Steve with Baseball Personalities
Bob Broeg(1918-2005) I take great pride in the friendship that developed between me and the legendary St. Louis sportswriter, beginning in 1999. We didn't hit it off well the first time we met, at the St. Louis Browns Historical Society (Fan Club) banquet that year. Bob told me that Urban Shocker, the first ballplayer I was researching, had a drinking problem. When I questioned his source (which I always did to verify and cite my sources), Bob was somewhat taken aback that I was questioning him. We soon built a strong relationship, and I would usually get together with him on my many trips (Shocker research) to St. Louis. We would often have lunch at a German restaurant (now closed), and sometimes we'd run into Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith having lunch there.
Bob was my connection to St. Louis baseball of the late teens and 1920s because he "cut his teeth" at the side of J. Roy Stockton, the sports editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when Bob was a young sportswriter. Stockton and Ed Wray (John E. Wray) passed on so much early St. Louis baseball history to Bob. Bob later became the sports editor of the Post-Dispatch; he was recognized for so many awards over his colorful career. One of the last, his induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, was very special to him, and he enjoyed signing a copy of the event's poster for me.
One of my biggest disappointments in my writing career was that Bob lost his eyesight just before my Arcadia book, Baseball in St. Louis, 1900-1925, was published. My book has 180 photos, images I wanted to see Bob look at and hear him talk about with me. He was hoping to regain his eyesight from a surgery he had, but he never did get it back.
The last time Bob and I spent a lot of time together (it may have been in 2004 (I saw him one more time, briefly), Bob insisted on taking me as his guest to a lunch with his regular friends at Maggie Obrien's, near Union Station. In a large room with tables laid out in a big square was a gathering of men who met for lunch on a regular basis. These were St. Louis's sports veterans: a group of writers, coaches, players, managers, and umpires. I did not know most of them: they included former baseball manager Whitey Herzog and former NBA great of the 1950s "Easy Ed" Macauley. They would get together and talk about sports over lunch. As the gathering ended, one by one, many of the men came over to Bob, seated next to me, to say hello (or maybe goodbye?) Each had to identify himself for Bob because he could not see anyone.
I'm a baseball historian, a researcher and writer. But if I boil it all down, I see myself as a storyteller. I am honored and blessed to have known one of the National Pastime's greatest storytellers of all time, Bob Broeg.