When you listen to Mike Shannon call a Cardinals game on KMOX, hilarity can occur. Sunday afternoon, my wife walked out on the porch, where I was listening to a Cards-Marlins game online, and she heard Shannon’s voice.
“Mike Shannon sounds like he’s drunk,” my wife said.
“He’s awake,” I said.
Since the irreplaceable Jack Buck is dead and Busch Stadium II is no more, Mike Shannon is one of the few remaining flashbacks to my childhood. Shannon is a treasure, sober or drunk. He mispronounces names and flubs words and is everything today’s radio announcers aren’t. I don’t care. I adore the man. But I admit there are times when I don’t know whether to believe everything he says.
Shannon and his broadcast partner, John Rooney, were discussing the Cardinals’ upcoming spring game against the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. Rooney jokingly asked Shannon if he planned on visiting Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, while they were in the Bluff City.
As if on cue, Shannon broke into what he said was his favorite story about Elvis, which went something like this.
While in Memphis in the 19960s doing a St. Louis Hawks basketball game, Harry Caray — yes, that Harry Caray — answered the phone in his hotel room. On the other end was a fan who said his name was Elvis Presley.
Caray scoffed and hung up.
Elvis called back.
Caray hung up.
Elvis called a third time — telling Caray that if he didn’t believe him, come down to the lobby in a few minutes and see for himself.
Caray did — and Elvis got out of his car parked outside the hotel.
I’d never heard that story, and given the way tales involving Elvis Presley and Harry Caray are so often embellished, I wondered if Shannon was telling anything close to the truth. Not a lie, but just a classic Shannonism. Anything for a good story.
Turns out, his story is essentially true, though Caray doesn’t confirm that he twice hung up on Presley. (Go to the 6:15 mark to hear Caray recount that night in Memphis.)
Now, who do you believe? Caray or Bob Costas, who in this clip essentially tells the same story — but says Caray was broadcasting a St. Louis University game in Memphis, not a St. Louis Hawks game.
I believe Caray. And I’ll never again doubt Mike Shannon. Lesson learned.