Horns blared, shoppers stopped and cheered, and St. Louis generally went berserk when Mark McGwire hit historic home run No. 61.
And it was even more nuts inside Busch Stadium, where McGwire lined a 1-1 first-inning pitch from the Chicago Cubs' Mike Morgan deep into the left-field seats, tying Roger Maris' 37-year-old record for most homers in a single season.Even Chicago's Sammy Sosa, who with 58 homers is chasing both Maris and McGwire, applauded into his glove in right field.
The roar from the 50,530 fans, including Maris' sons, lasted for several minutes, well into the at-bat of teammate Ray Lankford. But it only hinted at deeper emotions in this baseball-crazy town.
Many were moved to tears after watching McGwire circle the bases, slap hands with Cubs first baseman Mark Grace and third baseman Gary Gaetti, a former Cardinals teammate, before greeting his 10-year-old son Matthew at home plate with a bear hug.
"To be here, I will remember and cherish my entire life," said Rick Faccin, 44, of Alton, Ill., just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. "The reception he received and what he did as he rounded the bases gave me chills all over."
"When I saw the ball hit off the glass and I knew he tied the record, I had a few tears in my eyes," said Don Fisher, 51, of Marion, Ill. "It made me feel like I was part of history since I saw it live."
Downtown, horns blared in the minutes after McGwire's homer. TV stations interrupted programming to announce the news. Street corner vendors were hawking a special edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before the end of the game.
The Cardinals have won 15 National League pennants and nine World Series, but the city hadn't seen hysteria like this since the ticker-tape parade after Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic in the 1920s.
Red 60s were plastered everywhere - billboards, store signs, even a few bare chests. By early afternoon, 61s were already going up.