In between weather forecasts on Fox 2 St. Louis this morning, when the heavy snow was just starting to fall, St. Louis Cardinals’ KMOX play-by-play voice Mike Shannon gave an interview and was asked a particularly juicy question by a fan.
The question centered around which current Cardinal on the roster would make a great radio announcer like Shannon, and the longtime voice of the Cardinals didn’t hesitate with his answer. “The guy won ten games last year,” Shannon said. He’s talking about fellow longtime Cardinal, Adam Wainwright.
Shannon is calling it quits after the 2021 season, which will be his 50th in the booth. After retiring from baseball, “The Moon Man” hopped into the radio booth, and formed a legendary partnership with the late Jack Buck. Over the years, since Buck’s untimely passing, Shannon’s partner in the booth has changed names a few times-but John Rooney settled in quite a few years ago. They make a great team. Not as brilliant and easy on the ears as what he created with Buck, but a good soundtrack for Cardinal Nation every summer.
Wainwright is the only real choice on this roster. He’s already put in some good radio time with Shannon/Rooney, joining Dan McLaughlin on Fox Sports Midwest during games, and always represents St. Louis well on those Saturday Fox national broadcasts. Wainwright joined the Atlanta Braves’ playoff broadcasts during the 2020 postseason. Rather it’s on on-camera or on the radio, Wainwright will be doing some commentary in his post-playing days. It’s happening.
It would be a seamless transition here, extending the Wainwright relationship with the city and team. A thing that has been going strong since Dec. 2003, when the team acquired him from those same Braves in a deal that would be instrumental in setting up the next decade of St. Louis baseball. Once he’s thrown his final pitch-and after a few years off from the travel-Waino could start building another decade with baseball, but take a seat upstairs instead.
For the Cardinals, it’s a family affair on the field and in the booth. Jim Edmonds, Brad Thompson, Al Hrabosky, Rick Ankiel, and others have taken strolls with McLaughlin in the television booth. Ricky Horton does games with Rooney on KMOX St. Louis, and also with “Danny Mac” on Fox Sports Midwest. Players taking off the jersey and putting on a suit in the elevator isn’t a new thing. Teams do it all over the game. But I’d wager the Cardinals do it more consistently than most, and with pretty good results.
Wainwright would be a natural in the booth, telling rich stories and cracking just enough jokes to bring in the more casual baseball fans who want more storytelling than detailed game description. That’s the great thing about Shannon. While the internet has had too much fun with his odd way of player name-pronunciation, nicknamed “Shannonisms,” he brings an authentic breath of fresh air to the broadcast every night.
Hearing him go off on a three-inning story, with loads of cackles and laughs throughout, followed by a detailed account of the current inning and its inhabitants, was a St. Louis experience. Windows down in the spring, Shannon’s voice stretching all the way down Kingshighway Boulevard and Manchester Avenue. The air conditioning hit more comfortably if Shannon was talking to you on a scorching August afternoon. When that’s gone, we will wish it was still there. That’s greatness, as a player and radio announcer.
Could Wainwright touch that cloud of legend? Probably not, but it would be fun seeing (or hearing?) him try.
Shannon also talked about the new third base/first base combination. He said the “corners are sealed” with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt guarding the corners. Shannon noted the team hasn’t had this kind of setup since “Shannon and someone else … Cepeda?” He followed that statement with the same classic, loud and lovely cackle that he has given Cardinals fans so many times on the air.
A swan song doesn’t often look or sound this good. While Adam Wainwright could make a great radio voice sometime, 2021 belongs to “The Moon Man.”
Image Credit: Chris Lee/St Louis Post Dispatch