There is a new addition to the walls of Mike Shannon's Steaks & Seafood, the sports-memorabilia-choked downtown eatery owned by the former Cardinal and longtime game-caller. The addition is a holographic portrait of Shannon, and it's hilarious. Holograms, like tailfins and nuclear-powered dishwashers, are part of the future-culture that will never be. Shannon, however, is so old-school that a portrait made with a hunk of driftwood and a wood-burning kit would have been much more appropriate. He's an old-fashioned original in an industry filled with cookie-cutter Bob Costas imitators and garden-variety jock-sniffers.
His Shannonisms include the "Whoo! What a beauty!" for a nasty curve ball, "Mmm-mmm-mmm!" in admiration of a player's skills, "the worm has turned" when yesterday's victors become today's losers and his trademark, the exclamation Shannon uses to describe the uniquely amusing properties of the umpteenth game you've just heard: "Ol' Abner has done it again!" Don't forget Shannon's beverage of choice, the "ice-cold frosty Busch."
Commenting recently on an exhibition of grace by new Cards third-baseman Scott Rolen, Shannon said "this guy can dance like ... Joel, who is that Russian guy?" Shannon's partner and straight man, Joel Meyers, says, "I don't know -- Baryshnikov?" "Yeah, that's the guy," says Shannon. Soon after Shannon says, "We need a pitcher's best friend here: the old double-play ball. Ha-ha! Yessirree." The amazing thing is, he never stops. You can hear this stuff coming from Shannon's mouth for nine innings straight, six months a year.
Perhaps the greatest Shannon moments come when he's sharing a story about some retired teammate, and you can hear the crowd roar behind him. Something important has just happened in the game, but we aren't going to find out what until his story ends! The beloved Jack Buck may be gone, but we've still got the Costello to his Abbott, Mike Shannon.