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Fan for life savors memory of his World Series adventure

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 26, 2011 - Two months after the World Series, Cardinals fan Travis Weihermuller is still reveling in the team's unexpected 11th franchise championship, despite the off-season twists and turns that have left Cardinal Nation questioning how the Redbirds will fare in 2012.

See ya in Cooperstown, Tony.

Breaking up is hard to do, Former No. 5.

Weihermuller, 22, was among the fans interviewed by the St. Louis Beacon at Busch Stadium after Game 7 on Oct. 28. A Cardinals fan since he was 5, Weihermuller had watched the night before at his home in Williamsport, Pa., as the Cardinals and Texas Rangers battled in the epic back-and-forth Game 6 that tied the Series. Afterward, he decided that no matter what it took, he HAD TO BE THERE the next night. So Weihermuller got on the internet, bought a ticket to baseball heaven and then packed his bag and drove to Harrisburg to catch a flight.

Never mind that he had to pay $500 for his ticket high above deep right field. Or that his plane fare cost $600. Or that he'd gotten only a couple of hours of sleep because he'd been traveling since the wee hours of the morning. Or that he risked being fired. This diehard baseball fan -- who had never before been to St. Louis or a Cardinals game -- still insists that the experience was priceless.

And, as it turns out, Weihermuller didn't get fired, though he recently quit that job at a restaurant to focus on his own web design company.

"The business has gone steady and it's gotten to the point where it's consistent and it keeps me busy seven days a week, 60 hours a week,'' he said in a phone interview. "I'm just following that dream and going with that."

He emphasized that his whirlwind World Series adventure was not something he normally does.

"Looking back on it, I'm kind of shocked that I did it,'' he said. "It was Game 6; I was so amped up,'' he said. "But with Tony La Russa retiring and Albert Pujols leaving, it was the game to go to.''

Weihermuller said he was surprised by LaRussa's retirement, announced the day after the victory parade. La Russa had managed the team for 16 years.

"Tony La Russa is the reason I like the Cardinals. I looked up to him. But I think he did it on the best note he possibly could,'' he said.

As far as Pujols signing that quarter of a billion dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels, Weihermuller said it was a business decision.

"It is what it is. He has every right to get the money he wants,'' he said. "It's like a breakup of a relationship. I think a lot of fans are in denial and are just angry. In a few months the real opinions are going to be formed. I think it's way too soon now."

And he pointed out that the situation could have been worse for Cardinals fans.

"Imagine if they'd left and the Cardinals hadn't won the World Series,'' he said.

Weihermuller said he will remain a Cardinals fan, even though La Russa and Pujols had been part of the team ever since he's followed the Redbirds.

"The reason I like the Cardinals is it's a culture,'' he said. "Cardinals fans are knowledgeable. And despite having a mid-range budget the Cardinals are always successful.''

Weihermuller said that losing Pujols' bat will leave a big void in the lineup, and he doesn't have high hopes for next season.

"But who knows,'' he added. "Look at last season. You can't predict it."

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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