Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

BenFred: St. Louis Turned Yankees Slugger Voit Hopes New Book Helps Both Children and First Responders

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

BenFred: St. Louis Turned Yankees Slugger Voit Hopes New Book Helps Both Children and First Responders

Article excerpt

My pitch barely missed.

I've said for years that Luke Voit's journey, one that launched a St. Louis kid who grew up idolizing Mark McGwire to a debut for his hometown Cardinals before -- plot twist! -- a trade turned him into a Yankees fan favorite, would make a pretty compelling movie.

Turns out "Luke's Baseball Story" is finally happening, but it's coming to a bookshelf instead of the silver screen.

This story, the one about how Voit's story became a children's book, starts with a ballplayer making a visit to an elementary school in the Bronx.

The students went crazy when Voit showed up to read to them last season. The slugger left wanting to do more trips like this, and wanting to bring something meaningful with him when he did.

Luke's wife, Victoria, used to be a teacher at Oak Brook Elementary in Ballwin. When the Lafayette High grad still played for the Cardinals, he would stop by his wife's classroom to read to the students, sometimes bringing a teammate along with him. A light bulb flashed during that school visit in the Bronx.

"We thought it would be a good idea to have a story about me, being a little kid growing up to become a professional baseball player," Voit said by phone. "It's not only about being a professional baseball player. You can be a doctor. An astronaut. Whatever you want to be. If you work hard, listen and pay attention to your elders, big things can happen to you."

Few are better positioned to deliver this uplifting message than Voit, the 29-year-old first baseman who overcame a long list of potential snares -- three labrum tears, a 22nd-round draft pick and four-plus seasons in the minors -- to play for the two teams that lead their respective leagues in World Series championships won.

"Never thought I would be in this spot," Voit said.

Neither the Yankees nor the Cardinals are mentioned in the book Voit and author Richard Torrey teamed up to produce. In the story, Voit plays for a team called The Stars. The pages focus on Voit as a kid. The plan is to teach young readers about the lessons Voit believes shaped him into the man he is today.

"Work hard," Voit summarized.

And play hard. Always.

Back before Voit was teammates with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, his most valuable teammate was his little brother, John. The bash brothers of Wildwood ate and fought and played the same way -- relentlessly. Their backyard competitions became legendary. They produced a few scars, countless stories laughed about years later and two incredibly tough young men who have a shared habit of working their way through whatever obstacle is placed in their paths. …

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