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Cardinals Win World Series: Chris Carpenter, Tony La Russa And St. Louis Celebrate (PHOTOS/VIDEO)

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ALBERT PUJOLS CELEBRATION
St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols sprays Champagne after Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, in St. Louis. The Cardinals won 6-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) | AP

When David Murphy's final fly ball landed in the glove of newly minted St. Louis Cardinals hero Allen Craig, the players' celebration began. In reality though, the celebration of the fans had already started.

By the eighth inning, the early game "Let's go Rangers" chants in the right field upper deck had ceased while the chants of "Let's go Cardinals" reached their highest pitch. The destiny that Tony La Russa and Chris Carpenter referred to after Game 6 was clearly felt by Cardinal fans.

"This was meant to be," Scott Tompkins, a St. Louis resident says. "You don't come back the way this team did last night and then waste it in a loss." The Cardinals have been coming back from deficits for quite some time now. Down 10.5 games to Atlanta in August, they got hot at the right time, a turn of events many fans haven’t forgotten, Tompkins being one of them. "I mean, we never gave up on this team but we didn’t exactly think this would happen either. Destiny is destiny, you know."

It wasn't just Tompkins and the fans actually inside the stadium celebrating either. A bundle of passionate diehards not fortunate enough to secure tickets crowded the outskirts of Ford Plaza beyond centerfield, hanging onto the railings with every pitch. Not having tickets is merely seen as a minor speed bump to this group. "My friends and I easily could have watched it at home or at a bar," Colin Timmons of Missouri says. "But we wanted to at least be at the stadium whether we had tickets or not. I've been a fan of this organization since I was born. The World Series is different. I needed to experience it in person."

Inside the home clubhouse just thirty minutes after the final out, the party was just getting started. Reliever Octavio Dotel, who before the game strolled around the clubhouse telling teammates, "let's go, this is it," has been in the big leagues for 12 seasons now and captured his first World Series, was beyond himself. "Wow, wow, wow," he yelled. "We did it again Red," he said to Red Schoendienst, the legendary Cardinals player and manager.

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Closer Jason Motte, who came within moments of being the goat after giving up the two-run Josh Hamilton blast in Game 6, ran around the clubhouse congratulating everyone and then demanding they all follow him back to the field to thank the fans. "Everyone outside, everyone outside," he yelled.

Removed from the champagne bottle popping, Tony La Russa was in his office, soaking up his third World Series title in a more subdued way. "This is something, isn't it," he marveled. Every couple of minutes, players dropped in to thank him. Dotel was the first to do so. "Thank you Tony, thank you for believing in me and putting me in." "You're welcome," La Russa said. "There is still plenty of juice left in that old arm too." "Really, you think so?" Dotel happily replied. Nearby, Bob Gibson, Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle and the heroic astronaut, Neil Armstrong, were all smiles as well.

Outside, just an hour later, the concourses of Busch Stadium were the bridge to the ensuing party on the streets. Intersections were jammed with people screaming and horns honking. For Cardinal fans, St. Louis felt like heaven. "This is our 11th title now, and my third," 38-year-old Thomas Jenkins said, as he balanced his two beers in hand. "I will tell you this; they get sweeter and sweeter every time."

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