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MARK S. SMITH
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Obama is hailing the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals as heroes - and calling them the "greatest comeback team in the history of baseball."

PHOTOS - Cardinals visit White House

At a White House ceremony Tuesday, the president recounted the emotional roller-coaster that started with the Cardinals far back in the playoff race and ended with their seven-game triumph over the Texas Rangers in the Fall Classic last November. He also praised the team for its public service ethic.

First lady Michelle Obama, celebrating her 48th birthday, took part in the East Room event. But two key figures of the championship season were absent. Manager Tony La Russa retired after the series. And star Albert Pujols signed a $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in the off season.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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