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Win or lose, Cardinals fans stay true

Credo for St. Louis's die-hard supporters: Don't boo. Cheer great plays, even by the opposing team.

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Aaron Goldsmith spent weeks in April with maps, planning his mission to be the first to buy a hot dog at the new stadium of his beloved St. Louis Cardinals.

A college history major with a keen appreciation for documentary evidence, Mr. Goldsmith videotaped his conquest, from turnstile entry to concession stand purchase. Days later he auctioned the frozen hot dog on eBay, with his DVD recording, for $300.

Naturally Goldsmith put the proceeds toward two seats, purchased for $485, from the Cardinals' old, torn-down stadium. So despite lacking tickets to this year's World Series, which pits the Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers, he can watch on TV from his own not-so-cheap seats.

Such antics illustrate the depth of feeling among die-hard Cardinal fans. Like the legendary Louisville Slugger baseball bats, most here seem to have a tough core that bends but seldom breaks. Extreme loyalty and a keen sense of the game's finer points are trademark. Booing is rare. But applause for displays of skill by opposing players is not.

It's a mix of adoration, good manners, and good sense that many say helps lifts this Midwest metropolis and its beloved team in good years – and keeps them afloat in bad ones. It's been an important and well-utilized quality in recent years.

The Cardinals suffered acute embarrassment over the 2004 World Series when the Boston Red Sox steamrolled them in four games. Fans swallowed hard over one-time favorite slugger Mark McGwire's refusal to answer congressional questions on steroid use. Lately, too, there's even a nagging feeling among some that despite praise for its good looks, the new stadium may have cost taxpayers too much.

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