Hello again! In Part 1 of this 3-part series, we began our exploration into the top 15 broadcast calls in Cardinals history. We have already discussed some absolute classics as well as some underrated moments from this century. Part 2, similarly, will contain a combination of some moments which were unforgettable and others which get lost in Cardinals lore.
You can read the entirety of Part 1 here, including analysis and a discussion of why these moments make such an impact, but here is a quick recap of the first five entries:
15. Rick Ankiel Return Home Run (Dan McLaughlin)
14. Stan Musial’s 3000th Hit (Harry Caray)
13. 1985 NLCS Game Six- Jack Clark Home Run (Vin Scully)
12. Jhonny Peralta 2015 Home Run at Wrigley (Dan McLaughlin)
11. Mark McGwire’s 70th Home Run of 1998 (Joe Buck)
As discussed in the prelude to Part 1, a great broadcast call can become synonymous with the sports moment itself in our memories. The Cardinals’ history is full of iconic moments and some great broadcasters, so picking just 15 calls was a difficult endeavor. In this edition, we discuss entries 10 through 6, which may just feature some upsets and some surprises! Enough chit-chat, let’s start with #10:
10. Waino Ks Beltran to Win 2006 NLCS
- Date: October 19, 2006
- Location: New York
- Broadcaster: Mike Shannon
- Transcript: “Adam Wainwright gets a new baseball, rubs it up, stands on, looks in with the bases loaded, two out, Cardinals leading 3-1 here in the bottom of the 9th inning. One of the most dangerous hitters in the business at the plate, Carlos Beltran. He is ready, so is Wainwright. The 0-2 delivery…Curve, struck him out looking! The Cardinals are going to Michigan to take on the Tigers! They mob, they mob Adam Wainwright on the mound! They are National League Champions and headed for Detroit, as they mob the pitcher!“
- The situation: The Cardinals/Mets 2006 NLCS is a classic, especially the final games in New York. Game 7 had multiple twists and turns, including an all-timer of a web gem from Endy Chavez and a shocking home run in the top of the 9th by (at that point) light-hitting catcher Yadier Molina off of Mets reliever Aaron Heilman to give the Cardinals the lead. This set up a tense bottom of the 9th, and a chance for (at that point) Cardinals closer Adam Wainwright to send the Cardinals to the World Series against Detroit. This inning would be fraught with tension regardless, but to make the atmosphere truly pea soup-esque, the Mets loaded the bases. With two outs, in stepped Carlos Beltran, who had absolutely been crushing everything in sight for the Mets during their postseason run. As you can tell by the expressions of the incredibly New York-looking fans in the footage, this was as nerve-wracking as it gets. Amazingly, not only did young Waino strike out Beltran, he struck him out looking on three pitches. While the debate may rage on about whether Wainwright actually hung the curveball and got away with it, the Cardinals nonetheless shocked the Mets and advanced to eventually defeat the Tigers for their first World Series victory since 1982. Bob Nightengale, if you’re somehow reading this, just know that i’m chuckling at you. The image of Molina celebrating the strike call as Beltran looks on is now iconic, as you can see…wait, what the hell is that in the background??
- What makes it so great: The first appearance of Mike Shannon on the list! Look, Shannon may be past his prime now, he may have never had great analytical powers, and his “Shannonisms” may drive some people up the wall, but Mike Shannon’s deep, booming voice, his down-to-earth charm, and his famous love of cold frosty ones have anchored the Cardinals radio team for decades. Shannon in his prime had the classic radio broadcaster skill of being able to set and describe a scene in detail without sounding as though he’s rambling on or talking just to talk. For many people, the sound of Shannon’s voice on the radio is the signal that baseball is back. Personally, growing up I spent many good summer suppers with my family on the porch listening to The Moon Man call the action. This memorable call proves that Shannon is also skilled at calling the big moment. In the classic radio style, he walks through all the details that set the stage for the tenseness of the moment. As soon as Waino struck out Beltran, there was a jolt in his voice as he fell into the excitement of the moment. If it was a home game, it would have been better to pause and yield to the roar of the crowd, but with the Mets faithful just having had their hearts ripped out, talking through it was the right idea, and it closed with a preview of what was to come next. Although this call may not have included a “get up baseball, get up, get up” or an “oh yeah!” it is nonetheless among Shannon’s greatest.
9. Mark Whiten’s 4th HR in One Game
- Date: September 7, 1993
- Location: Cincinnati
- Broadcaster: Joe Buck
- Transcript: “Runner at first, one out, 2-0 to Whiten…Into center field! Did he?…YES! His fourth home run of the game, he has 12 RBIs! Duh-nuh-nuh duh-nuh-nuh! 15 to 2!“
- The Situation: To say Mark Whiten had an unusual career is an understatement. Whiten unquestionably had elite talent as a power-hitter and rocket-armed outfielder, as evidenced by some of the highlight-reel plays and crazy individual feats he accomplished in his career. However, inconsistency and mental lapses curtailed his potential, and as a result, he played for nine teams over a ten-year career. On this night in late 1993, however, Whiten was as feelin’-it as any hitter I’ve ever seen. If you watch the whole video, which you really should, not only was he hitting no-doubt home runs each at-bat, but he was bat-tossing and strutting down the first base line every time, and this was in a not-especially-consequential game where the Cardinals were blowing out a not-especially-good Cincinnati Reds team in a mostly empty stadium. By the third home run, even Reds fans, presumably not used to feelings of joy and wonder, were cheering and giving an ovation. On that night, Whiten would hit 4 (!) home runs and drive in 12 (!) runs, both of which tied the MLB single-game record. He remains one of the few players to have hit 4 homers in one game, a club must recently joined by Scooter f&()@!#$ Gennett against the Cardinals in 2017. Although it gets lost in the shuffle to other moments with much higher stakes, Whiten’s night is still arguably the greatest single-game performance by a Cardinals hitter of all time.
- What made it so great: This game occurred a couple weeks before my first birthday, so I obviously don’t remember it at the time, but it has become one of my favorite go-to videos when I get on a roll of re-watching Cardinals moments on Youtube. First of all, I’m not totally sure what the Cardinals broadcast situation was in 1993, but something unusual was that Joe Buck called Whiten’s first, third, and fourth home runs, but his father called the second, with Al Hraboksy doing commentary for all four. This entry obviously focuses on the fourth. While I dive into analytical explanations of skilled, situational calls that depend on the location and the gravity of the moment, sometimes there is no replacement for just genuinely going bananas at pure spectacle. Here, in what was otherwise not that interesting of a game, the legitimate hysterical thrill from the team of Buck and Hrabosky as Whiten wowed them is great fun. It’s how everyone watching must have felt as well. At the end, though, when Buck regains his composure a bit, the mimicking of the SportsCenter theme was a really nice touch. In a moment of pure fun where even the broadcasters were losing it, adding a lighthearted crack for emphasis made the call even better. Whatever you think of Joe Buck now, he had some incredibly fun moments calling Cardinals games in the 90s.
8. Cardinals Close Out 2011 World Series
- Date: October 28, 2011
- Location: St. Louis
- Broadcaster: Joe Buck
- Transcript: “In the air to left, well hit. Back is Craig…What a team. What a ride. The Cardinals are World Champs in 2011.“
- The situation: If you don’t remember the crazy, heart-pounding, triumphant ride of the 2011 Cardinals September & October run, you were either incapacitated somehow or you’re too young to be on the internet. (Thanks for reading anyway! Stay in school.) In a season that seemed to have gotten away from the Cardinals, they went on a torrid run in September and got some lucky breaks along the way to sneak in as the NL wild card team. They toppled the World Series favorite Phillies, then took out the Brewers squad that had won the Central division, then finally beat a very good Rangers team to take home the World Series title. Each of these series went to a sudden-death game and each one had some unforgettable moments of their own. One could argue this was the most thrilling postseason run by any major league team ever. We can save that argument for another time, though. Game 7 had been preceded by a game the night before that goes down as one of the greatest in history. Game 7 was exciting early but leveled off considerably after that. By the time the Cardinals had built a 4-run lead late, what was once seemingly impossible suddenly felt like an inevitability. Jason Motte shut the door with a David Murphy flyout to left fielder Allen Craig, who was presumably doing it for Torty. The players ran around on the field like madmen and mobbed Motte as the city of St. Louis exploded in joy that their team had actually pulled it off. It was a moment of sports enjoyment that for many Cardinals fans may never be topped.
- What made it so great: Back to Joe Buck. The 2011 World Series had multiple iconic moments, all of which Joe Buck was the play-by-play man for. Now, Buck’s calls of these moments are still controversial, as some feel he was lethargic and did not do the excitement justice. Something to consider, though, was that earlier in 2011 Joe Buck had suffered a paralyzed left vocal cord as a freak reaction to anesthetic used during a hair replacement procedure (no, I’m not kidding). This happened in early 2011 and kept Buck out of action most of the season. It was only by around this time in late October that Buck was close to normal. I could tell, though, as could many others, that he was not 100 percent, which caused his delivery to be more reserved and cautious. With all that being said, I think Buck got this call right, and would have regardless. In my opinion, unless the championship game has a crazy ending (the 2017 Super Bowl or 2018 CFB National Championship, for example) it is actually not best for the call of the championship-winning play to be one where the broadcaster goes crazy with excitement. Instead, I have always preferred for the call to be a composed sound-bite declaration of who became champion, and perhaps another comment or two to punctuate it. This is especially true when the championship is won at home and the crowd is going wild. I should add, for an example of how not to do this, listen to Buck’s call of Adam Wainwright closing out the World Series in 2006, in which he was too aloof and it took something away. Here though, Buck gets it right. “What a team, what a ride” puts it perfectly and succinctly. This was a textbook example of how to call a championship winner.
7. Tatis’s 2nd Grand Slam in One Inning
- Date: April 23, 1999
- Location: Los Angeles
- Broadcaster: Mike Shannon
- Transcript: “Tatis could make in an 11-run inning here in the 3rd. Cardinals have already scored 7. And the pitch, the runners go, 3-2 to Tatis. SWING and a long one! There it is, folks, baseball history! A second grand slam home run for Fernando Tatis in the third inning in Los Angeles, California, and the Cardinals lead it 11-2. Wow! Wooow! Get those record books out, folks!”
- The situation: On a random April night in 1999, Fernando Tatis, whose career as a Cardinal could be considered equally random otherwise, did something that baseball very likely could never see happen again. In the top of the third, the usually-good Chan Ho Park of the Dodgers would have an inning that, suffice it to say, could have gone better. Tatis’s first time at the plate came with bases loaded, and he absolutely crushed Park’s pitch to deep left for a grand slam. Tatis would come to the plate again later that same inning, inexplicably with the bases loaded again with Park still pitching. Tatis would astound everyone watching by hitting a second grand slam to left, his 8th run driven in during the 11-run inning. This is the only time in baseball history that a player has hit two grand slams in one inning, and the chances are good that this feat will never be seen again, if for no other reason than all the variable factors involved in such a thing happening. 1999 was good to Tatis, as he would post a 141 wRC+ in 149 games for St. Louis and the highest single-season fWAR of his career by a decent margin. Best of all, in January, his son Fernando Jr. was born. Fernando Tatis, Jr., by the way, is now playing in the Padres system and is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. If the younger Tatis becomes the second player to hit two grand slams in one inning, sports should be cancelled forever thereafter, because it won’t get any better than that.
- What made it so great: More Mike Shannon! This was such an unbelievable moment that the call was going to be difficult to get wrong. What I like about Shannon’s call is that it rolls with the genuine awe and disbelief of what just happened but still manages to emphasize the historical gravity involved. In between the classic Shannon volume-raised “SWING” and stopping to just let out a shocked “wow,” Shannon describes the time and location to further emphasize to the fans that what just occurred was not merely memorable, but a piece of history. Often, this can be difficult to contextualize in the moment, but Shannon correctly makes it clear that this would be an inning and a performance that would go down in the record books for all time.
6. McGwire Hits #62 of 1998
- Date: September 8, 1998
- Location: St. Louis
- Broadcaster: Joe Buck
- Transcript: “Down the left field line, is it enough? GONE! There it is! 62! Touch first, Mark! You are the new single-season home run king!”
- Situation: For a full, in-depth discussion of the importance and history of the 1998 race to break Roger Maris’s single-season home run record, you can read entry #11 in part 1 of this series, which again can be found here. I touched on the 70th and final home run of that season at Entry #11, and here five entries later we see the home run that actually broke the record. McGwire and Sammy Sosa had both been racing towards Maris’s mark, and while both would eventually break it, McGwire got there first and ended with more than his counterpart (the Cubs, though, would win the Central division while the Cardinals finished 3rd and missed the playoffs). On September 4, Sosa would homer to tie the race at 59. The next day, both would homer to reach the 60 mark (McGwire’s came off of future Cardinals LOOGY Dennys Reyes!) and once again tie, this time just one away from Maris’s record. This tie would stand leading into a Cardinals/Cubs series in St. Louis. On September 7, McGwire would hit the record-tying home run off of Mike Morgan, and would waste little time breaking the record, with #62 coming in the fourth inning on September 8 off of Steve Trachsel. Whatever we think of 1998 and the Steroid Era of baseball now, it is still enjoyable for many (myself included) to look back on the fun of that year with fondness. Almost twenty years later, the scene with McGwire getting congratulations from Cubs players as he rounded the bases and play stopping for 11 minutes seems surreal and like nothing we will ever witness again.
- What made it so great: I give Joe Buck a ton of credit here, as this was a difficult situation. Everyone knew that we were on the cusp of history. A lesser broadcaster would have agonized over what to say when the moment came and forced the delivery. For Buck, though, it came naturally. What makes the call is really the simplicity. The moment spoke for itself and everyone knew what was on the line, so it did not need a great deal of commentary. I also always have thought the “touch first, Mark” was a nice little addition. McGwire in his elation had to be reminded by Dave McKay to actually touch first. Since it happened and was a part of the moment, it was right for Joe to mention it, but doing so just as a brief, almost playful quip that transitioned into crowning him as the new home run king was a great way to handle it. Buck then yielded to the crowd at Busch II which was going bonkers, since nothing he could add would say more than the roar of the 49,987 fans. Even if we consider this moment to be bittersweet now because of what came later, Buck got the call absolutely right.
Two parts down, and only one more to go! Keep your eyes peeled for Part 3 to come soon. Part 3 will feature entries 5-1 plus a bonus honorable mention. These will include another championship winner, a hometown hero, a wizard, and a career-defining moment from an all-time Cardinals great.
Until then, please read the rest of the fine content on this wonderful new site full of talented writers. If you want to see more of my thoughts on Cardinals baseball and other sometimes-interesting stuff, follow me on twitter at @turpin4prez. Finally, if you want to learn some good old-fashioned Midwestern cooking and read some stories about my crazy but awesome family, check out my mom’s blog thekitchenwench.com, in which I occasionally pop up and try not to ruin things. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, we’d love to hear from you!