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Fans pack Busch to help Cards celebrate Series crown

10/30/2006 - St. Louis Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- The party keeps going for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Tony La Russa suspects some of his youngers players
may be beyond his reach.

"For those of you who have been on the streets, I am not
responsible for Tyler Johnson and Chris Duncan," the manager joked
Sunday. "I just hope they quit celebrating the day before spring
training starts in '07."

Thousands of fans lined downtown for a parade celebrating the
franchise's first World Series title since 1982. The ballpark was
packed, too, just like the regular season, for a rally capped by a
daylight fireworks display.

"Awesome," Albert Pujols said. "I've been dreaming of this
since I was a little boy."

The Cardinals sold out the first year at new Busch with total
attendance of 3.4 million. General manager Walt Jocketty said at
the rally that it looked as if alll of them were at the parade.

The team estimated the crowd at between 300,000 and 500,000.

"It's out of control," ace pitcher Chris Carpenter said. "I
don't think I'd ever have this feeling. I can't describe it."

The Cardinals received a prolonged standing ovation after
walking from the dugout to a podium at second base. Two days
earlier, they won their 10th championship, second in the majors to
the Yankees' 26 titles.

La Russa said fans should respect the three teams the Cardinals
eliminated in the postseason -- San Diego, New York and Detroit --
then added: "But we do get to celebrate."

Catcher Yadier Molina was among the young stars who emerged,
beating the New York Mets in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series
with a ninth-inning, two-run homer.

"I'm just trying to enjoy it now because February is going to
come fast," Molina said. "We've got to get ready for next
season."

La Russa had a place of honor in the parade, with his family
getting a ride on the Anheuser-Busch beer wagon led by a team of
eight Clydesdales. Since joining mentor Sparky Anderson as the only
managers to win a World Series in both leagues it's been a weekend
of honors for La Russa. He dropped the ceremonial first puck at a
Blues-Red Wings game on Saturday night and got waylaid earlier that
day for an impromptu speech in the Central West End, where he lives
alone during the season.

"He took a team that wasn't expected to win, and he provided
leadership," Blues president John Davidson said. "They banded
together. I think those are the great memories."

La Russa's family joined him for the celebration. His wife,
Elaine, has accompanied him throughout the playoffs, and daughters
Bianca and Devon flew in just in time for the festivities.

"It's one thing to watch it on TV and try to get the feeling of
the fans and the crowd and the city," Bianca La Russa said. "But
to actually be here and you're driving in and see all the red, the
energy is awesome."

The 62-year-old manager is signed through next season, and his
family can't see him retiring anytime soon.

"Oh, goodness," Bianca La Russa said. "I don't think we could
take him around the house all year long. So I'm going to go with at
least 10 more years."

Players were still digesting their improbable run to the
championship. They lost nine of the last 12, barely avoiding
perhaps the worst September collapse in major league history,
before taking off in the postseason.

The Padres were flicked aside in four games, and the Cardinals
outlasted the Mets in seven games before eliminating the favored
Tigers in five games with a 4-2 victory Friday night.

"Everybody on our team knew if we could just get in the
playoffs that anything could happen, and boy it did," reliever
Braden Looper said. "Once we got there, we just started playing
together, we started getting a few breaks, and the rest is
history."