Mike Shannon, who played in three World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and then became a favorite of the team’s fans as one of its radio broadcasters for 50 seasons, died on Saturday. He was 83.
The Cardinals announced the death but did not give a cause or say where he died. Shannon had been hospitalized in 2020 with Covid-19 and later suffered from symptoms of long Covid.
Shannon was one of the few announcers in baseball history to spend 50 years or more with one team. His longevity was among the things that endeared him to listeners, along with his exuberance and his passion for seeing the Cardinals win.
In 2003, when the Cardinal slugger Albert Pujols hit a home run after being brushed back by the Chicago Cubs’ Kerry Wood, Shannon was ebullient: “Swing and hello, Fourth of July! Take a ride on that knockdown pitch, big boy! Kerry Wood knocked him down and now Albert looks at him as he goes around first. He gives him the glare, saying, ‘Take a whiff of that, big boy!’”
Bob Costas, the former NBC sportscaster whose early professional work was in St. Louis, said that Shannon’s roots there were a key to his success. “He was one of those guys,” he said by phone, “like Herb Score in Cleveland, Joe Nuxhall in Cincinnati and Jerry Remy in Boston, where it works because he’s local, he’s one of our guys — and, in his case, grew up in St Louis and was a three-sport star in high school.”
Shannon was known for his signature home run call, “Get up, baby, get up!” and for odd and idiosyncratic lines: He referred to a pop-up as “a home run in a telephone booth” and to a Cardinal victory as a “monstramental win,” and he once declared that a young fan who had been hit by a foul ball “will leave the stadium with a souvenir today — not a ball but a nice-looking bruise.”
Joe Buck, who, like his father, Jack, was one of Shannon’s radio partners, said by phone: “His Shannonisms made for great listening, and some of it was so illogical. But you had to know he was one of the most common-sense people I’ve ever met. He had a keen eye for the game and would have been a great manager.”
Thomas Michael Shannon was born on July 15, 1939, in St. Louis to Thomas and Elizabeth (Richason) Shannon. His father was a police officer and later became a city prosecutor.
Mike was an outstanding athlete at Christian Brothers College High School, where he was a football all-American, and in 1957 he was named the Missouri prep player of the year in both basketball and football. He attended the University of Missouri for a year as a quarterback on a football scholarship. But he was also a baseball prospect, and in 1958 he signed with the Cardinals for what he said in his autobiography was almost $100,000, although it was reported at the time as $40,000.
After four years in the minor leagues, he played sparingly with the Cardinals in 1962 and 1963, often as the late-innings defensive replacement for the great hitter Stan Musial, who was then in the final year of his Hall of Fame career.
Shannon did not follow Musial into the Hall of Fame (although he played with several future Hall of Famers, including Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda and Steve Carlton). But he was a solid player whose two-run home run off the Yankees’ Whitey Ford in Game 1 of the 1964 World Series tied the score at 4-4. The Cardinals won the game, 9-5, and went on to take the series in seven games.
In 1967, Shannon moved from right field to third base after the Cardinals acquired Roger Maris from the Yankees. The two became close friends.
St. Louis won the World Series again that year, beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The next year, the Detroit Tigers defeated the Cardinals, also in seven games. Shannon hit a home run in each of those series.
Shannon played until 1970, when he developed membranous nephropathy, an autoimmune disorder of the kidneys, which ended his career. He had a career batting average of .255, with 68 home runs and 367 runs batted in, and was elected to the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame in 2014. Two of his teammates died recently: the shortstop Dick Groat last month and the catcher Tim McCarver, who also had a distinguished career as a broadcaster, in February.
Shannon joined the Cardinals’ promotions department in 1971 and became a team announcer the next season. In addition to calling Cardinal games, he was part of NBC’s backup crew for its “Game of the Week” in the 1980s. He retired after the 2021 season.
His survivors include his wife, Lori (Bergman) Shannon; his daughters, Patricia, Peg and Erin; his sons, Michael Jr., Tim and Dan; 18 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. His first wife, Judith Ann (Bufe) Shannon, died in 2007.
The ball that Shannon slugged in Game 1 of the 1964 World Series traveled more than 450 feet and broke the “u” in the Budweiser sign in left field at Busch Stadium, causing $5,000 in damage. At first, he thought he would have to pay for it.
In his autobiography, “Get Up, Baby!: My Seven Decades with the St. Louis Cardinals” (2022, with Rick Hummel), he recalled: “Gussie Busch, our owner, said in that gravelly voice of his, ‘That’s all right, buddy. You can break the whole sign down.’ And Gussie paid for it.”