A (Hopefully) Brief Interlude On Bob Forsch.

October 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm (Uncategorized)

If you know me, you know that get absurdly, inordinately passionate about some very trivial and small things in the world. Rickenbacker guitars. Girls who play bass. Vespa scooters. The little puff of steam that comes off the top of a longneck when you twist the cap off. I love those things. Above all of them, though, is my adoration of all things Cardinals, as in St. Louis Cardinals. My parents made me a Cardinals fan, my brothers reinforced it, and Jack Buck on KMOX put the ring on my finger that wedded me to the Redbirds. So yeah, with the World Series going on and last night’s improbable and silly and amazing and hilarious Game 6 done and a Game 7 to start tonight, I’m absolutely giddy. And now I find out that throwing out the first pitch for Game 7 tonight in St. Louis is none other than former Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch.

Forschie. Robert Herbert Forsch. Amazing.

While most of the baseball world has by now forgotten who Bob Forsch was, which is a shame, expect the ovation at Busch Stadium tonight to be thurnderous.  Bob’s a Cardinal icon.  Good guy. Good with the fans, good clubhouse guy, maximum effort always. Forsch was a guy who looked like a ballplayer. At six-four, 200 lbs, he was what you’d picture a baseball player to be.

In grade school, Bob was my pitcher. The year I really discovered baseball and its statistical wonderments was 1977, the summer Forsch won 20 games for the only time in his career. The next season he threw the first of his two no-hitters. I was a Forsch fanatic after that. I’d spend hours outside throwing a baseball at a railroad tie retaining wall, trying to emulate Bob’s awkward, side-wheeling fall-off-the mound pitching motion. When our little league jerseys would finally arrive at practice just before our first game, I’d elbow through all the other kids like a crazed bride at a half-off wedding shop sale, frantically searching the gigantic box carton they came in for a #31–Forsch’s number.

I have no idea how or why Forsch became my guy. Maybe because he bore a striking resemblance to Luke Skywalker, and I’d just also gone bonkers for Star Wars. Maybe because every time he came to bat, Jack Buck in his gravelly voice would remind all of us in radio land that Bob was a good hitting pitcher, because he was a converted infielder (Jack seemed to work that into any broadcast that had Forsch pitching more than 4 innings.) I still remember that in the Post-Dispatch the sports editor used to put a game title on the top of every Cardinals box score, and on the one from Bob’s first no-hitter the title was “Brute Forsch”. (That title is rather comical; Forsch, for all his size, could rarely get a fastball up over 87 mph. Bob was a crafty pitcher, a fellow not blessed with particularly good stuff. Watching him pitch you’d just scratch your head and wonder how he ever got anyone out.)

I have no idea whether the Cardinals will win the World Series tonight. If they do, I’ll be going bonkers. If they don’t, I’ll be bummed, but it’ll pass. What I do know is this. I haven’t thought about Bob Forsch for a long time. Years probably. Finding out he was throwing the first pitch tonight is enough of a reward for me for this entire goofy, improbable postseason. You see, when I heard he was going to be there, I got a little misty-eyed. I discovered the 11-year-old kid in me who hero-worshipped Bob Forsch was still there. All of a sudden I was thinking of going to a baseball game with my brother Steve, he being forced to tow his snotty kid brother along with him. I thought of playing catch in the backyard with my stepdad, with me throwing with that awkward Forsch pitching motion and him laughing and suggesting that I was probably bringing it almost as hard as Bob could. All of those thoughts made me incredibly happy, and they are thoughts I haven’t thought for far too long, memories that I thought were buried long ago. I’d prefer the Cardinals to win tonight, but as far as I’m concerned, this entire postseason has been a pretty amazing gift that keeps on giving.

Go get ’em Bob…and if Tony LaRussa needs a pinch hitter late in the game it’s important to remember that Bob Forsch is a good hitting pitcher. Just sayin’.

Note the weird leg kick and resemblance to young Skywalker.



  1. WangZi said,

    Loved me some Bob Forsch..I remember the ’77 season fondly. My idol was Keith Hernandez…first when he was #18 and then when he switched to #37.

    June 15, 1983 was one of the saddest days I can recall…

    What a run…a fairy tale ending for the ages.

    Gotta love Cardinal Nation!

  2. The American Spectator : The Spectacle Blog : Bob Forsch, R.I.P. said,

    […] death comes less than a week after he threw out the first pitch before Game 7 of World Series in which the Cardinals would win their 11th World Series in franchise […]

  3. Scott Unes said,

    Bob Forsch was my guy, too. I started watching the Cardinals in 1980, and he was the most consistent pitcher for an injury-racked rotation that season. I also loved his motion, and everything about this guy just said “starting pitcher”. I was so glad in 1986, when he had another great year (14 wins in a down year for the Cards). I was sad to see him traded to the Astros in ’88, i believe he was off to another great start that year, pitching well and winning a lot of games. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Mr. Forsch for the NBC afilliate in Peoria, IL, when he came through town promoting his wonderful book a few years ago. He was such an amiable, funny guy. He made me feel like an old friend, and i’ll cherish the autograph copy he gave me. Great pitcher, great guy. He will be missed.

  4. Jan Forsch said,

    Just thinking about my late husband and looking at some things written about him. It was too painful for a long time, still is. Love what you wrote. He was absolutely the best person in the world and would have been so honored by what you wrote. Just wanted to thank you. Jan Forsch

  5. Chris said,

    Jan, thank you so much for taking the time to write. I meant what I wrote–your husband was absolutely my favorite Cardinal as a kid growing up. I was so saddened by his sudden passing. I hope that maybe throwing out that pitch before the start of Game 7 gave him a thrill of knowing just how beloved a player he was and remains in the Cardinals pantheon. Take care, and thank you for sharing your husband with us baseball fans.

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