When St. Louis banker William A. Donius stepped up to home plate at Busch Stadium Monday, he was wielding a five-foot-long check for $20,000 instead of a baseball bat.

On behalf of the Mortgage Bankers Association of St. Louis, Mr. Donius presented the symbolic check to an official of Major League Baseball's Cardinals for the benefit of the area's homeless. The team has a nonprofit arm that distributes money to charitable groups.

The association and its 50 bank members together give $100 for each Cardinal home run as part of a three-year-old Homers for the Homeless program.

"The more successful the players are, the more the mortgage bankers have to pay," said Mr. Donius, who is chief executive officer of $216 million- asset Pulaski Bank and co-chairman of Homers for the Homeless.

The giant check symbolized the minimum contribution the lenders plan to make at the end of the season. Of course, they will have to give more if the Cardinals hit more than 200 homers this year. They moved closer to that total during Monday's game when slugger Mark McGwire hit his seventh home run of the season in the sixth inning.

Mr. McGwire's tater should eventually help the homeless, and it definitely helped the Cardinals, who defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 5- 2. - Laura Pavlenko Lutton

Arizona credit unions signed up more than 1,100 potential new members last weekend in the parking lots of Sam's Club stores.

To capitalize on federal legislation passed last year, 60 federal and state-chartered credit unions staged membership drives in the lots of five stores in metropolitan Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Yuma.

"We didn't want to lose the momentum from HR 1151," said Gary Plank, executive director of the Arizona Credit Union League.

HR 1151-signed into law by President Clinton last August-allows credit unions to go outside traditional common bonds to recruit members.

The credit union booths were manned by employees sporting "We Can C.U. Now" T-shirts. Festivities included bobbing for $20 and $100 bills and a raffle for a Ford Escort.

Mr. Plank said he was pleased at the response-1,136 potential new members.

"It went as good as can be expected for hustling people for four hours in a park

ing lot," Mr. Plank said.

The league has also set up an "800" number, he said, which people can call to find whether they are eligible to join a credit union.

- Matt Andrejczak

If investors were caught off-guard by Coddle Creek Financial Corp.'s 62% first-quarter earnings decline, they had only themselves to blame.

The Mooresville, N.C., company reported earnings of 32 cents per share for the quarter ended March 31, compared with 84 cents a year earlier. The reduction was the result of a $400,000 charge taken by Coddle Creek to buy stock for the company's executive option plan-which was approved by shareholders in January.

Coddle Creek president George Brawley Jr. said shareholders "overwhelmingly" supported the option plan at the January special meeting. Nevertheless, he said, he has fielded calls in the last month from confused investors who are wondering why earnings fell so sharply.

Mr. Brawley has been able to calm fears by stressing that this was a one-time charge. Without it, Coddle Creek's earnings would have grown 8%, to 91 cents per share, he said.

- Louis Whiteman

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