Mike Shannon enjoyed life more than anyone I’ve known. He had so many friends, so many activities and so much fun, Mike bypassed the peace and quiet of a traditional night of sleep by taking a series of short naps during the day. I don’t know how Shannon did it, but he never ran out of energy.

“I’ve got too much to do,” Shannon once told me. “I’ve gotta keep moving, because I don’t want to miss anything.”

There was family, fishing, hunting, wagering on horses, collecting red wine. Shannon played the best golf courses in America. He hung out with all types of people including a group of backwoods Kentuckians that he’d go hunting with. Or maybe you’d see Shannon with the actors James Caan or Burt Reynolds.

In New York, Shannon’s pal was the large and gregarious “Big Julie,” who had so much juice locally he could drive his massive Lincoln town car onto the tarmac at LaGuardia to pick up Shannon and Jack Buck a few yards away from the Cardinals’ chartered airplane.

The fellas would make a trip to Aqueduct to bet the ponies before it was time to head to Shea Stadium. I had the awesome privilege to be part of the excursion one day, and it’s still a special memory. As the airplane descended for landing, Shannon pointed to me and said, “Come on, big boy – you’re going with us.” I’ll never forget those two hours at the track.

I had the pleasure of being at Fairmount Park with Shannon and his dear friend Jay Randolph Sr. Every now and then these get-togethers happened on Kentucky Derby Day – before a Cardinals’ night game at home. It was an incredible thing to witness. Shannon would make a series of calls to jockeys and trainers. He’d get a report on the buzz around the barns. He’d ask the jockeys and trainers how their horses looked. And then he’d do it all over again, learning if anything had changed. The amiable Randolph would study reports in the Racing Form, glance at tip sheets, and seek advice from sharpies who had an eye for picking a winner. There was barely room on the table for a beer because Mike and Jay had a pile of race-related papers covering most of the surface. Mobile phones were all over the place. There was a lot of “hey, big boy”  and “hee-hee-hee” flying through the airspace. It was blissful pandemonium.

Mike would walk into a restaurant in San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta or any place on the National League circuit. The host would greet him. Shannon knew everyone in the joint. He’d stop by the kitchen to thank the chef, or do some advance scouting to come up with a dish for his own restaurant.

Mike was a restaurateur and a raconteur. The only thing better than the ribeye at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood were the stories at Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood.

The Friday night live shows he did from Shannon’s during the baseball season were a classic. Free-wheeling, funny, and a fantastically good time. You’d never know who would show up as a guest. Might be a player, coach or manager. Might be Bob Knight, an umpire, a politician, a hockey player, a singer, a fellow broadcaster, a jockey, a rival player, a writer, Billy Bob Thornton, a football player, the baseball commissioner, a NASCAR driver, or a beloved former teammate. Mike’s life was indeed a carnival.

I once asked Mike about his idea of a perfect day during the baseball season when the Cardinals were at home.

“Fishing or golf in the morning, racetrack in the afternoon, the ballpark at night,” he said. “And then go over to (my) restaurant to have something to eat, have a drink, relax with friends, have some laughs. And greet the Cardinal fans who came by. How can you do better than that?”

Shannon had an extraordinary life. He was perhaps the greatest high school athlete in Missouri history. He had a rocket arm and could have been a star quarterback at Mizzou, or in the NFL. But the Cardinals’ six-figure signing-bonus offer was too rich to turn down, so Shannon turned to baseball.

Oh how lucky that was for Cardinal fans in our city, our state, or just about every other state in America. Cardinals fans were everywhere. And through the generations Shannon delighted a countless number of people as a two-time World Series champion and three-time NL pennant winner who homered in each of the three World Series he competed in. He was a hometown hero before David Freese and Pat Maroon came along.

Shannon hit the last home run at Sportsman’s Park, and the first home run at the old Busch Stadium. Shannon’s best friend was Roger Maris, and in 1998 he called the Mark McGwire home run that broke the Maris record for most homers in a season. In the booth, he worked next to Jack Buck, and worked next to Joe Buck. He played on the same high school football team as Stan Musial’s son, Dick Musial – and then had Stan the Man for a teammate in 1962 and ‘63.

Shannon survived a life-threatening kidney illness and retired at age 30 following the 1970 season. After a year spent working in sales and promotions for the Cardinals, Mike was invited to work with Jack Buck in the KMOX booth for the 1972 season. It changed his life. It changed the lives of all of those who revered Cardinals baseball.

Twelve years as a player, 50 years as a broadcaster, 62 years with one organization which happened to be his hometown team. Can we ever count the number of fans he reached? Or estimate how many fans considered him family, because of the decades he connected with generations of them through the radio as a steady presence in their lives?

Shannon won two World Series as a Cardinal player, and then called three World Series triumphs as a Cardinal broadcaster. I agree with Joe Buck, who believes Shannon was the best ambassador in franchise history.

When I moved to St. Louis in the spring of 1985, I didn’t “get” Shannon at first. Having grown up in Baltimore, I’d never heard him call a game. Who the heck was this guy with the big, deep growly voice who lacked the extra-polished nuance, smooth style and steady cadence we’ve heard from most major-league baseball broadcasters?

Answer: Mike Shannon was different than the rest. He had a unique style that didn’t fit anyone’s prototype. That’s what made him so special. You’d never know what thoughts would emerge from his brain, enter his voice box, and be released directly to the KMOX microphone. I vaguely recall him talking about how great it would be to serve as the “King of Hawaii.”

(Side note: I got a call from Shannon on a Thursday night. He wanted me to know that Bruce Springsteen would be on Live at Shannon’s the next night, after the game. “You’re a Springsteen fan, right?” Shannon said. “Come on over, big boy.” Wow. I was 100% fired up. This would be amazing …  and then I found out that Mike was actually referring to another musician-singer, Bruce Hornsby, who was in town to visit his friend Tony La Russa for the weekend.  I’m laughing as I type this. God bless you, Moon Man.)

Oct 3, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon is honor in his final game of his career during the second inning of a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Shannon is retiring after 50 years of broadcasting for the Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports


After a couple of months in my new home, I came to understand Shannon and why Cardinals fans adored him so. He was authentic. Natural. Unaffected by pretense or industry norms. He never sounded like a broadcast-school graduate. He never sought out a voice coach. He didn’t give a hoot about winning broadcasting awards, or impressing critics, or refining his style in a play for a national gig. He was happiest at home. It’s where he wanted to be. Leaving St. Louis was out of the question.

As the brilliant baseball writer Joe Posnanski noted,  “There probably has never been anyone more St. Louis than Mike Shannon.”

Shannon knew baseball (obviously) and had a keen instinct for anticipating the moments to come. Why? Because he had a feel for the way the infield was set, the outfield was shaded, or how a pitcher was working on a hitter. And if you want hear tone-setting, drama-raising, suspense-building mastery of play by play, listen to  Shannon’s full call of Albert Pujols’ famous home run off Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS in Houston. Chills.

If you wanted a technically proficient broadcaster, this wasn’t your man. If you wanted the Moon Man, then a good time was guaranteed, and he understood the emotional power of a shared experience. Which meant that he understood you, and what you wanted.

Mike Shannon cared about Cardinal fans, because he was their guy and they were his people. He told jokes on the air, happily made fun of himself, and filled the booth with laughter. He’d get tangled in malapropos, or go on detours in his play-by-play. The listeners loved all of it.

Shannon’s broadcasting imperfections made him perfect for this town. His candor was as refreshing as that “cold frosty one” he spoke of so often. Nothing about him was contrived. Everything about him was endearing.

“He’ll talk for 15 minutes,” his dear friend, the great Bob Gibson once said,  “and when he’s through, you’ll go away scratching your head and wondering what he said.”

If you listened to Shannon calling Cardinals games, you probably thought of him as a guy you’d enjoy hanging out with in the backyard or on the deck, grilling steaks, drinking cold beer and talking ball. He’s as St. Louis as Budweiser, toasted ravioli, and gooey butter cake, and of course, Cardinals baseball.

The secret to his success? Mike didn’t have one. Shannon was Shannon, one of a kind, and that was wonderful. He may have had an elevated position in the booth, but he never looked down on anyone. Shannon was a man of St. Louis, and for St. Louis, and pure St. Louis. A match made in baseball heaven.

Shannon, who died Sunday at age 83, was survived by his wife Lori, six children, 18 grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and millions and millions of Cardinals fans.

Even in death, Shannon continues to make people happy. The last few days have given fans and friends a chance to reminisce, share memories, tell stories of their Shannon encounters, and relive the years – the decades – of the endless summer sounds he’d given them. There’s a lot of “remember the time Shannon said,” things going around.

Me? I’ll think of Shannon every time I bet on a horse, or hear a loud laugh, drink a cold one, take a bite of steak, or watch the men in the red jackets gathered at home plate on opening day.

Shannon the Moon Man will always be with us. You will think of him every time you see a moon over the ballpark, shining down.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and Miklasz. It’s available on your preferred podcast platform. Or follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.