Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Wonder Dog' to Mcgwire: St. Louis a Player's Dream

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Wonder Dog' to Mcgwire: St. Louis a Player's Dream

Article excerpt

Mark McGwire doesn't have to be Lewis or Clark to make a discovery on his expedition to the Midwest.

If you're a professional athlete, St. Louis is the best place in America to play ball. McGwire is feeling the goose bumps already, having received a hero's welcome in his home debut Friday night at Busch Stadium.

The recruiting season is just starting, Big Red. Just wait. The teams pay good wages, the fans offer unconditional love, the media lead cheers, the public forgives all sins. Every day is cotton candy, puppy dogs, sunshine. Modest achievements elevate an athlete to Master of the Universe Status. Lawrence Phillips (four NFL touchdowns, three arrests) receives standing ovations. Win or lose, attendance is strong. Booing is all but banned by city ordinance. The cost of living is advantageous. The lifestyle is easy. The mood is friendly. Automobiles are supplied, the best tables in the restaurants are reserved, the dinner check is picked up by a friendly hand. Need something? Need anything at all? You got it. Rex Hudler knows. He arrived in St. Louis in 1990 as an unheralded utility man. He ran into a few walls, always hustled, showed the fans his emotions. Soon, Hudler had a fan club. (I should know; I was the goof who started it.) He became a cult hero of ridiculous proportions. Hudler remains a beloved figure in St. Louis. Hudler's career batting average? Only .267. As a Cardinal, Hudler hit .252. No matter. We flipped over Rex, the Wonder Dog. We went nuts. "The great fans here made me feel like a star," said Hudler, in town as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. "It was the greatest experience of my career. The fans helped me realize my childhood dream. But it isn't just me. Athletes who come here are treated fantastically. People are so positive. They pull for their guys here. "Outside of sports, this is a great place to raise a family. This area has good morals, good Midwestern values. Good schools. The cost of living is not very high here at all. …

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