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Baseball and the Arch - by the numbers

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 10, 2009 - In keeping with the theme of “Arches on Parade,” here are some stats about the Gateway Arch and Cardinals baseball:

3 million: Visitors to the Arch grounds in a year, including the attendance at Fair St. Louis. During the 2008 season, the Cardinals beat that figure by about a half-million at Busch Stadium. (Photo by Rachel Heidenry for the Beacon)

630 feet: Height of the Arch.

Picture in your mind the longest home run hit this season by Albert Pujols at Busch Stadium -- 445 feet on June 30 -- and add another 185 feet. (For the record, the website Hit Tracker put that blast at 465 feet.)

1963: The triangular sections of the Arch began to be stacked into place like so many building blocks.

Also, the season Stan The Man Musial retired. (And Red Schoendienst, too.)

1968: The Arch was formally dedicated in May by Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall.

That fall, the Cardinals won the National League pennant behind the pitching of Bob Gibson whose ERA was an astonishing 1.12. Gibson won 22 games and the NL Cy Young award as well as MVP.

2005: St. Louisans celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Arch’s “topping out” – the day the cornerstone section was dropped into place, connecting the two monster legs on the riverbank.

Ironically, Busch Stadium II met the wrecking ball after the 2005 season. The stadium, with its beloved “cookie cutter” design, had been built during the Arch construction years. (Maybe they should’ve used stainless steel.)

$13 million: Cost of Arch construction, including the transportation system.

That figure is close to what ace Chris Carpenter is getting paid this year. Steeee-rike!

25: Number of visitors in millions who’ve ridden the Arch’s two passenger trams to the top. (No numbers available on the scaredy-cats who turned back at the last minute.)

Also the jersey number of Mark McGwire. Remember him?

17: Way, way, up there … that’s the dimension in feet of the Arch at the very top.

Also, the number of the Gas House Gang’s Dizzy Dean – which is somehow very appropriate for those of us with acrophobia.

(The dimension of the Arch is 54 feet at the bottom.)

5: Passenger capacity of the Arch’s tram capsules.

Also, the number of first baseman you-know-who, this year’s top All-Star vote-getter.

Sources: National Park Service; www.BaseballAlmanac.com; www.Baseball-Reference.com.

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.