Through Sunday, McGwire was blasting a home run every 6.75 at bats, which was faster than his rate during his 70-homer season two years ago (a major league record 7.27 at bats per homer). He has lifted baseball to a new level in St. Louis, especially from Ron Ebmeier's view 120 feet above the field and just under the stadium rim in right. Ebmeier, 38, shoots six shells of fireworks whenever a Cardinal hits a home run. In 1989 he sat through 10 consecutive games without a launching. On a few other occasions over the years, he prematurely ejected on what were foul balls.
These days he must always be at the ready, allowing himself no breaks of any sort. 'T try not to drink anything before I come to work," he says. He also keeps 18 canisters loaded and carries enough ammunition to commemorate "eight or nine home runs a night."
He sits in a plexiglass box no bigger than two phone booths and can't see the rightfield wall. He's so far away even McGwire looks small. No matter. "It's a great view from up here," he said recently. Behold the scenery from on high: Every key veteran except McGwire, an unabashed Cardinal for life, was under contract to St. Louis through at least 2003. The Cardinals were in first place. St. Louis was the epicenter of the home run explosion. Business was booming.
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