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‘Whether you’re 100 or 10, you’ve lived through some good Cardinals times,’ says Benjamin Hochman

Benjamin Hochman describes his book, “The Big 50: St. Louis Cardinals,” as “an homage … to everyone and everything that makes St. Louis a rich and rarified baseball community.” May 8, 2018
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s no sports town quite like St. Louis, if you ask native Benjamin Hochman, and that’s what makes his new volume about the St. Louis Cardinals almost more love letter than book.

“My first lullaby was Jack Buck’s voice, if you will, and I’ve always just appreciated the connection between the team and the people here,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “I’ve lived in other sports cities, and there’s nothing like St. Louis and baseball.”

“I’ve lived in Denver and they’ve got football, I’ve lived in New Orleans and they’ve got college football – there’s a connection, but there’s nothing like what we have here,” Hochman continued. “So when I had the opportunity to come back to St. Louis as the columnist for the Post-Dispatch, I always wanted to write a book that kind of captured that.”

He brings those hopes to fruition in “The Big 50: St. Louis Cardinals,” which was the focus of Hochman’s conversation with host Don Marsh.

Offering readers 50 vignettes focused on “the men and moments” that have gone down in Cardinals lore, the book’s 303 pages include essays focused on everything from shoo-ins like Ozzie Smith and Yadier Molina to lesser-known figures and stories.

Among the latter are in-depth looks at in-game emcee Todd Thomas, whose chapter is titled “That One Guy,” particular seasons and eras, a memorably stolen base and Tom Lawless’ 1987 World Series bat flip.

“I wanted to write things that hadn’t been written before,” Hochman said. “So for instance, of course there’s going to be a Stan Musial chapter. But I didn’t want to just write the basic, ‘Oh, and then this year he hit this and this year he hit that,’ so the whole chapter is about Stan and his grandson and all the restaurants they would go to around St. Louis.”

But if Hochman had to pick just one moment, as Marsh asked him during the show, that stands out as “the” Cardinals moment in his mind, it would have to be the end of Game 6 during the 2011 World Series.

The book also celebrates the Redbirds’ multigenerational fan base.

“Anybody in town has lived through some good times,” Hochman said. “Whether you’re 100 or 10, you’ve lived through some good Cardinals times because the team’s been so good, and we all share that.”

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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