Mike Shannon, beloved St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster and player, dies at the age of 83

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Mike Shannon, a native St. Louisian who played nine seasons for the Cardinals and spent 50 years behind the microphone as the team’s radio voice, has died, the team announced Sunday. He was 83.

Shannon was a member of the first Cardinals Hall of Fame Class in 2014, and upon his retirement at the end of the 2021 season, the radio broadcast booth at Busch Stadium was named in his honor. He was a member of the 1964 and 1967 World Champions, and it was his voice alongside Jack Buck’s and John Rooney’s that created the indelible soundtrack to countless highlights over his five decades as a broadcaster. For his work in that field, he was previously a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters, bestowed by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Judy. He’s survived by his wife, Lori, three sons, three daughters, 18 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

In a statement, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “the St. Louis Cardinals were saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Cardinals Hall of Famer and beloved St. Louisan Mike Shannon. Mike’s unique connection to Cardinals fans and his teammates was reflected in his unbridled passion for the game, the Cardinals, and the St. Louis community. On behalf of the entire Cardinals organization, we share our condolences with Mike’s family and friends, and his many fans.”

On behalf of the Shannon family, his son Tim Shannon said, “my dad’s life was encapsulated by his devotion to his family, his friends, the Cardinals organization and the St. Louis community. My dad lived his life to the fullest, and he squeezed every drop from it.”

Shannon’s unique delivery and charming malapropisms helped shape him into a unique character who imparted a great deal of his own charm onto the already wide reach of Cardinals baseball as broadcast primarily by KMOX.

His enthusiastic endorsements for Anheuser-Busch products and his long standing stint as a restaurateur in downtown St. Louis only reinforced his place in the local baseball culture, but Shannon was a national figure and ambassador for the Cardinals on a wide, national scale.

Mike Shannon in a 2012 file photo.
Mike Shannon in a 2012 file photo.

A graduate of Christian Brothers College High School, Shannon would play quarterback at the University of Missouri before ultimately deciding to pursue a career in professional baseball. His playing career was derailed by a kidney ailment, but his natural connection to the team and pure representation of all things baseball in St. Louis made him an ideal candidate for the radio broadcast despite lacking any professional training in the field.

With that training, he might have been just another talking head. Instead, he became the Moon Man, eternally wishing that folks back in St. Louis could see the bright, shining light in the sky which he saw in New York. He provided that same light, multiplied many times over, to generations of Cardinals fans who came to know him as their primary gateway to the team they loved.

Shannon told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2021 that he spent 15 days in the hospital in late 2020 after contracting COVID-19, and said then that he came near death during his bout with the virus. He would work a limited schedule that season before retiring, and has made sparse public appearances due to his health challenges in the last two years.

His last time seen at Busch Stadium was during the team’s most recent home game on April 19. He was shown on the jumbotron during a break between innings and was able to give a wave to an excited crowd which had an opportunity to express their appreciation to him at full volume.

Ultimately, unfortunately, it would be the last time they would be able to do so.