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BOSTON -- The last time the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series, Matt Adams was a Pirates fan with little reason to watch the Boston-St. Louis series.
"I was still in high school, a sophomore in high school. So I was [messing] around with my friends, hanging out," Adams said.
Now, Adams is making is first trip to New England since playing for the Pittsfield Dukes of the NECBL in 2008. The Cardinals meet the Boston Red Sox in Wednesday night's Game 1 of the World Series at Fenway Park. Adams could have a key role as a power-hitting first baseman and possible designated hitter for the games at Fenway.
Whatever the Cardinals do in 2013, it will be his first World Series memory.
"My team growing up was the Pirates," he said with a laugh. "They didn't make it to a World Series."
Adams is in a World Series in his first full season in the majors. The left-handed hitting first baseman hit .284 for the Cardinals in 2013 with 17 home runs and 51 runs batted in. He was only 5 for 22 in the Cardinals' National League Championship Series win over Los Angeles. But he did hit .316 with a homer in eliminating Pittsburgh in the NLDS.
The Cardinals slugger, who filled in for Lance Berkman in 2012 after Berkman replaced Albert Pujols, admitted that it's hard for him to believe that 12 months after finishing his 2012 season in Triple-A, he's four victories away from winning a World Series ring.
"Twelve months ago, I was sitting at home watching it on TV and recovering from my elbow surgery," Adams said. "It's pretty amazing being here one year later and being able to be a part of it."
In Pittsfield, Adams was part of an NECBL playoff team. He came to Pittsfield from Slippery Rock University along with teammate Billy Messer. Both played for Messer's father, Jeff, a Lee native who has won 869 games in 27 seasons as a head coach.
With the Dukes, Adams hit .
And if you ask Adams, he'll say that the year playing for manager Mike Marron on Dan Duquette's team had a huge hand in making him the player he is today.
"Being able to face some of the top college pitchers at that time and using wooden bats, it was basically one of the first times," he said. "It was a huge help for me. It really got my confidence up, knowing that I could play against the top prospects."
Adams and Allen Craig will help provide some power in the middle of the St. Louis order. Manager Mike Matheny said he is more than willing to write Adams' name onto his lineup card at first base and use Craig as a designated hitter.
"We're anxious to have [Craig] back, even though we felt fortunate that Matt Adams has been able to do what he's doing," Matheny said. "Yes, that gives us more depth. We have a couple of hitters that we'd love to have in the lineup, and actually, we were in that situation all season."
Adams' home field, Busch Stadium, isn't nearly as quirky as Fenway Park. There are 375-foot power alleys at Busch and the right field line is 335 feet, one foot shorter than the 336-foot left field line. Straightaway center in St. Louis is 400 feet. That's a far cry from the 302-foot shot down the right field line to the Pesky Pole at Fenway.
Matheny hasn't made out his lineup card for tonight's game against Jon Lester yet, but expect to see Adams there someplace.
This is Adams' first trip to New England since his Pittsfield summer. While the big lefty hasn't played in a park that rivals Wahconah Park in age, he has been to Fenway and has seen how other teams play in the park and play balls off the wall.
Adams calls himself a gap-to-gap hitter with some power. He said as long as he sticks to his approach, things should go well.
"You've got to take it in, but you've got to be ready to play the game," Adams said. "You've got to kind of relax and go about the same business you've done all year.
"All of us have done a pretty good job of doing that in the first couple of rounds of the playoffs."