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Ross Wolf is packing the stands

Tonight, Ross Wolf will be in the major league park closest to his hometown.

The Southern Illinois town of Newton, deep in St. Louis Cardinals country, is gearing up for the Marlins, who open a three-game series tonight at Busch Stadium.

But it's not the Marlins townsfolk are so interested in seeing. It's Marlins rookie reliever Ross Wolf, who will be making his first visit to St. Louis as a major-leaguer.

Wolf led Newton Community High School to the state championship in 2001.

''My brother's wife's aunt bought 35 tickets [for one of the games],'' Wolf said, adding the town could be sending as many as 50 spectators each night to see him play.

But will they be wearing Cardinals red or Marlins teal?

''I don't know if they'll convert,'' he said.

First off, that is impressive since Newton is approximately 130 miles from St. Louis.

I have no idea whether this a family road trip or not, but assuming that it isn't, and most aren't, one would think there would be enough room in the Marlins family and friends section to put all of his well wishers.

On the other hand, if all of his well wishers are planning to wear Cardinal red, let them get their own tickets.