The Readbirds

The life stories of St. Louis' pro-baseball teams are lovingly chronicled in Peter Golenbock's The Spirit of St. Louis: A History of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns

As much as Golenbock admires stars such as Musial, the principal delights of The Spirit of St. Louis are the voices of the journeymen, the role players such as Carl Warwick of the '64 Cards or the Browns' Ellis Clary. "Just hearing Ellis Clary talk about the '44 and '45 Browns to me is worth the price of buying this book alone," Golenbock enthuses. "He was enthralling to me. The fourth outfielder, the backup shortstop -- very often those are the guys who notice the most. I find that the men who sit on the bench tend to look at the bigger picture. The stars get up and hit the ball. They know what their role is, they know who they are, and they know where they fall in the heavens. The foot soldiers tend to view the game differently. Very often they need to use their head more; they need every little bit to keep them in the major leagues. They're gathering this information as they're sitting and viewing what's going on."

Golenbock's The Spirit of St. Louis takes the same distanced perspective of those players, gazing backward with clarity and insight. But its author also admits to looking forward to a successful campaign by the Cardinals in 2000: "It's amazing how many books you can sell when your team wins."

Peter Golenbock discusses and signs his book at 7 p.m. Monday, April 24, at Library Ltd., 7700 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call 721-0378.

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