ST. LOUIS -- Realizing that the St. Louis Cardinals were about to play their final home game of the season, regardless of how Game 5 turned out, David Eckstein saluted the fans at Busch Stadium as he prepared for one of the most important games of his career.
As Eckstein ran sprints back and forth from left field to shallow center on Friday, he waved to the fans in the center-field stands and tipped his cap, and not surprisingly, he received a loud ovation in return.
The final game of the 2006 season at Busch Stadium began with a rousing pregame ceremony, beginning with the nation's colors, presented by the 345th Air Force recruiting squadron honor guard.
Billy Ray Cyrus and his achy, breaky heart walked to the mound to perform the national anthem, but without his daughter, Miley, star of Disney's "Hannah Montana." Miley Cyrus was scheduled to perform the anthem with her dad on Wednesday, but that game was rained out and she did not appear Friday, likely because of scheduling conflicts.
The Cardinals honored the best of their history when Stan "The Man" Musial, who will turn 86 in November, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Musial, a 1969 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, played his entire 22-year career with the Cardinals, recording a lifetime batting average of .331 with 475 home runs and 1,951 RBIs.
A 20-time All-Star and three-time National League Most Valuable Player, Musial played in four World Series with the Cardinals, winning it three times -- in 1942, '44 and '46.
Another Hall of Famer, Red Schoendienst, escorted a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to the mound to deliver the first ball.
Schoendienst, a veteran of over 60 years as a player, manager and coach with the Cardinals, played 15 of his 19 big-league seasons with St. Louis. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.