Home Baseball St. Louis Sports Figures That Passed Away In 2023

St. Louis Sports Figures That Passed Away In 2023

List Includes Quartet From Cardinals' 1964 World Series Championship Team

by Brian Ledford

2023 saw the passing of those connected with the St. Louis sports scene. Some had lengthy ties within the local community while others had smaller, but impactful, bursts of association with the athletic teams they were affiliated with.

Within the group included four members of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 1964 World Series championship team as well as nationally-recognized competitors and off-field associates in their respective sporting careers. All will be missed and their individual achievements should be recognized and celebrated.

Here is a look back at those with St. Louis connections that departed this past year (in alphabetical order.)

MARK ARNESON – St. Louis Football Cardinals – A powerhouse linebacker that spent nine seasons with the gridiron Redbirds (1972-80), Arneson passed away April 14 at the age of 73. Claimed by the Cardinals in the second round of the 1972 NFL draft (#32 overall), he played in 127 NFL career games, all with the locals. Arneson was named the organization’s “Rookie of the Year” after starting the final ten games of the team’s 1972 regular season. In his NFL ledger, he played on two post-season Cardinals’ teams (1974-75) and collected one NFL touchdown via a fumble recovery on September 9, 1979 against the New York Giants.

ROGER CRAIG – St. Louis Cardinals Championship Pitcher – A hurler for the Cardinals’ 1964 World Series championship team, Craig passed away June 4 at the age of 93. Beginning his 11-year major league pitching career in 1955 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the right-hander played for five teams which included a one-season stint with the Redbirds in 1964.

In that season, Craig pitched in 39 games and had a 7-9 record with five saves. His greatest local achievement was his appearance in the 1964 World Series as a middle reliver in Game 4 against the New York Yankees, which the Cardinals came from behind to collect a 4-3 win and tied the series 2-2. The Redbirds would eventually beat the Yankees, four games to three, to collect the team’s then-seventh World Series’ championship.

After his 1966 retirement, Craig converted into coaching and oversaw hurlers for three separate franchises (San Diego, Houston and Detroit) and was a member of the Tigers’ staff during their 1984 championship run. He also had an eight year-stint as manager for the San Francisco Giants (1985-92), where he had an overall record of 586-566 and one World Series appearance (1989).

CONRAD DOBLER – St. Louis Football Cardinals Lineman – A multiple-time NFL Pro Bowl offensive guard that had a six-season tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970’s, Dobler passed away February 13 at the age of 72. The 6-3, 250-pounder was selected by St. Louis in the 1972 NFL Draft and spent solid seasons side-by-side with tackle Dan Dierdorf as a primary cog of the “Cardiac Cardinals’” offensive line. During his stint with the Redbirds, the squad reached the NFC Division Playoffs in 1974 and 1975.

Dobler played in three consecutive NFL Pro Bowls (1975-1977) while with the Cardinals, but was inevitably regarded by many as one of the most aggressive, if not dirtiest, guards in the game. This comedically resulted in his graphic identifier as “Famous Troublemaker” in a 1987 Miller Lite beer commercial. His final years of play included stints with New Orleans and Buffalo. Dobler played in 129 NFL games during his ten-year career, which included one touchdown scored off a fumble recovery in 1977 against the New York Giants.

GREG FOSTER – Olympic Hurdler/MICDS Administrator – The long-time administrator at Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School, considered one of the most decorated hurdlers in track and field, passed away February 19 at the age of 64 after a lengthy battle with amyloidosis. The Chicago native won the silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and won three consecutive World Championship gold medals in the same event in 1983, 1987 and 1991.

Foster retired from competition in 1996 and his career achievements resulted in him being inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1998. He joined MICDS in 2013 and mentored athletes in both the track and field and football departments and served as the school’s coordinator of student engagement.

GEORGE FRAZIER – St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher – A relief pitcher for Cardinals in the late 1970s that went on to collect a championship ring with the Minnesota Twins in their World Series title win over the Redbirds in 1987, Foster passed away June 19 at the age of 68. The right-hander debuted with St. Louis in 1978 and pitched for three seasons in a set-up role, where he competed in 59 games and notched three victories. His tenth, and final, season of play in 1987 saw him compete with the Twins, where he picked up five wins during the regular season and was on the active roster when the team topped the Cardinals, four games to three, in the World Series later that October. Post-career, Frazier had a 17-year tenure with the Colorado Rockies’ broadcast team as an analyst.

DICK GROAT – St. Louis Cardinals Championship Shortstop – An eight-time MLB All-Star shortstop that helped the Cardinals win the 1964 World Series, Groat passed away April 27 at the age of 92. His career began with Pittsburgh in 1952 and during his tenure with the team, he won the National League MVP Award in 1960 as the Pirates claimed the 1960 World Series title. He continued his career with St. Louis in 1963 and helped the Redbirds win the 1964 World Series title over the New York Yankees on the same squad as the aforementioned Roger Craig. In his three-year stint with the Cardinals (1963-65), he played in 452 games and collected 210 runs and 195 RBIs. Groat is one of only 13 players historically that has played in both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball League, thanks to a two-season career with the Fort Wayne Pistons in the early 1950’s.

RICK HUMMEL – Hall of Fame Baseball Writer – A career-long St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball beat reporter whose tenure with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spanned five decades, the scribe known as “The Commish” passed away May 20 at the age of 77. After graduating from the University of Missouri with a journalism degree in 1968, Hummel joined the Post-Dispatch staff in 1971, covering the St. Louis Stars, the St. Louis Spirits, and other regional teams.

The paper promoted Hummel to St. Louis Cardinals’ coverage in 1973 and his career blossomed with continuous daily submissions of the team until 2002. During the stretch, his peers elected him as President of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1994 and served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Overview Committee. Hummel was the 2007 winner of the Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing and was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. After his 2022 retirement, he continued to contribute articles to the Associated Press until his passing. Author of three baseball books, his name is permanently etched in tribute at the current Busch Stadium press box alongside Post-Dispatch colleague Bob Broeg.

BRENDAN McALLISTER – Missouri Baptist University Soccer Player – A standout prep soccer player that was instrumental in Christian Brothers College’s Class 4 championship team of 2018, McAllister passed away in late-April at the age of 23. After graduation from CBC, McAllister continued his career at St. Charles Community College for a two-year stretch as a midfielder, where he played 33 games and netted four goals and one assist. McAllister transferred to Missouri Baptist in the fall of 2021 and had a breakthrough season on the pitch for the Spartans’ 2022 campaign, where they finished 12-6. He played in all 18 games that year and was set to be a key component for the upcoming 2023 squad in his final season of eligibility.

TIM McCARVER – St. Louis Cardinals Championship Catcher/Major League Baseball Broadcaster – With an on-field MLB career that spanned over two decades, ten of which was with the St. Louis Cardinals, and a post-play tenure as a fixture of nationally-televised baseball broadcasts, McCarver passed away February 16 due to heart failure at the age of 81.

The Christian Brothers High School grad was signed by the Cardinals in 1959 and won World Series’ championship rings with the team in 1964 and 1967. During that stint, he was named to the National League’s All-Star Team in 1966 and 1967. In his 21 seasons within the majors for four teams collectively, McCarver played in over 1,900 games and hit 97 home runs and 645 RBIs. In his catching career, he caught 121 shutouts, ranking him ninth all-time.

After his 1980 retirement, McCarver moved into the broadcast booth, first working for Philadelphia Phillies’ games, but then was jettisoned to a high-profile level in the mid-1980’s. He would inevitably provide analysis for all nationally-televised networks until 2013. Behind the mic, McCarver worked 23 World Series and 20 All-Star Games, earning three national Emmy Awards along the way. He was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2016 and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2017.

TED SAVAGE – St. Louis Cardinals Outfielder & Staff Employee – The Venice, Illinois native that played nine major league seasons, which included tenure with the Cardinals from 1965 to 1967, Savage passed away January 15 at the age of 85. He played in 642 career games with eight different teams. After his baseball career ended in 1971, he earned a PhD in Urban Studies from Saint Louis University and spent nine years as athletic director at Harris-Stowe State University. In 1987, Savage was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals as assistant director of community relations and as a minor-league instructor until his 2012 retirement.

BEN SIEGFRIED – XFL Battlehawks Trainer – During the St. Louis Battlehawks’ return to the turf in the 2023 XFL season, Siegfried, who served as one of the squad’s athletic trainers, passed away in Arlington, Texas on March 10 in the weight room at the hotel the team was stationed at. The cause of death for the 22-year-old was never publicly revealed. Before joining the Battlehawks’ coaching staff, Siegfried played defensive tackle at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania (2018-22) and was named to the All-MAC Sportsmanship Team in his senior season.

MIKE SHANNON – St. Louis Cardinals Championship Player/Broadcaster – One of the most-beloved members of the St. Louis Cardinals’ franchise, first as a player for nine seasons then subsequently as a radio broadcaster for almost five decades, Shannon passed away April 29 at the age of 83.

The St. Louis native joined the team in 1962 as a supplemental outfielder and became the team’s starting right fielder in 1964. His peak as a player saw him as a major component of the Cardinals’ 1964 and 1967 World Series championship squads. Shannon was converted to third base with the team’s acquisition of Roger Maris in 1967 and remained at that position until his 1970 retirement. During his nine-season MLB ledger, all with the Redbirds, he played in 882 career games and notched 68 home runs and 367 RBIs.

After retirement, Shannon joined the franchise’s promotional department and was subsequently positioned to the team’s radio broadcast booth in 1972. In his first three decades of work, the “Moonman” was side-by-side with Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck for calls on KMOX-AM.  During his tenure behind the mic, Shannon covered three Cardinals’ championship teams (1982, 2006 and 2011) and was known for his “Get Up Baby, Get Up!” signature call.

In a broadcasting career that covered thousands of Cardinals’ games, Shannon won a regional Emmy Award in 1985, was named Missouri Broadcaster of the Year in 2002 and 2003, was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. He was also the proprietor of Mike Shannon’s Steak and Seafood in downtown St. Louis from 1986 until 2016.

By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

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