St. Louis Cardinals and baseball fans alike got a treat Thursday when former Cardinals player and current voice of the Cardinals Mike Shannon visited Effingham County.
He appeared at Wessel’s in Teutopolis from 11 a.m. through 1 p.m. before appearing at Top Shelf Beer Wine & Spirits in Effingham from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Shannon played for the Cardinals for nine seasons, finishing the 1968 season seventh in the voting for Most Valuable Player.
At the event, Shannon signed baseballs and other memorabilia for fans who lined up to meet the the two-time World Series Champion.
Shannon’s playing career ended after the 1970 season after contracting nephritis, a kidney disease. But Shannon was the last player to hit a home run at the old Busch Stadium [Sportsman’s Park] and the first one for the Cardinals in the second [Busch Memorial Stadium].
“It would’ve been worse if I wasn’t,” Shannon said.
In terms of his all-time favorite moments as a player, Shannon cited Game 1 of the 1964 World Series.
“I hit a home run off Whitey Ford in my home town,” Shannon said.
The home run tied the game in the bottom of the sixth and ended in a 9-5 Cardinal win.
After a brief stint with the Cardinals promotional team, he moved to the radio booth where he was paired for almost 30 years with Jack Buck. Shannon shared what he did to learn from the great Buck.
“I just kept my ears open and my mouth shut,” Shannon said. “That’s how you learn.
This marks the fiftieth season Shannon has been in the booth. Since 2016, he has only done home games and announced prior to this season, that this would be his last.
“The biggest compliment I get as a broadcaster is from the visibly impaired,” Shannon said. “When they come to the game, they bring their radio to know what’s going on. That’s the biggest compliment I get. I know I’m doing my job.”
Shannon talked about how fortunate he was to have called the Cardinals winning multiple World Series as well as winning two in his playing days.
“Nothing replaces being a player, nothing,” Shannon said. “But the second best is being a broadcaster.”
Shannon agrees that the game has changed quite a bit over the last decade, even more than when he was in his playing days.
“The game has changed to now, they swing for the home run and strikeouts are high,” Shannon said. “They don’t play smallball anymore.”
When it came to the big moments he was fortunate to call, Shannon said he left those moments up to Buck.
“Some of them I turned over to [Buck],” Shannon said. “I figured he was there for so many years, I just walked away from the microphone. Jack was there, so he had no choice but to do it. I did that twice to him.”
Of all the moments Shannon has called, he still remembers the home run from Mark McGwire that broke the home run record on his sixty-second home run of the season, that just barely got over the fence in the left-field corner. He also recalled Glenn Brummer, former Effingham High School graduate, and his steal of home.
“That’s where my home run call ‘get up baby, get up, get up...oh yeah!’ It just barely got in there,” Shannon said. “With Bummer stealing home, the umpire was right out in front of home plate and the ball was right down the middle for strike three, but he called him safe. But if I saw Brummer coming down the line, I’d get out of the way too.”
In regards to this year’s team, Shannon echoed his sentiment to the ways of old in baseball.
“They need pitching,” Shannon said. “Pitching and defense have been winning pennants for over 100 years and they will continue to win it for the next 100 years. Anybody who doesn’t concentrate on pitching and defense is an idiot.”
According to a press release from the St. Louis Cardinals back in March, the club plans to have a Mike Shannon bobblehead promotional giveaway for fans in attendance. The exact game has yet to be determined.