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ST. LOUIS — Rick Hummel, an esteemed writer who covered the St. Louis Cardinals and Major League Baseball for five decades for the Post-Dispatch until his retirement last year, has died. He was 77.

Hummel died in his sleep at his St. Louis-area home early Saturday after a short, aggressive illness, the Post-Dispatch said Monday.

He was nicknamed “The Commish” for running an American Professional Baseball Association board game with colleagues, and the moniker became so widespread throughout baseball that even Commissioners Bud Selig and Rob Manfred called Hummel by the label.

“The 51-year ride, except for a couple of broken windows, has been a smooth one,” Hummel wrote in a farewell column in the Post-Dispatch last November. “I got to cover countless Cardinals playoffs, including three World Series champions, 35 World Series and the past 42 All-Star games, starting and ending in Dodger Stadium. There was the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run chase of 1998 and `Whiteyball’ in the mid-1980s when Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals played a different game than any other club in baseball.”

“It is possible, perhaps probable, that I had more bylined articles in the Post-Dispatch – certainly in the sports section – than anyone else who ever has worked there. And, of that, I’m proud.”

Hummel was born on Feb. 25, 1946, in Quincy, Illinois. He attended Quincy High School, Quincy College and the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, receiving a journalism degree in 1968.

He worked for the Colorado Springs Free Press/Sun while also serving in the U.S. Army and was hired in 1971 by Bob Broeg, the celebrated former Cardinals beat writer who was sports editor of the Post-Dispatch.

Hummel first started covering baseball in 1973 and was subbing for baseball writer Neal Russo on a trip to Cincinnati when he covered Tom Seaver’s no-hitter on June 16, 1978. Hummel took over as Cardinals beat writer through 2002, then served two decades as the paper’s national baseball writer.

“I was dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming,” Hummel wrote last year. “When I broke in here, the newsroom was typewriters, pneumatic tubes and editors yelling, `Copy!'”

Since retiring, he had written several baseball stories during spring training and early this season for The Associated Press.

Hummel was the 2006 winner of the Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, which in 2021 was renamed the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Career Excellence Award.

He was selected Missouri Sportswriter of the Year four times by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, was BBWAA president in 1994, was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. The Cardinals named their media area the Bob Broeg-Rick Hummel Press Box.

He wrote “Tom Seaver’s Scouting Notebook” with Tom Seaver and Bob Nightengale, “The Commish and the Cardinals: The Most Memorable Games, as Covered by Hall of Famer Rick Hummel for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” “One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season” with Tony La Russa and “Get Up, Baby!: My Seven Decades With the St. Louis Cardinals” with Mike Shannon.

Hummel is survived by his wife, Melissa; three children from previous marriages: son Scott Hummel and daughters Christy and Lauren; step-daughter Camilla Grone; and five grandchildren.

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Longtime St. Louis Cardinals, MLB writer Rick Hummel, dies at 77