On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced that Mike Shannon, the long-time voice of the club's radio broadcasts, would return to the booth in 2014 and perhaps beyond. To this writer, it was the most important personnel move the club made this offseason. While Jhonny Peralta may be receiving $53 million over the next four years from the Cardinals, St. Louis fans will be getting hundreds of games with Shannon on the call thanks to the multi-year extension the club inked him to this week.
This past season, Shannon missed a large chunk of the year due to health problems. The Voice of the Cardinals required heart surgery, but was able to return in time for the postseason. Nonetheless, it caused concern here at VEB and elsewhere in Cardinaldom that Shannon may have called his last ballgame after October came to a close. Thank the gods of baseball the concerns over Shannon's broadcasting future have proven baseless and he is returning for 2014 at least.
It seems quaint in this era of satellite television and MLB.tv, but there were two ways I could catch a Cards game when I was growing up in central Iowa: (1) On WGN, if I was at a friend's house and the Cards were playing the Cubs; and (2) On the radio. There's nothing quite like baseball on the radio. As a young Cardinals fan, it was me, the radio, and a scorebook. I was first introduced to Mike Shannon back then. Over the years since, I've come to view him as a relative that the greater Cardinals family and I get together with on game days to hear his baseball stories and recitation of the game action. I doubt I'm the only one.
Does Shannon use pronouns too often? Absolutely. Does he forget to give the count after each pitch? Yes. Does Shannon butcher players' names? Uh huh. Does Shannon do all this with the joy of a man who loves baseball to his very core? Undeniably. And that is what makes him so enjoyable, flaws and all.
Unfortunately, Shannon will be "on assignment" for about 50 of the Cardinals' away games. Filling his empty seat with equally empty analysis will be Ricky Horton and Al Hrabosky. Cards fans will have to pay careful attention to the radio broadcast lineup in order to avoid the uninformed droning of the radio lefty relief corps. But let's not focus on Hrabosky or Horton. For Shannon is returning and this is great news.
Each season, I'm so starved for baseball that I binge on early-season television broadcasts. It doesn't take long, however, for me to drift back to the radio for Shannon and his partner
Mike John Rooney. So enjoyable are these broadcasts. By the time September rolls around, I largely listen just to the radio broadcasts of Cards games. I want to drink in every minute with a moon man I've never met but who feels like a family member. After all, you never know how many more times we'll be able to get together for a Shannon-called Cards game. So I'm thrilled with Monday's announcement, which means we'll be getting 100+ Shannon-called Cardinals games in 2014.