Monday's event was the third year the Cardinals held a pep rally
before the beginning of the playoffs. Unlike the previous seasons,
when the Cardinals won the National League Central with a
combined 205 victories, the fans on Monday who gathered on Clark
Street were a little more nervous than in the previous years.
"I thought we back-ended in a little bit," said Greg Sontag, 53, a
South St. Louis County resident. "That was disappointing. But, then
again, we came in really strong two years before that. This could be a
shot in the arm coming in this way. Maybe they'll play a little harder."
The Cardinals' loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at
Busch Stadium completed an 83-78 regular season, though the team and
fans were able to celebrate another Central Division crown by virtue
of the Atlanta Braves' defeat of the Houston Astros.
St. Louis fans were doing the Tomahawk Chop on Sunday afternoon.
"This has been a strange year," Cardinals president Mark Lamping said,
during a speech to the crowd.
Lamping walked around and interacted with the gathering on Monday,
which congregated in an area behind the outfield bleachers at the new
stadium and between where the old Busch Stadium stood for so many years.
"Thank you for your support this year; it was tremendous," Lamping
said. "You're the best fans in baseball, there's no doubt about that."
Lamping admitted he was nervous about the way the regular season
ended, but he reminded the gathering on Monday that Chicago White Sox
fans probably experienced a similar nervousness at this time a year ago.
That was when the White Sox barely made the playoffs, before manager
Ozzie Guillen's pitching staff caught fire and rolled through the
playoffs en route to winning the World Series for the first time in
nearly nine decades.
"I think we have the pitching to do it," Sontag said.
Sontag and the rest of the Cardinals fans will find out soon enough.
St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter is scheduled to start Tuesday's
National League Division Series opener against the Padres in San Diego.
The fans received free gifts from various sponsors, were able to
purchase their favorite stadium concession stand items and there were
areas for children to play.
Fredbird and his team made an appearance, as did St. Louis Mayor
Francis Slay and former Cardinals players Al Hrabosky, Rick
Horton and Danny Cox. The band Joe Dirt performed for the crowd.
Fireworks were scheduled for later on.
"It's been really fun," said Mary Cox of Greenup, Ill.