For the first time in 18 years, the Cardinals are shopping for a lead announcer.
Telecaster Bally Sports Midwest and the team are seeking a successor to Dan McLaughlin, who departed last week after 24 seasons in the cabin and 25 seasons overall on the television broadcast staff. It was what he called a “mutual decision” after he was arrested for the third time for drunk driving in just over 12 years. The most recent, on a felony charge of being a “continued” offender, took place on December 4 in Crieff Coeur.
When his replacement is signed, it will be the first major appointment in one of the team’s broadcasting booths since John Rooney was brought in to replace Wayne Hagen on broadcasting for the 2006 season. Of course, Mike Shannon retired after the 2021 campaign, after 50 years, but he’s cut back his schedule significantly. During the previous decade or so, Rooney was already calling the bulk of games. Ronnie was promoted to number one this year and Ricky Horton joined the radio crew full time after moving between that booth and the TV side. No one from abroad has been added.
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Now the hunt has begun for what Joe Buck—who worked the Cardinals’ TV and radio booths two decades ago—calls the “number one job” in the country for a TV announcer calling a certain team. But Buck won’t go back to his family roots with the Cards—his father, legendary broadcaster Jack Buck, has called Redbirds games for 47 years.
He said that while he had already been approached about doing some Cards BSM, he had “politely declined” the offer.
“This is not the right time in my life,” Buck said this week. “I don’t think it’s fair to do some matches, you have to stick to that.”
Buck got his big-league start with his hometown Cardinals and soon after was calling Fox games and quickly made it big nationally, eventually abandoning local broadcasts in favor of his grueling schedule in which he became the network’s leading MLB and NFL broadcaster. He has called numerous Super Bowls and World Series.
Buck has cut back considerably this year, and has moved to ESPN to do “Monday Night Football” and a handful of other projects. He only has four NFL games left this season, counting the playoffs.
After having a hectic schedule for more than three decades, he’s now able to spend more family time with his wife, fellow ESPN sportscaster Michelle Besner Buck, and his kids — including two still home, 4-year-old twin boys . Buck, 53, has a more relaxed pace.
“I made a decision that I was ready to scale back,” he said of his move last spring from Fox Sports. “you passed.”
Another notable sportscaster with deep ties to St. Louis, Bob Costas, is in the announcer section of the Baseball Hall of Fame for distinction on a national level. But he’s never aired a one-on-one team regularly, having previously said he’d like to do it for a year. But he will not pursue the Cardinals’ job.
“If there was a home team I would play games for, it’s the Cardinals,” Costas, 70, said this week. “But that time has passed. It won’t.”
He is arguably the best sportscaster of all time, and possibly the best broadcaster in the history of the business. He started life in St. Louis in 1974, lived in the area until 2011 and still enjoys throwing back from the time he divided between homes in New York and California.
Kostas is satisfied with all of his many major accomplishments even though they do not include team broadcasting.
“Most of the things I would like to do have been done,” he said. “You have checked these boxes.”
He said his schedule for next year, which again includes calling a limited number of games nationally on TBS’ MLB Network, suits him well. And he has some ideas about who would be the ideal candidate announcing the Cardinals.
“Everyone they hire should be a good baseball announcer, and he could give them 20 or 30 years,” Costas said.
The club has a long history of play-by-play announcers who have stayed for several decades – in reverse order: McLaughlin, Shannon, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and France Laux.
Joe Buck said the successful applicant will have an initial position.
“To live in this city do the Cardinals—who usually have the best (local) TV shows in the country—people can’t get enough of,” Buck said. “There’s full attention from the fan base, the team is always competitive. That’s all you want as a broadcaster.”
A nationwide search has begun.
“We’re in the early stages. This role is important to Cardinals fans, so we’ll be open and inclusive with the goal of getting a play-by-play announcer in place prior to spring training,” said Jack Donovan, Bally Sports Midwest general manager and senior vice president. We’re working closely with the Cardinals to identify great candidates. and find the most suitable.
It is believed that a long-term replacement for McLaughlin is being sought, not to fill in next season to buy time to find a ‘permanent’ successor. But that doesn’t seem to stop someone from being brought in for a year or two if an ‘ideal’ candidate isn’t found in time – or if the person BSM and cards want isn’t immediately available due to being under contract elsewhere.
Let’s take a look at some of the names, both familiar and unknown, who could be under consideration or at least interested in the job – or who have said they wouldn’t be in the running. These lists are arranged alphabetically.
Mike Claiborne: He’s been a stalwart of St. Louis sports broadcasting for four decades, including his current long run on the Cardinals Radio Network where he fills in on play-by-play on occasion and is an accomplished host of ancillary shows. But Claiborne’s television work is limited.
Ricky Horton: He’s done a slew of radio and TV card games, and he filled in in 2010 when McLaughlin was first arrested. He said emphatically “no” when asked if he’d be interested in the TV job right now.
He said, “If they come to me and want me to occupy myself, I will do it,” but nothing further. “I’m not 45 anymore. I love what I do.”
John Rooney: He’s had a scintillating resume of baseball broadcasting, as well as with other sports, and has been a mainstay in the Cards radio booth since 2006 and then took over the leadership role after Shannon’s retirement. But he said he is not pursuing the TV job.
He said, “I love the radio.” “Ricky and I have developed a good thing.”
Former Card Announcers
Bob Carpenter: The St. Louis native had a strong legacy in broadcasting baseball, including card games on radio and television for nearly a decade in multiple stints that ended in 2001 when he lost his most prominent role to McLaughlin. Carpenter has been the Washington Nationals’ television announcer since 2006, and has also had stints calling games with the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and Minnesota Twins, as well as broadcasting numerous sports for ESPN. He is under contract with the national team for the next season.
Wayne Hagen: Hired to succeed Jack Buck after his death, he joined the Cards radio booth in 2003. But when the team moved those broadcasts from KMOX (1120 AM) to KTRS (550 AM) beginning in the 2006 season, Hagen was fired in favor of Rooney—a personal favorite of the Chiefs. KTRS then Tim Dorsey. Hagen ended up having a short stint calling Cardinals games on television before his stint with the New York Mets which ended in 2011.
Bob Ramsey: His play-by-play resume is impressive, as he was in his 37th season as the broadcast voice of the St. Louis University men’s basketball team. He’s a baseball aficionado who did two years of play-by-play television for Card Road games televised by what is now BSM – before the station bumped him up in 1999 to make room for McLaughlin when he was just starting out.
Tom Ackerman: Longtime KMOX sports director and morning news/talk show host branches out to do the occasional play-by-play, especially college basketball, and has a low-key, low-key approach.
Greg Amsinger: The cute MLB Network host is a graduate of the University of St. Charles High and Lindenwood University and makes no secret of his affinity for the Cardinals on air. But his career has been nurtured working in the studio, not play-by-play, as he has been with MLB Network since its inception in early 2009.
Aaron Goldsmith: The former prestigious St. Louis (high school in Principia, in St. Louis County, college in Principia, in Elsah, Illinois) broadcast the Gateway Grizzlies independent baseball team in Sauget 15 years ago while working his way up to the majors. He has spent the past 10 seasons as announcer for the Seattle Mariners who also call regional games for Fox and has run some Cardinals contests in that capacity. He’s still relatively young, 39, and highly regarded by some in the field. Lots of positives here.
Jim Challis: He’s called games in the Cards organization before, when the Louisville Redbirds were the best farm team in St. Louis, and helped Joe Buck break into professional broadcasting when they shared that booth. Kelch, 64, has a long and varied sports broadcasting career that includes playing at the big league level — broadcasting Cincinnati Reds games on radio and television for eight years ending in 2017.
Nate Lucas: St. Louis made several play-by-play seasons for the minor-league Cardinals team in Springfield, Missouri, and seemed on track for a great rise until he was derailed in 2020 when he made a blunt remark on a talk show about Kamala Harris, who was running her own successful campaign. To become Vice President of the United States. He did not return to the booth but revived his career on KFNS (590 AM), where he co-hosted a talk show with Ramsay. Lucas, 32, said he learned a lot from the slip-up and says he now considers it a non-issue, and has rebounded well in KFNS.
Joe Bot: The voice of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville basketball and baseball has also had a long stint broadcasting the Gateway Grizzlies. And he has card ties, hosting some pregame/postgame shows on the team’s radio network.
Matt Shoemaker: Another St. Louis native (St. Louis High School, class of 2010) who called sports at Washington University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville lives in Indianapolis and currently calls events for Fox, ESPN and the Big Ten. Shumaker, 31 years old He also had a season broadcast of Louisville minor league baseball.