sunday night. The next morning, Moore, Walsh and the rest of the team's equipment and clubhouse staff will begin unloading all the contents. They expect to have the trucks emptied within a few hours, and the clubhouse set up by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Two days later, workouts will begin.