‘11 in 11’ captures the emotions of an incredible Cardinals World Series championship

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ALEC BARIS, DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER

The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals took fans on a wild ride, ultimately leading to their 11th World Series Championship. Years after, I still can’t put into words the experience of witnessing Game 6 in person. Fortunately, Benjamin Hochman has the words.

Hochman, who is a sports columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has done this journey justice with his newly released book, “11 in 11: A Hometown Hero, La Russa’s Last Ride in Red, and a Miracle World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals” ($28, Triumph Books). It tells the story of the 11th World Series championship in Cardinals history, including that fateful Game 6 when the team overcame being down to their last strike twice.

While this book is about the players and staff that made the journey possible, it’s also a book about St. Louis itself. It captures the essence of the city, what it means to be a member of Cardinals Nation and how the team’s incredible ride touched and defined a whole new generation of fans in this baseball-crazed town.

The book begins with a foreword by 2011 pitching ace Chris Carpenter, and tells the story of this ball club, the chemistry it had, and the rollercoaster they went on after being 10 ½ games out of the Wild Card race.

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“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything that I did if it wasn’t for the group of dudes who were around me,” Carpenter says in the foreword. “We really cared about one another and were rooting for each other more than ourselves.”

Hochman’s book dives into several Cardinal legends’ swan songs with the club, including Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who battled the shingles virus to go out on top as a world champion.

In addition, Albert Pujols’ “last ride” as a Cardinal gets the tribute it deserves; he left  the team the following season in free agency. Hochman touches on Pujols’ regular season heroics, his struggles with injury and defining moment in Cardinals red, when he hit three home runs in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.

Obviously, local boy David Freese gets a lot of attention, having grown up in Wildwood, and overcoming obstacles at the amateur level only to be traded to his hometown team where his name is now etched in Cardinals history for his World Series heroics. Down to his last strike, Freese hit a game tying triple in Game 6 of the World Series to keep the Cardinals alive. He later further cemented his legacy by hitting a walk-off home run to send the World Series to a 7th and final game, which the Cardinals ultimately won, beating the Texas Rangers by a score of 6 to 2.

Not only does Hochman’s book describe the experience through the lens of the players, but it also gives readers firsthand accounts of the fans who witnessed it. One of those fans is me. Hochman tasked fellow sportswriter and my good friend, Eli Lederman, with finding several Cardinals fans to recall their 2011 memories. Knowing what a big Cardinals fan I am and how much 2011 meant to me, Lederman gave me the opportunity to share my story, like so many others get to do in this book.

What makes the fan experiences special is how unique each person’s take on the series is. Whether it was an account from a young fan (like me), a player on the team, or a sportswriter, each perspective digs deeper into why 2011 meant so much.

“To say that’s a dream come true is bogus,” MLB Network Analyst and St. Louis native Greg Amsinger says in the book, referring to the Cards’ 2011 season “No one could ever dream that up. There’s not a kid that could even dream that that would happen. It’s beyond a dream come true.”

“11 in 11,” is Hochman’s fourth book, and second about the Cardinals. A graduate of Clayton High, he studied journalism at Mizzou and spent several years at the Denver Post before being offered his dream job as a sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch in 2015. He is married to Angela Hochman, who serves as director of communications at CRC; the couple have an one-year-old daughter named Olsen.

“11 in 11,” is available for purchase at 11in11book.com, as well as on Amazon.com, and through Triumph Books.