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'I had a good time. I made sure of that': Mike Shannon talks about wrapping up 50-year career as voice of the Cardinals

After 50 years as the voice of Cardinals baseball, Mike Shannon only has a few games left. And he just wants to be remembered as someone who enjoyed his job

ST. LOUIS — After just 11 more games, Mike Shannon's incredible 50-year run as the voice of the Cardinals will come to an end. But don't worry, he's got his retirement plans in order.

"I'm gonna play a lot of golf and I'm gonna do a lot of fishing," Shannon told 5 On Your Side's Frank Cusumano during an interview in the KMOX broadcast booth.

After nine years as a player for the Cardinals and 50 years in the broadcast booth, Shannon has seen it all. But his reason for why he keeps coming back is probably similar to most baseball fans around the world.

"Because you don't know what's gonna happen. I've seen four home runs in a game, I've seen a no-hitter, I've seen a perfect game... You just never know what's gonna happen when you come out here," Shannon said.

Credit: AP
St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon waves from the booth during a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, in St. Louis. Shannon is retiring at the end of this season after 50 years calling Cardinals baseball. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Speaking of seeing everything, Shannon was a part of two Cardinals World Series teams himself, and has seen two more as a broadcaster. When asked if his 1967 World Series club could claim title of the best Cardinals team ever, here's what he had to say.

"They'd be pretty good. They were a good team, no doubt about that," Shannon said. "I've had players ask me, 'What's the difference between your team and my team?' And I'd say, 'Gibson. Period.' But it's so much harder to win nowadays. When we played you'd just have to get to the World Series and then win four games. Gibson would win three of those and we'd have to figure out how to win one other."

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Oct. 12, 1967, file photo, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson receives a congratulatory hug from catcher Tim McCarver after he pitched a three-hitter in the team's 7-2 victory in Game 7 over the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass. At left is third baseman Mike Shannon. Gibson, the dominating pitcher who won a record seven consecutive World Series starts and set a modern standard for excellence when he finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, died Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. He was 84. (AP Photo, File)

In his playing days, Shannon said Roger Maris was the teammate he used to have the most fun with. And if you know anything about Mike Shannon, you know he's pretty darn good at having fun.

"We just clicked," Shannon said of Maris. "I kind of ran interference for him... They all wanted to see him instead of me. So it was easy for me. I'd just say, 'He's busy.'"

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Roger Maris visited the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse and met his replacement Vada Pinson, center, and Mike Shannon in St. Petersburg, Florida, March 10, 1969. Maris retired is in business in Gainesville, Florida. Pinson was obtained from the Cincinnati Reds. (AP Photo)

And as he transitioned to the broadcast booth, Shannon and former 5 On Your Side sportscaster Jay Randolph had some adventures of their own, and some truly legendary days in St. Louis.

"We'd first go to the ballpark and then afterwards we'd go out for dinner and have a drink or two. And then we'd get up the next day and try to repeat it. We'd do the golf course in the morning, the race track in the afternoon and then the ballpark at night. It was not a bad gig," Shannon said.

Shannon, 82, said he never got tired of running around completing his old daily itinerary, but times have changed. Especially since his battle with COVID-19.

Shannon said COVID-19 put him in a coma for "a long time, too long" and that he's still feeling the impact of his near-death experience as a COVID long-hauler.

Watch: Mike Claiborne tells classic Mike Shannon stories

After 11 more games, Shannon will hang up his KMOX headset for the final time, and retire to a life even more full of golfing and fishing. He's appreciative of all the love he's received during his final season, but knows 50 years is the perfect time to stop.

"People ask me if I'm really gonna retire, and I say, 'Hell yeah. 50 years is long enough, man. If you can't screw it up in 50 years you can't screw it up.'," Shannon said.

As for his legacy, it's pretty simple for Shannon.

"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.

And above all else, he wants fans to know one thing; That he had a good time.

"That he enjoyed himself. I'm pretty sure they (the fans) say that... I had a good time. I made sure of that," Shannon laughed.

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