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Mike Shannon, legendary voice of the Cardinals, dies at 83

Mike Shannon was the voice of the Cardinals from 1971 to 2021. He was 83.

ST. LOUIS — Mike Shannon, the St. Louis native who became the voice of his hometown team for 50 years, has died. He was 83.

The team confirmed the news Sunday afternoon.

The above video is from August 2021.

Shannon was born and raised in St. Louis, graduating from CBC High School in 1957 and attended the University of Missouri for a year before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958. He made his Major League debut in 1962 and played his entire career with the Cardinals.

After a nine-year career with two World Series championships, Shannon retired in 1970, and began his broadcasting career on KMOX in 1971.

In his 50-year broadcasting career, he was beloved for his quirky turns of phrase that became known as Shannonisms. He could be heard on many summer and fall nights willing a long fly ball to "get up baby, get up."

He was on the mic for World Series championships, pennant chases and the legendary home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the summer of 1998, when McGwire broke Roger Maris' decades-old, single-season home run record. 

In August of 2021, Shannon said a bout with COVID-19 put him in a coma for "a long time, too long" and that he was still feeling the impact of his near-death experience almost a year later as a COVID long-hauler. He would retire as the voice of the Cardinals at the end of the 2021 season after a 50 year career.

As for his legacy, Shannon said in 2021 that it was pretty simple.

"The biggest compliment I get is from the visually impaired. When they come to the ballpark and bring a radio and say, 'The picture is painted for me.' That's the greatest compliment because they can't see what's going on," Shannon said.

Shannon, who was preceded in death by his first wife, Judy, is survived by their sons Michael Jr., Tim and Dan, and daughters Patricia, Peg and Erin; his wife Lori, 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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

“The St. Louis Cardinals were saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Cardinals Hall of Famer and beloved St. Louisan Mike Shannon,” Cardinals’ Owner & Chief Executive Officer Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a press release. “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.”

The family has made private funeral arrangements. The family also worked with the St. Louis Press Club to set up a fund to start a sports journalism scholarship in Shannon's honor. For more information about the scholarship, click here.

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