St. Louis celebrates another NL pennant

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Among all major league teams, only the New York Yankees have had more success than the Cardinals. But in baseball-mad St. Louis, celebrating a pennant never gets old.

Red-clad fans on Monday were reveling in another National League championship, a day after the Cardinals beat the Brewers 12-6. It was another milestone for the National League's most successful team.

The Cardinals have won three pennants since 2004 (the 2006 team won the World Series). The Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants have all won 18 pennants, but no National League team has more World Series titles than the Cardinals' 10.

They'll try to get their 11th starting Wednesday at Busch Stadium against the Texas Rangers.
St. Louis was clearly in the red Monday. Businessmen wore red ties or Cardinals jackets. The fountain at Kiener Plaza spewed red water. A few downtown buildings hung banners that read "Go Cardinals."

The World Series figures to foster civic pride, but it's an economic boost, too.

Ruth Sergenian, economist for the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, estimated that the playoffs and World Series will generate an economic benefit of $40 million to $52 million for the region, depending on how long the series goes. But she said the value extends beyond people coming to town and spending on food and hotel rooms.

"The big impact you can't measure is people looking at television and being introduced to St. Louis, what a nice place it is and how good it looks," she said.

Six St. Louis graphics companies worked through the night to make official "National League Champion" T-shirts and caps for Majestic Athletics, the Easton, Pa.-based rights holder for licensed merchandise.

"The second that ball was squeezed in the glove for strike three they started production," said Brad Leinbach, special events coordinator for Majestic. "St. Louis is a very, very good baseball market. For the St. Louis market, we're printing well into the tens of thousands."

Employees of the Cardinals team store showed up for work at 5:30 a.m. to sort out the new merchandise, and began selling it immediately when doors opened at 6 a.m., said Megan Curtis, manager of retail operations for the store. She hadn't yet tallied sales but said they were very strong for the NL championship merchandise, and for anything referencing the "rally squirrel," homage to the critter that scampered across home plate during Game 4 of the divisional series with the Phillies.

"Everybody is really excited," Curtis said. "They're saying, `I can't believe it happened."'

Who can? The Cardinals were 10 1/2 games behind NL wild-card leader Atlanta on Aug. 25, just a little over a month before the end of the season. But St. Louis went 22-9 down the stretch, the Braves went 10-20, and the Cardinals slipped into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

The Cardinals beat the 102-win Phillies in the division series, then beat NL Central rival Milwaukee, who had a baseball-best 57-24 record at home, by winning two games at Miller Park, including the clincher Sunday night.

"It just seems like a miracle run," Jack Keaton, 22, of St. Louis, said as he prepared to pay for two $40 caps and three $35 shirts at the team store.

It certainly seemed like a miracle to Justin Dambacher, 25, of Springfield, Ill. Dambacher and three friends made the trip to St. Louis in hopes of scoring World Series tickets. By late morning, they hadn't had any luck.

For Dambacher, the Cardinals' success had extra meaning. His dad, a huge fan of the team, died earlier this year at age 45.

"This has been emotional, very special," Dambacher said. "Especially when you have the season like this, where they had to fight so hard."
 

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