July 15, 1939—April 29, 2023
He’s the old big-leaguer with the most enjoyable stories, the kind that you could listen to all day. And Mike Shannon doesn’t mind at all. Baseball stories? They’re the best.
Ask him about the 1967 season when he graciously moved from right field to third base to make room for Roger Maris, and he jokes, “There was a bit of selfishness in that, too. … I knew if I could play third base, I’d have job security for a long time.”
Of course, he offers those words with that trademark laugh. Just as he chuckles when asked about other parts of his career, saying, “There’s a lot of things I can’t tell you.”
Shannon certainly has been “holding court” for the past 64 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, and this summer not only marks his 50th in the radio booth but also his final chapter there.
What an ambassador he’s been. That is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly honored Shannon with the Pinnacle Award for his lifetime of service to the game in May 2021.
Overall, Shannon has been a part of 10 Cardinals World Series teams – three as a player and seven in his radio career.
It all started in 1958 when the Cardinals signed him as a minor league free agent after the St. Louis native spent a season quarterbacking the University of Missouri Tigers.
He later played nine seasons in the big leagues, all for St. Louis, from 1962 to 1970. His career toured through three World Series (1964, 1967, 1968) as a player and, in the radio booth, he covered the club’s 1982, 1985, 1987, 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013 World Series teams.
“I will always be a Cardinal. I think I personify the Cardinals fan-ship. The fans are tremendous. I’d like to think I helped educate them about the game and the organization,” said Shannon, a 1999 inductee of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame who, as a 2013 Missouri Sports Legend, has a bronze bust on our Legends Walkway. “Of course, I’d like to have 50 more (years) to be quite honest. But I’m 81 years old for crimeny sakes.”
After six decades in the organization, after all the names and faces who have passed through, he still remembers Day One.
“They sent me down to Albany, Georgia, and it was Class D ball,” Shannon recalled. “Their general manager picked me up at the airport and took me to the clubhouse, where they had my jersey hanging. And we had a doubleheader that day. So they put me in center field and had me batting fourth. Of course, I got two hits in both games.”
His manager back then? It was a guy named Mo Mozzali, who later scouted for the Cardinals and provided a helpful scouting report on the Yankees ahead of the 1964 World Series.
In that series, Shannon’s game-tying, two-run home run off Whitey Ford propelled St. Louis to a 9-5 Game 1 victory and, ultimately, the Series victory – the Cardinals’ first World Series title since 1946.
That he trotted around the bases in his hometown, for his boyhood team, only sweetened the experience.
Then again, you could call it his destiny. Shannon had signed to play quarterback for Mizzou after high school in order to avoid what at the time was a $10,000-or-less baseball signing bonus. And the advice came from none other than Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial.
“In high school, I had gotten to be friends with Musial’s son. He was more like a father figure to me,” Shannon said. “For baseball, I had a lot of teams pursuing me. But I wanted to be a Cardinal.”
He credits Musial, along with Bob Skinner, for mentoring in those early years.
Even better, he remained a Cardinal after his big-league career ended. After a year in promotions, he landed in the radio booth.
“They wanted (Don) Drysdale,” Shannon said, referring to the former Dodgers pitcher. “But they couldn’t because he had a national contract. Fifty years … you never know what’s going to happen.”
Now, as the curtain closes on his radio job, Shannon hopes the show will go on, that the game grows and that the kids who play the game – and the future big-leaguers of the next generation – remember some important points.
Points that made his own career so special.
“Just be yourself. Go outside and play, and you’ll learn a lot from baseball,” Shannon said. “And remember – somebody came before you.”
From Shannon’s induction into the MSHOF as a Legend in 2013:
Shannon began his big-league career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962. In 1964, he became the team’s regular right fielder, shifting to third base (in order to make room for the newly acquired Roger Maris) in 1967. Shannon played in three World Series for the Cardinals. He hit a game-tying two-run homer off Whitey Ford in the Game 1 of the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees, which St. Louis won 9-5. In Game 3 of the 1967 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Shannon hit a key home run off Gary Bell. In Game 7 of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Shannon’s solo home run off Mickey Lolich was the Cardinals’ only run off Lolich as the Tigers clinched. Shannon also hit the last home run in the original Busch Stadium (Sportsman’s Park) in 1966 and the first one for the Cardinals in the second Busch Stadium (Busch Memorial Stadium). In 1970, he contracted nephritis, a kidney disease, which ended his playing career.
After his playing career, Shannon found he could excitement to the sports scene from the broadcast booth.
In 1972, he began his career as a member of the Cardinals broadcasting team, quickly earning the reputation as one of baseball’s best analysts. In 1985, Shannon was awarded an Emmy for his work on the Cardinals telecasts.
In addition to his broadcasting, Shannon in on the speaking circuit, is the sole proprietor of one of St. Louis’ finest restaurants and finds time to assist many charities.”