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New children’s book highlighting Cardinals baseball greats promotes bonding between generations

Ed Wheatley joined Don Marsh for a discussion about his illustrated children’s book “Incredible Cardinals.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For St. Louis Cardinals fans of a certain age, the players painted on the left field wall of Busch Stadium evoke fond memories of baseball heroes of days gone by. But for younger fans, the names Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst and even Stan Musial may not even register, much less Dizzy Dean.

To rectify that matter, local author Ed Wheatley and illustrator Ed Koehler have created a book for children featuring St. Louis Cardinals greats who are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame as well as some who may be future inductees.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Wheatley about the new book “Incredible Cardinals,” and how it can foster conversation between young fans, their parents and grandparents.

The project comes on the heels of the book and film Wheatley co-authored on the history of the St. Louis Browns. In fact it was the interest generated by those that prompted him to illuminate the Cardinals history, too.

“We’re starting to find out [that] people in St. Louis, we have a love affair with the Cardinals, [but] too often it’s the present and we forget the past,” Wheatley said. “We triggered memory with the Browns, and going back and doing it with the Cardinals, we wanted to do the same thing.”

Wheatley literally used the phrase “out in left field” as the inspiration for the book. In this case, it was the mural of Cardinals stars painted on the left field wall of the new Busch Stadium.

“People stare at that left field wall,” Wheatley said. “What if we brought them to life, told their story in a short stanza, paragraph form, [with] a little rhyme to it to attract children with these unbelievable illustrations?”

The author’s hope is that as parents and grandparents read the book to their children, they will add their own memories of the Cardinal heroes. Said Wheatley, “You can go in and say, ‘I saw Lou Brock steal 104 or 105’ or [remember] how he did this in the World Series, and that becomes the bond between the parent or grandparent and the child.”

Because “Incredible Cardinals” was released just before Red Schoendienst passed away, it also served as a nice way to remember that multi-faceted Cardinal hero.

“The thing about Red,” Wheatley said, “we had his picture with multiple arms because he’s got a bat, he’s got a ball, he’s got a glove, he’s got a clipboard, he’s got World Series trophies. Red could do it all.” 

Related Event

What: Ed Wheatley Signing
When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 24, 2018
Where: Abigail’s Gift Boutique (5611 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, MO 63109)

What: Ed Wheatley Signing
When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Where: Novel Neighbor (7905 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, MO 63119)

What: Ed Wheatley Signing
When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 7, 2018
Where: Main Street Books (307 S. Main St., St Charles, MO 63301)

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Mary Edwards is a producer for St. Louis Public Radio's broadcast program, "St. Louis Symphony."