The Springfield Cardinals’ home game No. 44 was a blockbuster.

Spiderman roamed the lobby and fans came early to collect Captain America’s bobbleheads.

Two of the cardinals’ crusaders had disappeared; Shortstop Masyn Winn and third baseman Jordan Walker were in Hollywood battling it out in a baseball galaxy far, far away.

Undeterred, Springfield donned Ironman-inspired jerseys for Marvel Superhero Night and defeated understudy Tinseltown – the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Tulsa Drillers.

Chandler Redmond hit a grand slam and Chase Pinder went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs to propel the Cardinals past Tulsa 15-5, a happy ending to the Saturday night show at Hammons Field.

Photo courtesy of the Springfield Cardinals. Chandler Redmond bats Tulsa at Hammons Field on Saturday, July 16.

For 4,131 paying customers, the diamond action was only half the story.

Moments before the first pitch, stadium emcee Jay Fotsch – a Mehlville High School alumnus and present on Springfield’s Power 96.5 FM radio station – spotted kryptonite in the stands and walked down to a fan seated behind the drillers’ canoe.

The man had committed the cardinal sin: wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey.

After prompting those nearby to serenade the offender with boos, Fotsch sighed and said, “I’m sorry – I’m sorry you decided to wear that jersey.”

Then Fotsch handed the mic to 8-year-old Rory, and the youngster closed the pregame credits with a resounding “Play Ball!”

True to cinematic form, it didn’t go over well for the good guys at first.

Cardinals starter Edgar Escobar allowed four hits and walked one, and for the second straight game, Springfield led 3-0 before taking a corner at home plate.

At the bottom of the frame, the Redbirds charged with one out and Redmond stepped in to take on Drillers right-hander Landon Knack.

Redmond muscled Knack’s first offer over the right field fence for a grand slam – and while Winn and Walker took the field at Dodgers Stadium for the 2022 Futures MLB game, Redmond touched home plate to turn a deficit from three points to a one-point lead.

“I was trying to be on the fastball timing and see it all,” Redmond said.

“I’m not trying to chase anything low; (Knack) tries to throw low in the area and get me on the ground in a double play. I just wanted to see something in the middle and hit it to the outfield.

Redmond’s swat – his 11th of the season – turned the tide, but like any superhero, he needed the help of a sidekick.

Pinder has swung a hot bat since returning from the disabled list on July 1 and the former Clemson Tiger provided more heroics in the second inning.

Pinder drove a 1-2 pitch from Drillers pitcher Jose Martinez in the opposite direction for a two-run brace, part of a four-run inning that put Springfield comfortably ahead.

“I tipped on a low lead, so I (expected) something,” Pinder said. “He threw a fastball up and down and I just went with it.”

“I feel comfortable on the plate – it’s always nice to be healthy, it’s frustrating to be on the IL and it’s a comforting feeling to be back.”

Escobar settled on the mound for his sixth win and while the on-field drama died down, the tension continued between sets.

Cooper and Emily, 19, joined Fotsch atop the visitor dugout to launch the Magic Carpet Ride promotion. They were each given a bathroom floor mat and told to run along the dugout without letting their hands or feet leave the mat.

Water from a third inning downpour pooled on the dugout, but that didn’t stop Emily from beating Cooper, with a Fotsch assist that thrilled the crowd.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, critics were raving after Winn unleashed his superpower for the baseball world to see and word of mouth spread among the masses at Hammons Field who had picked up the buzz on social media.

Winn lined up a ground throw in the second inning and hit a 100.5 mph throw through the diamond, fulfilling his prophecy that he would surpass Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz’ record throw of 97.8 mph earlier in the week.

Back in Springfield, the Cardinals extended their lead in the sixth inning, but fans’ attention had to turn to the auction tables near the main gate where final bids were placed for the Ironman apparel worn by the Game.

Springfield offers several themed jersey nights, and uniforms are autographed and raffled off to raise money for local causes.

Themed jerseys are usually the domain of Cardinals graphic designer TJ Patton; When Walker threw his third home run of the season on May 13, he was wearing a Halloween-themed Friday the 13th uniform designed by Patton.

Photo courtesy of the Springfield Cardinals. Jordan Walker scores against Amarillo at Hammons Field on Friday, May 13.

Dylan Carlson rehabilitated in Springfield in early June, and he wore an 8-bit graphic jersey that Patton had lobbied for since his job interview in 2017. The 8-bit design broke the team’s fundraising record for a single auction.

Marvel and Major League Baseball collaborated on the design of Ironman — 90 MLB and affiliate teams are participating this year — and outfits for Cardinals prospects Gordon Graceffo, Malcom Nunez and Michael McGreevy have sold for $350 each, with proceeds being donated to the Springfield Public Schools Foundation.

Logan Gragg recorded the final nine outs for Springfield and hit Kody Hoese to end the game and send happy fans home, Marvel swag in tow.

But for Cardinals players, front office and gameday staff, the encore performance — home game No. 45 — is just one day away.

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is a freelance sportswriter living in the Ozarks with his amazing wife and four kids. He loves St. Louis, grilled dumplings and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505