Media Opinions: Despite his troubles, Dan McLaughlin has done a lot for St. Louis

What a sad time for St. Louis.

One of the area’s most well-known citizens—the Cardinals’ TV voice, no less—lost his job due to yet another bad decision related to his self-confessed alcoholism.

Dan McLaughlin, who left Cardinals communications company Bali Sports Midwest in what was described Thursday as a mutual decision after his third arrest recently for drunk driving, has no excuses for the latest incident. Some people want to discredit him, which is understandable after the officer who arrested him last week in Crieff Coeur said McLaughlin was a “danger to society” for his actions.

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But there is another side to this man, the man who has helped generate countless dollars for local charities, and who made an impassioned plea to help get a Major League Soccer franchise for the city.

A few months ago, the show’s 20th charity golf and auction tournament raised $400,000, according to its website, to help children with disabilities “achieve success in school and beyond.” More than $20 million has been raised in the two decades that the event has been held.

He has also helped raise over $2 million for the National Children’s Cancer Society, and has been active in a program bringing underprivileged or ill children and their families to a Cardinals game. He’s been a huge supporter of the Ascension Charity Classic, the St. Louis stop on the PGA Champions Tour that organizers said has given more than $1 million to worthy causes this year.

The list goes beyond these activities.

He was an outspoken supporter of the successful efforts of being an MLS team and a stadium for St. Louis, appearing before a committee of the St. Louis Aldermans urging a tax-exempt plan for the stadium to be approved.

“I’m here because I love this city,” he said at the meeting. “I want to make this clear: I have no skin, in this game. I have no ownership, no job opportunities, no financial interests in this team or this stadium. no one.

“One of the consistent themes I hear is that we as a city are not making enough progress,” he added. “So as soon as I heard about this project and how it works, I thought to myself that I can either sit back and do nothing or wake up as a caring citizen and use my platform, my voice, help and try to make a difference.”

He knew he could anger some people by getting involved in a political situation but said it was worth the risk.

“I’m not a politician,” he told the Post-Dispatch then. “I call 6-4-3 double play for a living. Me an act I do have a platform though, a voice and I wanted to use it for something I’m passionate about. For me, this is more than just a sport. Our city needs to win.”

human side

The ramifications of McLaughlin’s recent bad decision are far-reaching, a bleak story with many angles.

Not only is his well-paying job gone, but he’s only 48 years old and should be in the prime of his career. He still has his own “Scoops with Danny Mac” business, which includes a website with sports commentary and podcasts as well as a TV show that airs on KTVI (channel 2) at 10:30pm on Sundays. But the station didn’t air it last week, and general manager Kurt Kreuger said Thursday that the show is “on hiatus” there until a decision is made about its future.

McLaughlin has a family – his wife, Libby, and four children. Of course they are all affected.

There are legal ramifications that could lead to a prison sentence.

“As I move forward, I ask for your patience and privacy,” he said in a statement released Thursday when his departure from the Cardinals’ BSM radio booth was announced. “Thank you. God bless.”


McLaughlin was a local success story.

And what a rise he is, from growing up in the Chippewa Jamison area of ​​South St. Louis and attending Vianney High School to blossoming into the television voice of the Cardinals and arguably the most prominent sportscaster in the market.

As an 18-year-old college freshman at Lindenwood, he worked as a disc jockey at a campus radio station and also drove to small towns to broadcast high school games, sometimes sleeping in his car between assignments.

He parlayed Lindenwood’s work ethic and connection into an internship at KMOX (1120 AM) in their high-level sports department. KMOX General Manager Robert Hyland, who made the station one of the most successful in radio history, had a connection with the school and McLaughlin certainly took advantage of his opportunity.

After working behind the scenes for about a year, he was finally given an on-air assignment — taping live Saturday morning sports programming that recaps Friday night action.

Employees usually quickly output this report at the end of their Friday night shift. But McLaughlin, then 20, would stay until the wee hours, rewriting and re-recording.

“I would sometimes stay there until five trying to get it right,” he once said. “This was my break, and I’m not going to miss it.”

In the late 1990s he went to another station and then back to KMOX before getting his next big break, and in 1998 he was offered a position on the Cardinals’ regional television network – Fox Sports Net at the time.

That was the first step in his meteoric rise, which quickly took off. The following year, he was promoted to play-by-play on FSN’s Cards road games, replacing veteran Bob Ramsey. McLaughlin was 24 and he was the boy wonder.

“He’s a guy with a great future in this business,” said Jack Donovan, who was then the general manager of FSN and is still in charge of the channel that evolved into Bally Sports Midwest. “There was no dissatisfaction with Bob, it was just that we had a young, rising star available. … If we don’t get him, someone else will.”

McLaughlin has also acted on Blues TV shows, several college basketball games, and done some NFL contests. In fact, he has been working on several recent Blues TV shows in a studio role.

know where it is

McLaughlin knew he was lucky and in the right place at the right time, getting his start when the transition of sports from over-the-air television to cable television was in its heyday—as is sports now moving from cable to broadcast television. Cable opportunities seemed limitless at the time.

“I know I worked hard,” he told the Post-Dispatch in 2002, “but a lot of guys work hard and can do that. I’m still totally shocked that I’m doing all this.”

His stature continued to grow, and for the past seven seasons he was the Cardinals’ only televised announcer on a one-on-one basis, doing all locally produced home and road games—about 150 games a year.

He had many dramatic calls and this year could have been his best, what happened with Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols in their final season and Paul Goldschmidt being named National League MVP set the stage for many storybook moments.

The season climaxed for McLaughlin with him calling the Cards into the playoffs for the first time. Since there was no local television in the postseason, he was previously left out. But local radio keeps going into the playoffs, and a decision was made to add him to that crew for a few regular season games that weren’t in BSM as well as all of the Redbirds’ playoff contests. There were only two of them, but McLaughlin was thrilled at the opportunity.

“I’m so happy,” McLaughlin told the Post-Dispatch in October. “…I’ve had many opportunities to leave to work on national television, other organizations, and play other sports, but I’ve turned them down. Why? Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to call a playoff game at the Cardinals. That’s my dream come true.” To play baseball.”

He never hesitated to express how much he appreciated the job.

“It’s been an amazing ride for me personally,” he told the Post-Dispatch in October. “The game has changed, but not my love for the game and this organization. To say, ‘I can call Cardinals games,’ is more important to me than all the national business that’s been offered. It’s beyond the biggest deal ever offered to me. I can call games in my hometown, and do “That’s for the DeWitts team. They’ve been amazing to me and the biggest fan base in the sport. That’s more important to me than anything else I’ll ever have the chance to do.”

‘live the dream’

McLaughlin may have summed up how much on-air talk about the Cardinals is for him in 2020, when discussing a radio show he had started doing on WXOS (101.1 FM), a program that ran for about a year.

“Speaking Cardinals baseball is my dream come true,” he said. “I grew up in South St. Louis and I love this organization. Ozzie Smith was my idol, and I love him now more than ever. That says a lot for a kid who used to sleep in his baseball uniform all summer. Yes, I am serious. … I’m proud Very much to be from our city.

“…I’m living my dream. That’s all I ever wanted to do. In this post, you realize what Cardinals mean to the elderly, the sick, families, children, and the pride of our town. It’s huge. So talking about it means more than anyone knows. It’s special to me.” “I’m trying to promote our city and the Cardinals. This is a great place. My connection to baseball is more than just a job. It’s a relationship with my late dad, who was gone some time ago. We bonded with St. Louis sports. We bonded with the Cardinals. That’s why I love the Cardinals.”

Columnist Jeff Gordon assigns year-end pitches to St. Louis Cardinals hitters.

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