Marty Hendin, Cards V.P., dies at 59

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Marty Hendin, the St. Louis Cardinals vice president of community relations, who had worked with the Cards organization since 1973, holding positions in public relations, marketing and community relations, died Saturday night, Jan. 12, at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, after a long illness. He was 59.

Bill DeWitt, chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals, said, “If you were a Cardinals fan over the past 35 years, there was a good chance that you had either met Marty or heard his name. He was friends with everyone from Hall of Famers to the casual fan. If you were a Cardinals fan, you were a friend of Marty. The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to Marty’s family and countless friends.”

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Mark Lamping, president of the St. Louis Cardinals, said, “No one cared more for the Cardinals than Marty. He was an institution in the St. Louis community for many years and will be missed by his co-workers and by the thousands of Cardinals fans across the country who had the pleasure of knowing him.” Words of tribute were also expressed by Frank Cusamano, sports reporter for KSDK-TV, Channel 5 and by Mike Shannon, Cardinals Hall of Famer and team announcer on KTRS-550AM.

Alice S. Handelman, president of the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis, of which Mr. Hendin was an active member, said, ‘A giant among sports giants, Marty Hendin was one of the most incredible and influential people in the St. Louis Media. A true friend of the Press Club, he recently played a key role as advisory chair of our Jack Buck National Media Person of the Year gala honoring Joe Buck. Because of his contacts and caring, Marty helped Press Club raise over $100,000 for scholarships for worthy journalism students…our communicators of the future. Marty will be sorely missed.”

Mr. Hendin, always very popular among local media, was the Press Club’s nominee to be Media Person of the Year, but modestly turned down the honor, telling the Press Club board that “my job is to make the Cardinals look good, and to stay in the background.” He diid receive the Press Club President’s Award in tribute to his service to his profession and the community.

Already a member of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Hall of Fame and the University City High School Hall of Fame, Mr. Hendin is to be inducted into the Media Hall of Fame at the Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “I am sad that he won’t be there with us, but I know he will be there in spirit,” said Handelman, who will be presenting the awards for the Advertising/PR Hall of Fame at the ceremony in June.

Marty Hendin was born March 16, 1948, the son of Pearl and Sholom Hendin. He graduated from University City Senior High School in 1966, and from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He founded the university’s first spirit club, “The Steamers,” and was sports editor of The Current, the university’s student newspaper.

Mr. Hendin served many St. Louis area civic and charitable causes, including the team’s charitable foundation, Cardinals Care. He was a longtime vice president and Public Relations Committee chair of Legal Advocates for Abused Women, which in 2003 honored him for his ten years of dedicated service. Mr. Hendin was also honored by B’nai B’rith St. Louis in 1985 with its Guardian of the Menorah Award, at an event organized by Mr. Hendin’s friend and colleague of many years, Marci Rosenberg. “There was no one in the community more deserving of recognition for his many generous deeds, professionalism and kindness than Marty Hendin,” said Marci Rosenberg. “Marty was truly one of a kind and will be deeply missed by all of his countless friends.”

Mr. Hendin was a longtime and active member of Congregation B’nai El, where he was a frequent speaker at meetings of the Temple Brotherhood and Sisterhood, and other events.

In his report on Mr. Hendin’s death for KSDK-TV, Channel 5, Frank Cusamano described Hendin as the “quintessential professional and St. Louis Cardinals fan, a man who loved his job and loved his office. He worked 16-hour days and loved every minute of it. He loved his office, which was filled with Cards memorabilia he collected through the years.” In his report, Brad Choat on KMOX 1120AM, said “his office at the previous Busch Stadium was known as ‘Trinket City’ for the collection of promotional giveaways he kept over the years.”

Mr. Hendin was featured in a book titled Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work, by Leslie Yerkes, in which he described his job and why he loved it so much. “As VP of Community Relations, I represent the St. Louis Cardinals in community events and on charity boards and committees. I do the special events and take care of the celebrities who come to the stadium. Everything we do, I try to make it fun. Whether its a meeting or giving a speech, I like to keep things light-hearted. There’s no such thing as a ‘dull’ or ‘normal’ day. Even though we play 81 home games a year, every game is different. We like to honor people who have brought honor to our area, so, as soon as I saw that a kid from St. Louis won a National Spelling Bee, I brought him in to throw out the first pitch at a game. I pride myself on being quick-witted, and I enjoy making people laugh.”

Mr. Hendin is survived by his mother, Pearl; his wife, Ronna Hendin; a son, Rob Hendin; daughter-in-law, Lauren Aronson, and a sister, Linda Harber.

Visitation was to be held before the funeral service, which conducted by Rabbi Daniel Plotkin at B’nai El, 11411 North Outer 40 Road, St. Louis, Mo. 63131. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Marty Hendin Fund at B’nai El, Cardinals Care, March of Dimes and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of St. Louis.