Celebrating ‘A Miracle World Series’ — And That Game 6 — In Hochman’s ‘11 In ’11’
“In St. Louis,” writes Benjamin Hochman in his new book, “it’s a question asked on first dates and business lunches, in line to check out at Schnucks, or while getting a Busch at Busch. It’s an icebreaker and a way to instantly bond.
“It’s the new ‘where did you go to high school,’” Hochman continues. Only it’s about baseball, and the 10-year-old, 11-inning game that may well be the greatest in World Series history:
“Where were you for Game 6?”
Hochman shares a half-dozen Game 6 stories throughout the course of the book, “11 in ’11: A Hometown Hero, La Russa’s Last Ride in Red and a Miracle World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals.” He discusses the art it inspired, the bar named after it and the fans who earned 15 minutes of fame because of it.
He also talks to the players: David Freese, who hit the game-tying triple in the 9th inning and the game-winning home run in the 11th; Mark Lowe, who took the loss; and the many, many other supporting characters who surrounded them. Reading his book, it’s hard to argue with his assessment that Game 6 is the greatest World Series game of all time.
“How is it not?” he asked on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. It came down to the final strike — twice. A team was about to win the World Series on the final strike and didn't get it. Then they had another chance, the Texas Rangers. And they didn't do it again. That's never happened before. I can't imagine I cannot imagine it ever happening again.”
A columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hochman also explores the unlikely road the Redbirds took to World Series victory in 2011 — from battling from 10½ games back in late August just to claim a wild card berth to going all the way against the Texas Rangers. That, like Game 6, came down to the wire.
“The Braves fell apart,” Hochman recalled. “But it wasn't just that the Braves lost; the Cardinals had to win and St. Louis did so well. In that September, it led up to the final game of the regular season, the team needed to win, and they needed the Braves to lose. And both things happened.”
A miracle, indeed. Hochman said he still gets chills listening to Joe Buck call the climactic moments of Game 6 — and the show featured comments from several listeners who said they keep the game on DVR and rewatch it regularly for the jolt of joy it brings.
We also heard many other great answers to St. Louis’ Game 6 question — among them, a caller named Sandy from Creve Coeur who recalled sneaking into Busch Stadium mid-game.
“We were going to watch the game out by the fence, and it just happened as we're walking down Broadway, some of those gates were open and there wasn't an attendant at the gate,” she recalled. “So one of us snuck in, then two of us snuck in, then all six of us snuck into the stadium. We said, ‘Oh my God, we're in here.' And we went out to the patio and just pretended like we were supposed to be there and nobody saw us.”
But as Freese hit his game-tying triple, and the game went into extra innings, Sandy recalled, “A Texas Ranger [fan] came out and slammed these tickets down on our table and said, ‘This game sucks.' So we all went inside, and we were in there for David Freese’s home run that won the game. It was incredible. We were just screaming and yelling and it was incredible that we were there.”
Pete, calling from south St. Louis, offered the flip side to Sandy’s miracle tickets. He’d had perfect tickets for the game, but an ominous weather prediction pushed the game back a day. “And since it got delayed by a day, I'm a musician, and I decided I was going to play a show instead of going to the game,” he recalled. “Little did I know that it was going to be the greatest World Series game in history.”
He added, “It's pretty much a daily occurrence, or at least weekly, that Game 6 gets brought up and then I get to tell my shame story of missing the entire thing.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.