ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Norm Sanders remembers the days of writing game stories and sending them to the newsroom on a Radio Shack TRS-80. He wrote about a Metro East quarterback who could throw with both arms, and won baseball games from the mound as a righty and lefty. He’s the founder of popular Twitter hash tags like #618hoops, #618football and #618baseball. He knew it he had been doing this a long time when he started to cover the children of men and women he first wrote about in the sports pages of the Belleville News-Democrat.
After 32 years of sports coverage, ranging from the 1985 World Series to high school state championships, Sanders has retired from sports reporting. He now works as a senior writer for McCarthy, one of St. Louis’ most well-known businesses.
He was fresh out of college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, when he was hired by the BND. Just a few days into his job he was assigned a story about the fans at Busch Stadium, during Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. That was Ozzie Smith’s famous “Go crazy folks, go crazy” walk-off home run.
“I’ll never forget that moment, and I don’t think any Cardinals fan would either,” Sanders says. “But as a guy just covering it, to see that, it’s like ‘Well heck, this is pretty fun to write about, this is going to be a good job.’”
As a Dupo, Illinois native, he knew the passion people had for their small-town teams. But what he didn’t realize was how he contributed to it.“The thing that struck me when people knew I was getting out of the sports writing business was how many people just thanked me,” Sanders says. “It was very, it was emotional even now. But you don’t realize how many people that you impact. And especially high school sports, you think ‘ah, it’s high school sports.’ But you realize how important it is to people and how much they care about high school sports.”
Sanders was also an athlete in high school, but like many of his writing colleagues, he found his niche outside of the lines.
“I put the average in average,” Sanders says. “I played in some games but was never a star player. And I just thought what can I do in my life to stay close to sports.”
He retired from sports writing this April, and now is a senior writer at McCarthy, just trying to adjust to a new 9-5 lifestyle.
“Writing is writing,” Sanders says. “But what I’ve found is in sports we have the GM, the coach, the manager and the players. So you just switch that to the construction industry and you have the same group of people. You’re just in a different capacity.”
But the old-school journalist will never leave Sanders, who still brought hand-written notes to prep for this interview.
“Some people might put it in there phone, I still like to write things down,” Sanders says. “We have meetings here and they all have different notebooks and different kinds of things and I just always felt comfortable with those, but I’m just kind of old school that way maybe.”