• Gazette 2.0

A fish sandwich changed my life


By Ken Hohman


-Opinion-


I’ll always remember the year of 1975. I was 15 years old, getting ready to get off the bus by the Hilton Hotel in Pittsburgh to go visit my grandmother for the weekend.


As I exited the bus, I saw this gentleman crossing the street heading toward Stanwix Street. The minute I saw him I recognized him as baseball legend Lou Brock — the “base-stealing icon” for the St. Louis Cardinals.


I followed him into Market Square where I was supposed to catch my next bus. He was heading over toward the Oyster House, so I followed him but this time I ran to catch up. I tapped him on the shoulder.


“Sir, are you Lou Brock?” I asked.


“Yes, I am son,” said Brock. “How did you know who I am?”


I reached in my bag and pulled out his baseball card. He asked me if I had a pen and happily signed my card.


He then asked me if I was hungry. I said yes, as any sensible person would if asked by Lou Brock.


He asked me to wait while he went in and bought me a fish sandwich. I’ll never forget that sandwich.


The fact that this baseball star and legend would take time out of his day to buy a sandwich for a random 15-year-old boy touched my heart in ways that I can’t explain. I was and still am a huge baseball fan. So, you can imagine the impact this had on my life as a young man.


I would never forget this and would recount the story for years to come.


Exactly a decade later when I was in my 20s I flew to St. Louis to visit a family member. At the airport was a sports store named after none other than Lou Brock.


I stopped in with no other intentions than to browse the merchandise and be on my way. But much to my joy, I see that same gentleman who changed my life many years ago.


I walked up to him and reminisced about the chance meeting 10 years prior. He asked me if I still had the baseball card; I did. Seeing that I had a Pittsburgh Pirates hat on, he asked me to take it off and handed me a St. Louis Cardinal hat instead. He gave me the hat because I remembered that story and signed that as well.


Once again, I would be touched by this legend.


Brock died on Sept. 5 at the age of 81. Hearing the news of his passing brought back these fond memories of someone, who in my opinion, is a hero — what you call a class act. I will forever be grateful for his kindness and know that his legacy will always live on.

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