Join us on this episode as we sit down with Bill DeWitt, III, the President of the St. Louis Cardinals since 2008. We delve into his pivotal role in overseeing every aspect of the team and its affiliates, including the visionary development of Ballpark Village. From the excitement surrounding Ohtani’s deal to the complexities of blackout games on television, even robotic umpires, we unravel the business behind baseball. Get ready for an insider’s perspective on the game, its challenges, and the intriguing intersection of sports and business.
The Circuit of Success podcast. Welcome to the Circuit of Success. I’m your host Brett Gilliland and today I’ve got Bill DeWitt III with me.
Bill, how you doing? I’m great. Good to be here. Awesome.
Thanks for coming over. I’ve got to give a shout out to Timmy Hanser. Tim is in our firm, visionary wealth advisors, and you guys go way back, right? We go all the way back.
All the way back. Our dads were in high school together here at my CDS. Yep.
And then they went to college together, and we used to do family trips with them. And then of course, you know, his family’s part of the Cardinals as well. So yeah, it goes way back.
That’s awesome. Well, great, great guy. We’re lucky to have him.
And so you are a Yale graduate and a Harvard graduate. That’s pretty impressive. A Scratch golfer.
Maybe. Plus or minus. Plus or minus.
President of St. Louis Cardinals, of course. And also in the St. Louis Sports Commission Board, which we share a mutual board there. I did not go to the Christmas party last night.
Did you go? I did not. I was unable to make it. So we’ll dive in a lot of great stuff today, Bill.
But before we get started, could you kind of just give us a backstory? What’s made you the man you are today? I know that’s a big question, but there’s usually something in there that I like to draw out of people and would love to hear your message. Yeah. I mean, I think for me, starts with family, you know, born and raised in Cincinnati.
My parents are both from St. Louis. They, they were raised here. But in the my dad’s father, my grandfather, was in baseball’s whole life.
And he bounced around. So he was with the Browns, the Cardinals, the Yankees, the Tigers. And then in in various roles, but mainly as general manager and part owners of some of those.
But he also, his big move was to move to Cincinnati in the early 60s. And he bought the rats. So he was the sole owner and general manager.
Wow. And so my family moved there. And then he sold it late 60s.
But my dad, my parents stayed in Cincinnati and raised us there. So when my dad got involved in the Cardinals and led the group that bought it from Anheuser-Busch back in 1996, it was sort of a homecoming for them. Yeah.
But it was a new city for me. Right. So you were held at that time? I was just at a business school here.
And late 20s. And so that’s kind of how I ended up here. But as far as like what made me who I am, that is a big question to start with.
Coming out strong. Yeah. I mean, I just would say it’s where I’m family oriented.
Love being part of the St. Louis community. And I think, you know, for me, this has been such a great platform to just kind of do what I do, which is I like to do a lot of different things. You know, so my role with the Cardinals keeps me very busy and mostly on the business side of things, but obviously occasionally on the baseball side, mostly on the strategic level.
But even with that busy job, I feel like, and I’ve always felt that, you know, to be mentally healthy, I have to also be doing sports and, you know, doing events or things with my kids or my wife or whatever. And then also, I have an artistic side and that which I pursue. And so it’s really about like, I think having my toe in a lot of different waters.
Yeah. That’s sort of what I would say describes my approach to life. So I know there’s no typical day using air quotes there.
But so what is a typical day like for Build-A-Wit? Well, I mean, any given day, I’ll have two or three meetings at least. So that’s sort of you bounce around those, either with staff or with, particularly this time of year, which is our budget season or planning for next year and wrapping up sort of the employee appraisal process where you’re thinking talking about employees and always fun. Yeah.
But we have a great organization and that’s you know, not too hard. And so meetings about various topics, how we’re planning for next year, whether it might be like we’re building a new club in the stadium. So meeting with the construction people on that today.
Meeting with some of my direct reports about how we want to handle, you know, budgeting, capital expenditures in other areas. But you know, it depends on the time of year in terms of what my day to day is. So for example, right now it’s a lot of that stuff planning.
But as you get towards the spring, you know, I’ll spend some time down in Jupiter with some spring training related activities. And then you get through that period and then you’re back to opening day and you’re planning for the whole show, right? And so, and that’s more of a focus on the operational aspect of the business and how we’re putting on the show in terms of the logistics of the game, the ticketing, the game day entertainment. We might be doing some things relative to leasing at ballpark village meetings with that.
Regular meetings on design and planning for maybe a second phase of ballpark village. We, you know, we talk about a lot of, we’re doing a big redo of the Jupiter facility. So there’s a lot of meetings around that.
So, you know, there’s just a lot of different topics. Oh, another big topic right now, I’m meeting a lot with people about is our regional and local cable situation, local TV, media is a big sort of disrupted area of our business. So really trying to understand that, trying to understand really what our market really looks like from a TV standpoint, how it’s evolved, how it’s changed over time.
And, and where we want to go, if in fact we end up having to sort of handle our TV rights if they come back to us, you know, because right now, Bally Sports Midwest, who pays us a rights fee to broadcast our games, is in bankruptcy. So, or their parent company’s metrics. So, that may be something that we have to dive into.
And so we’re doing a lot of planning around that. Is that a good thing? Or, I mean, obviously not a good thing about Bally’s, but to take it back versus I read an article last night, maybe Amazon investing money. Is that what you look at that? I kind of view it as a mixed bag of pluses and minuses.
I think from the purely fan standpoint, it’s actually a plus. And here’s what I mean. Over the last decade and really exacerbating in the last several years, as you know, well, I’ll take the big picture and then dial down.
You know, call it eight years ago, nine years ago, 10 years ago, there were about 120 million households that were subscribing to the bundle, the cable TV bundle. Okay, that was how everybody got their content. That number is now down to about 60 million.
So everybody’s cut the cord, right? And now everybody streams their, you know, ESPN or Disney or Netflix or Amazon Prime, whatever it may be. And they’ve, a lot of people have cut the cord on the bundle. Well, that hasn’t been good for sports teams, or particularly the RSNs that are paying sports teams their rights fees, because, you know, the bundle payments every month that people were paying, you know, a chunk of their little piece of that.
So let’s say you paid $120 for your bundle, usually around $4 to $5 of that was going to charter or to AT&T, Uverse or Comcast or whoever. And then going straight to the regional sports network. So every month, everybody on the bundle was paying that annual fee and it was working its way into the sports ecosystem.
The RSN, the regional sports network would then pay the teams a rights fee and they were the middleman, they would broadcast our games, they’d pick us a big, big annual fee every year and collect those monthly revenue streams, which is good for cash flow for that. It was great for us, for sports teams. And when I say sports teams, really, at all majorly, you know, football, baseball, basketball, hockey.
And that is kind of getting really disrupted. And when I, what’s happened is, is as people have cut the cord, these legacy deals that we’ve had with the RSNs require that we stay on the bundle and don’t actually distribute our games through any other platform, because they wanted exclusivity, which drove people to the bundle. Well, now that people are cutting the cord and now they, and they’re not on the bundle, well, now they don’t have access to the bundle to the extent that we’re still in these long term deals.
So if it breaks apart and we get our rights back, we’re actually going to create a broader distribution platform for our fans. So if you were on like, for example, like Dish, and you got Cardinal games, well, they’ve dropped the regional sports networks, because of all the cord cutting, they could afford it. And now if you’re still on there, you don’t get Cardinal games, for example, or blues games.
And so you’re essentially blacked out. You’re not getting the games. Or if you’ve just cut the cord and don’t have the bundle, there’s no direct to consumer product.
There’s no app, yeah, on which to get the Cardinals and blues games. If this all falls apart, we get our rights back. We would create one of those apps.
So every Cardinal app, I can log into that watching my big TV or my phone. Exactly. Yeah, you would finally have access if you’re not on one of those bundles that still have us like charter.
So from a long winded answer to your question that I think it would be good for consumers and for our fans who will now have a way to access our product if they’ve been cut off. For the teams, it’s like a step back before we get to step forward. So there will be, and we’re already seeing it, it hasn’t quite hit us yet, but we’re planning on it, teams are going to get less than they were promised.
Because if in the old system, they were getting this guaranteed rights fee growing every year, the middleman was this RSN parent company Diamond Sports. They were using their leverage of having all these teams to get distribution everywhere, and it was a big business. They’ve fallen on hard times, they’re in bankruptcy.
And now those rights will come back to teams. They already have, for example, in several of the baseball teams last year. And now the teams have to go out and get their rights fees themselves.
It’s sort of eat what you kill. And because of the way it was all packaged before, they were getting more and they’ll have to, in most cases, take significant step backwards. But I think that there’s a path perhaps over time to get back to where we were and then grow up beyond that with again a better model for consumers.
Interesting. Thanks for sharing that. It’s a lot there.
I mean, that’s a talk around us, you know, folks, I still have it. I have the bundle package, so I can get the card on game. And half the reason I do that is for the card on game, right? So it’s, yeah, it’s interesting.
But behaviors are changing so much. I mean, oh, these guys that are in our studio here, they’re probably looking at their screens and getting their content from the device in their pocket as opposed to, so there’s a lot of change in disruption. And we got to understand what those patterns are and do right by our fans and really give them better access.
So I mean, how do you think about speaking of these guys over here? So, you know, when I was a kid, I mean, I remember the days of, you know, I didn’t have a phone as competition to watch and watching all the social media stuff, but I was the goofy guy that was doing the scorebook, right? And doing that watching Cardinal games and all that. I don’t, I don’t see it as much with kids. And I’ve got four boys.
I don’t see it as much with kids sitting down watching a whole game. So how are you planning for that to make sure your product stays relevant for that generation? Yeah, I think it’s a, it’s a big topic, but just I’ll be sort of brief for my answer. Baseball is trying to evolve to that newer pattern.
The biggest change, I think, which was well received was the pitch clock last year. It increased the pace of games. We took, you know, 26 minutes off the average game.
That was a huge move for an industry that hasn’t, you know, innovated very much over the last century. So that was well received. I think the pace of the game is a lot better.
And I think baseball is really in some respects. And I think they should apologize for this. It’s different.
It’s different than hockey, which I love. It’s different than football and basketball in the sense that it’s a summer sport. There are more games than these other sports.
It’s really a conversation. It’s a soundtrack of the summer. And when you go to a game with your kids, you know, it’s about passing along tradition and enjoying a nice lazy day.
Of course, there’s tension and excitement in a game as it builds. But I think that in some ways, it’s a relief and a break from the frenetic move from one little dopamine hit to the next every day and every content thing that people are absorbing. And so I think we need to position ourselves as the anti phones.
Now, yes, we have to be available on every device and people need to be able to see it. But the reality is, kids aren’t going to watch three plus hours of baseball on their device. It just doesn’t, you know, so in the old days, you would, you know, have a cookout and it would be on the radio in the background, right? That’s how you absorbed it.
That’s how you enjoyed the soundtrack. Now, everything’s a little quicker, not quite as slow, but I think baseball can be that way to pause and be almost like this generational story that we keep repeating. And I think if we position it that way, while making changes to the game to give it a better pace, a better cadence, a better version of itself, more balls in play, more lead changes, more hits, less strikeouts.
I think those two things sell what it is against the way the other sports are, but also move towards a little quicker pace. Those two things, I think, will keep us relevant, like it. I’m bouncing around between baseball and just normal life.
For you outside of baseball, obviously, you’ve had a great journey and meant a lot of amazing people, I’m sure, along that journey. Can you share some of those, some of the things that people have stuck out for you that you’ve learned stuff from them that’s really helped mold who you are today? Oh, gosh, yeah. I mean, I would say in the passions that I have on business-wise, I got to throw my dad in there.
Just a great mentor. You know, it kind of, to me, is the model of somebody who can be successful and effective while also being a nice guy and being very compassionate and somebody who cares about people in the organization. And, you know, that’s a great model because, you know, a dictator can also be very effective.
And I’ve seen it, you know, in business and then we all see it in politics sometimes, too, but I’d rather be successful and get to the same place while pulling everybody along. And that’s been my, my business mentor. I would put Mark Lamping in there, too.
He had my job before I did and ran the Cardinals in a little different way, but I took over from him and he was, um, uh, kind of showed me the ropes in terms of how to oversee the business side of things. He’s with the Panthers now? He’s now with the Jacks. Jacks.
Well, Jacks. Yeah. He’s, after the Cardinals, he went and helped the Jets and Giants finish out the, that’s a big stadium, you know, and then did the Jaguars where he is now.
Um, I would say from a, um, a creative standpoint, I had this teacher in high school. His name was Mark Potter. He was a great artist and, and his own right.
Uh, and he was one of these guys who, um, you know, like when you’re a kid in art class, the teacher will like, sort of not touch your painting and be like, Oh, well, maybe you should consider this or look up this artist and get an example of what you might want to, where you want to go with this. This guy would be like, he was the opposite of that. He would come into your, into your, uh, space and be like, get out of here.
Give me this. And he would start painting and working on it and he would take it from, it was like a two. He would take it to like a seven and he’d be like, now you take it from seven to 10.
And it would just be like the funniest thing you would watch and people were like bombed and like, this thing’s a piece of crap and he’d be like, yeah, it is. Let us just like, he made it so fun. And it was like, um, it was an inspiration for me because, um, he also had other talents, but he just had this impulse to be creative and he couldn’t help himself.
And it was contagious. And so that’s kind of stuck with me. That’s interrupt.
I think made me think of leadership. Sometimes, you know, you have a young man or woman working and, and get a pull them with you. You can see in them what they may not see in themselves yet.
So I don’t know why my mind went there, but maybe did that also help you see bigger than what you could see before, right? Yeah, for sure. I mean, um, well, it’s inspiring when you’re, you’re stuck on a problem and somebody just, you know, they can fix it and they do that and you’re just kind of like, wow. Um, and then, uh, so that, that was sort of a mentor on the creative side.
Um, I mean, on the athletic side, I would say, you know, various coaches along the way have meant a lot to me. Um, and you know, people that just have that passion for sports that rubs off. And again, that’s what carries you sometimes because, you know, sports can be frustrating, business can be frustrating.
But when you meet somebody along your journey who is like embraces that, embraces the, the struggle and works, figures out a way to get through it. Yeah. Um, those are kind of the mentors that stick with you and keep you going and keep you, you know, motivated to keep doing what you’re doing.
Who was that person? If there is any that was maybe gave you tough love. You didn’t like it in the moment. Uh, but you look back, you know, I got hit in my back.
Yeah. Uh, I think back to high school when, um, uh, you know, I was, I guess early in freshman or something year, I was just not writing well. I was like a struggle for me.
And, uh, I had a teacher that was just crushing me on the grades, but it would be like, I’d get the paperback and it was just marked up. There’d be paragraphs of how you should have moved it over to this topic or moved it on. And then kind of by the end of it, it’s really similar to that, that artistic example I gave.
Um, and I grinded through it. Um, and just the guy worked with me on it. And it, you know, if a teacher like invests that time in you, it’s so motivating because you don’t want to let the person down.
Right. And by the end of sophomore year, I was in honors English. And that was like truly attributable to that one teacher who basically saw something in me.
And, you know, just was like, no, you’re going to get better at this, you know, and brought me along. Yeah. When the teacher was, what’s the old saying? The teacher appears when the student is ready.
Yeah. You were ready. Oh, yeah.
I think I was. So, um, how do you stay a student speaking of being a student? How do you stay a student of the game now with your role today with the Cardinals and all the other stuff you’ve got going in your world? Um, because you didn’t, you know, you didn’t go to construction school and you didn’t do this. You didn’t do that, but you got to put a lot of pieces of the puzzle together.
So how are you stating a student in the game? Yeah, I would say, um, um, probably from a baseball oversight standpoint, it’s pretty easy because, you know, it’s something that people just gravitate to as, as an interest. And then so like, you know, you have highlights, you have your, um, ESPN, whatever it may be where you get your sports information. I get it just like, you guys do.
Um, there might be some additional, um, information while there’s a mountain of information internally to the Cardinals about people. But at the end of the day, it’s just fine tuning. I mean, we all know that Otani is the best player, right? It’s, but, but it’s how much better is he than the next best guy on a very, and then how do you translate that, that ability and that talent into sort of a, uh, a money dollars and cents equation that becomes critical for how we determine, you know, what to pay a player or how to manage the roster and the payroll with limited resources.
So, um, I would say that I’m just like any fan. I get my information from the same sources. I watch games, I have fun watching them.
I’m a fan when they’re happening. And then when it comes down to making decisions, you kind of just, um, you work all that additional information to fine tune the decision-making, understanding the system of how MLB works and then, and then how an individual team works as well. And that’s really what I think is interesting to people when I have conversations with them is like, there’s that another level of understanding how decision-making occurs.
Um, and it’s hard to like, and that’s why these are fun, long form formats, which I enjoy because when you just read an article of, let’s say a sports writer bashing us for being cheap or this or that, it’s just such a lazy way of, um, of criticizing. Like we deserve criticism, but what, but when, when the writer in many situations, but when a writer just takes the easy way out and just says, you’re cheap, you stink. That’s it.
You just, it’s so blatantly obvious that they just haven’t on their homework. They don’t understand the decisions we’re facing, the budget limitations, and where, um, where the real challenges are in, in constructing rosters. And so when, when you do kind of open up the hood a little bit with people and bring them in and show them like, you know, not the proprietary player data, for example, but just the, the way in which you have to think long term versus short term, because we’re in it for the long term, but you also want to win, you know, this year.
Um, that’s when you really get, I think, interesting feedback from people. And the good thing about cardinal spans is they’re very informed. So for the most part, yes, there’s internet trolls and, you know, lazy armchair quarterbacking, but I think the majority of fans like kind of get it that we are in a economic system.
We only have so many resources. We’re doing our best to win next year, but also set ourselves up for future years. And that, that those, those sort of decisions require trade offs.
And when they understand those trade offs, typically their criticism when well informed is well taken. So you mentioned his name, so I’m going to bring it up, but Otani, so you think of that contract, what two million a year for 10 years and then 68 million from 11 through 20. So I look at it as the armchair quarterback is if that’s great.
And again, I don’t understand how it all works in baseball, but if he’s only going to get paid two million, I look at it and say, Oh, okay, that’s going to help me from the Dodgers sign more players for the next 10 years. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but now if I’m the Dodgers fan 11 years from now, and I saw it was 68 million, there’s basically $85 million as their payroll in 11 years from now with Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts and Otani. So I already know as a fan, if I was a Dodgers fan, $85 million in 11 years.
So how do you look at that, what you can or want to share as a business guy, I look at that and scratch my head and like, I don’t like that deal. Yeah. Look, what can you share about that? The way I think about that deal, and I don’t know if this is how the Dodgers are thinking about it because I’m not in their head, but if the way I look at it is it’s actually not deferring it.
Whatever their obligations are from year 11 and beyond, we’ll already have been thought through and dealt with in my view. What I would do if I were them is I would put whatever the present value number of that obligation is aside this year. So like if he’s getting, you know, 70 million or 68 million in year 11, what does that mean for this year? If you bring it back, it probably means something like 45 million.
I mean, just doing raw numbers. And so I would put cash in the bank at 45 million so that it generates the interest or return depending on how they process their their asset accounts and manage their money, which by the way, Gunga and that’s what they do. Yeah.
So I suspect that there’s probably something along those lines in there. And that’ll grow to pay the 69 or 68 number in that 11th year and do the same thing in year two and year three. So by the end of that 10th year, you really don’t have a liability or an obligation.
That’s how I would you would or treat it myself. Now if they’ve got some magic trick up their sleeve about, you know, some giant payday that they have coming in 11 years, I mean, who knows? Maybe there’s a TV or $3 billion that I don’t know about. Yeah, we’ll carve off 680 million.
So if you kind of look at it from a present value standpoint, it’s really like a, I don’t know, $450 million type of contract if they take those steps to play with the time value of money and the high interest rates don’t hurt right now for it. Right. And I think that was part of it.
Yeah. I’m sure that was the the angel that the agent probably wanted that seven handle in front of the number. And how are we going to get there? That’s too much.
We can’t afford that, but we can afford whatever for something. Okay. Well, you can get your seven handle and I can get my actual 400 something if we play this game and he gets the headline and we get the player.
Yeah. And I think too, one of these smart young men over here said something about, they heard that, and this is all here. So who knows, but do you think of it this way? Is it, oh, Tani now gets $2 million a year and with California tax that 11th year, he can move to wherever Florida and not pay taxes as much.
Right. There could be a tax play for him, which again, is one of those things that can help bridge a gap. Right.
If the tax play for the player makes the deal more valuable to him, okay, great. Yeah. You know, that’s one element that you factor in to try to reach agreement on a deal between the bid and the ask.
Yeah. So now switching back kind of the business and baseball since that’s your world, but your philosophy when you look at talent. So a lot of business leaders listen to this podcast.
So when they’re listening to it right now, what’s your philosophy when hiring and looking for talent? And I’m not talking like a baseball player. I mean, meaning like, you know, the business side. Yeah.
Well, we’re going through that right now with the, you know, one of our VP positions. And I would say that, you know, for us, it depends on the role, right? But you want somebody who’s an expert in the field. You want somebody who is hopefully passionate about the Cardinals and baseball, because I think that’s just like a really base element of what makes our organization, you know, exciting to work for is everybody’s pulling in the same direction.
They’re all Cardinal fans. We all celebrate when the team does well. And so having that element, I think it’s important.
I think that it doesn’t necessarily always need to be perfectly relevant baseball experience, obviously, depending on position. Like, for example, if we need a new CFO, for example, there will be probably 90% of what that person needs to bring to the table would be, you know, the education and the experience and the knowledge of what any CFO job would require. And then 10% would be probably really specific to the baseball industry.
And that’s what, you know, might lead to down the path of seeing if somebody already has, you know, that experience in the game or in another sport or something like that. Those are just a couple examples.
And this, he’s our CFO now, has done it for many, many years. He was back in the A.B. days as well. We tend to enjoy sort of a little bit of a good cop-bad, cop routine with our employees, you know? And that’s an example of where slightly different styles, I think, help and can work when you’re working with employees and budgeting and doing all that stuff.
Now, when you’re talking about, let’s say, a different aspect of the business, like, let’s say, game day entertainment, you know, running the show, putting on 81 days a year and concerts and things like that. Now, that’s somebody who you’re going to want to have that enthusiasm, that excitement that comes to work every day, and has a passion for seeing a smile on a fan’s face, who has a good knowledge of history and might have a good sense of humor. So I think it’s really, I think it’s role dependent in terms of those things I would look for in an important hire.
But the baseline, I guess, requirement for me is that they buy into the excitement and cardinal fan and rowing in that same direction, and too, that they’re going to thrive in sort of a family environment situation where expectations are high. But it’s not going to be like, you know, Machiavellian in the culture. Speaking of concerts, I went to the Lute Combs and the Morgan Wallen concert this year at Bush.
They were phenomenal. I’m always like, that’s a ton of work. Oh, yeah.
Yeah. Those are big deals for us because Billy Finlay over here, I’m sure he loves that. He’s, yeah, we need to get him off suicide watch when we add new concerts to the mix.
But now he does well, and he gets it, right? I mean, a concert will risk making the field look a little shoddy after the fact, which, you know, things his pride a little bit. But he totally gets it. So we appreciate his patience when we do those.
But you’re right, when 81 days a year, we pretty much kind of have our pattern down and our routine and our, it’s not that isn’t a ton of work. But when you do a concert, it’s really kind of different. You know, you have different graphics.
A whole new, sometimes Usher crew, you have the whole load-in and, you know, technology and production crew that sort of takes over the place. And that creates the need for a ton of collaboration between our special events group, who puts on these concerts for us, and manages the talent and the relationship with the company that’s putting on the concert and the talent’s crew, and our stadium operations team, who are, you know, there to help with all the logistics, all the operational challenges that something like that entails. I like it.
They rent that from here or there’s revenue share? You can have different economic arrangements. We’ve taken some, you can take more risk or less risk. I mean, a Cardinals or if you’re the at.
The Cardinals. Yeah. The act itself usually gets a guarantee.
And then the live nation or the, or the group that’s promoting and running the overall tour, that group will look to the team and the venue to either get a guaranteed rent, which is one number, or maybe the team wants to take a little bit of risk in the hopes of getting a bigger number, thereby reducing the risk of the promoter. Yes, reward. Daily habits for Bill, Dewitt, and the third.
If I were to follow you around, or Jeff over here, or is to follow you around that camera, what’s you going to see day in, day out that has no mishabits for you? Yeah. The thing that I’ve been doing for about six years now is a morning stretch routine that takes about only 15, 20 minutes. It’s really helped me.
And what it is, I just, I don’t, it’s something I commit to. I just, I got to do it. So I build in that 10 minutes.
Whether you want to, I’m in a rush. I’ll make it 10. If it’s lazy a little bit, I’ll make it 20.
And I feel like it just gets me moving, gets my body moving. It’s more of an activation thing to get out of bed. And then more recently, and I do, I still play hockey.
I still play men’s hockey. So I love that. I hope I can keep going.
Usually about twice a week with the Blues alumni. And that’s just like something I commit to. It’s an early skate.
So I’m back in the office by 9.30 and just love it. I’ve always been a hockey player. And then checking in these games? No checking.
Thank God. I still wouldn’t be doing it in any case. Occasionally you’ll have some incidental class or that.
But, and then I guess in the last few years, I’ve added sort of a lifting small cardio type of 30, 45 minutes is about three days a week. So I’ve found that that helps me keep up this lifestyle and routine that I have with other afflictions like golf and hockey. You tried, have you seen a golf forever training device? I haven’t.
No. Check it out, golfforever.com. I’m not getting paid to say that, but I like it. Because I’m aging.
It’s, one of those things is get a resistant band and some golf, the golf grips, and just different exercises you do to stay fit. But stay strong core for the golf game. Yeah, I’ll have to check that out.
Yeah. So I’m going to say two words. I’m anxious to see what comes to mind for you.
Game seven. Game seven. I thought you would have said game six.
Oh, sorry. Gosh, dang it. I even wrote down in my wrong, my notes.
You are speaking. You are right. That’s right.
That’s right. I have a game six and a game seven. How’s that? So game six was that crazy game in 2011.
And my story on that is very personal because it has to do with my son, Will. And of course, you know, you’re just a ball of tension on the morning of the World Series game when you’re in the management side of things. And you want it to go well, you know, and there’s all these logistics and MLB comes in and their whole team is here because it’s kind of their asset is the postseason.
But then your group has to put it on. It’s like this collaborative thing. And there’s a lot of work and you’re doing it sort of overtime stuff.
But you’re also just like when the game finally starts, you’re just like, please win. Well, game six was I was up in the suite. I was moving around a lot, but I ended up in the suite the second after the game.
My son was there. He was like, he was like nine or 10 at the time. And we had the Hall of Famers there and a bunch of people in and out of the suite and Lou Brock was staying kind of throughout the rest of the game.
And for some reason, like, we had a big moment middle of the game and Lou and my son like did a big high five and I was cute. And I was like, oh, that’s a cool memory. And then, you know, the game started to flip back and forth and, you know, the Rangers hit that home run and we’re just like, oh, so deflated.
And then my son started crying, especially after the extra inning home by Josh Hamilton. Because that was it. Like it was over after that.
We fought, we battled back and forth. We staved off elimination. And then it was like, okay, now we’re done.
And so we’ll start crying and Lou goes, well, come on. They’ve come back before. They’re going to do it again.
And you could tell Lou didn’t mean it. Come on. We just like this little kid crying.
Like you got a lift of spirits and Will was like, okay, thanks. Well, lo and behold, we did come back again. The freeze triple and then the freeze homer and the actual pure celebration of both of those two, you know, the 10 year old boy and the, you know, whatever he was, 75 year old, Lou Hall of Famers were equally as excited as excited in that moment.
And that like just for me was symbolized what it meant for everybody in Cardinals nation from a little kid to a Hall of Famers who had had those moments himself. I mean, he batted like 350 in the World Series, but yet he was a kid in that moment. And so then game seven comes around and I’ve never been so nervous watching something in my life because what happened the night before was so dramatic, was so outlandish.
And was so great for our fans. But you lose that game and it kind of becomes a footnote, history. Like you got a win game seven.
And for the first time in my 10 year as being part of the organization, they were like two or three moments where I literally couldn’t watch. I got up and I just started walking around the concourse. And because I was just so nervous, I just couldn’t handle it.
I can’t do this. Yeah, I just, I couldn’t do it. And anyway, that was short lived and we ended up winning that game and it was pretty surreal.
It was kind of dreamlike when you’re about to win a game seven and you want to celebrate and get super excited. But then all of a sudden this, this weight of like, oh shit, I got to be like on my game. Like I like, there’s this whole script that needs to play out.
And I need to be a part of that. Like, where am I, where’s my family going to go? Are they going to do I need to go tell the security guy to let them on the field? Or I got to, I’m going to do the celebration. Then we’ve got all these owner partners who might want to be part of it.
And I got to like, just, you know, there’s a, there’s an on field thing where the commissioner’s up there handing the trophy. Who’s going to be on the stage? I got to get my dad, where he was in downstairs. I was up there like Mo.
Where is he? He was in the press. It was like all of a sudden, like I was able to enjoy it for about five minutes. And then I just sort of had to get my game face on and pause the celebration.
And then like, finally, I think we did all that on field stuff and, and photos and all this crazy stuff. And then I was able to like, when all the media died down in the champagne and all that, I was, I was finally like, did this big exhale, had a beer and I was just like, oh my God, this is great. It’s the greatest beer ever.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just a great beer. Yeah, because you think, I mean, it’s not like a direct route from the suite down to the, you know, the dugout and all that stuff, right? So you got to get through the people for a little bit or maybe get the elevator, I guess.
Yeah, yeah, it just, it was a logistical thing in your head just spinning on who’s, who do you have to coordinate what’s up and, but that’s, those are great problems to have. Great problem. If we want more of those problems, the nice thing is, so my wife and I were married October 27, 2001.
You guys won it in 2006 on our five year anniversary and on October 27. And then game six was October, and it was supposed to be game seven, right? But there was a rain out, right? And it pushed everything back. Which helped us.
It did get a little pitching for game seven. So October 26 games, game six, we were there for that when my dad and her dad and then we’re back the next night. So that was a long couple days.
It was, you know, these long playoff runs in October, I’m really hoping to have one again soon. Yeah, they’re, they can be a beat up on fans too. Oh, yeah.
Because, you know, it’s tough on the liver. Well, it can’t be that too. And so that’s, that’s why they don’t happen every year, I guess.
But when they do you, it’s so worth it. When you look back at, of all the memories of the St. Louis Cardinals, what, what’s some of your biggest memories? I mean, obviously what you just shared. But any other memories that you’d want to share that you think are important to you or important to your family? Yeah, I mean, I would say that the, the 06 win was so unexpected as well.
We had been knocking on the door for a long period of time. We’d incredible teams. Like the 2014 was so special on 105 teams, I think.
And, you know, got swept in Boston, which was very disappointing. And to have such a great season end on such a down note was like, God, are we ever going to break through? You know, we, we had the best team. Yeah.
And what happened in 06, and then 05 was, was a good year, but then 06 happens and we’re not the only three wins season. Yeah, yeah, 83 wins. We had 83 wins.
Yeah. But what happened is, we had all these injuries and, and then, but what would happen is in, is in September, you realized, like, when we were in the end of the season, these guys came back from injury, we’ve got this 04 team on the field right now. They’re fresh.
Edmonds was back healthy. Poo Holes, Roland, I mean, and they were fresh. And they, um, Carpenter was back healthy, you know.
Weino was closing out games as a rookie or maybe had had a cup of coffee or whatever. But Izzy was hurt. So that was like a problem.
But here comes Weino. Who is this guy? So that was like, not just great because they defied expectations and ran the table in October. But I feel like it was the culmination of having knocked on the door many, many times for that with even better teams that didn’t quite get it done in October.
And so it felt almost like a relief to see my dad finally hold that trophy after really a lifetime of aspiring to that. That was what was special to me. Yeah, that was how were you and your dad feeling in New York when it’s game seven and Cardinal killer Carlos Beltran’s up to bat with two men on.
I was about to puke. Honestly, I really couldn’t. And there was no look in a way.
You were right there and I was right there. And I was just like, I just wanted to crawl into a hole. Like I was just like, God, no, please, you know, just something good happened.
And, uh, and Uncle Charlie was born. Oh man. That was, that was a moment.
That was incredible. Let’s talk about gambling. That’s always a fun topic, isn’t it? So State of Missouri does not have gambling.
How does that play into for the St. Louis Cardinals? Your guys’ thoughts on that? It’s obviously getting big whether we like it or don’t like it. It’s getting big in the world we live in today. So how is that going to play out if this assumes Missouri gets it? How’s that going to play out for you guys? Well, we’ve been very active in trying to get it legalized.
And the reason is, well, I’ll give you two reasons. One with my Cardinal hat on and one with my Missouri citizen hat. I’ll start with a Missouri citizen.
So we have it. It’s legal in all of our surrounding states. Okay.
So people are driving across the borders and across those rivers on either side Casey and St. Louis and they’re placing bats legally in these other states. So it’s happening. Okay.
Not unlike the marijuana issue where it’s happening illegally and unregulated and no tax revenue. Why don’t we legalize it, control it, regulate it, and collect the tax revenues. And decriminalize.
Similar to this sports betting is it’s happening. And when people do it in Missouri, who knows who they’re placing bats with on it. I mean, it’s like rushing offshore accounts and God knows what, right? It’s unregulated and unenforced because of the lack of stigma anymore.
It’s everywhere else. Nobody’s going to go crack down hard on somebody’s online bookie in Missouri. It’s not happening.
So that tax revenues literally just were forgoing it in Missouri. So all these renegade offshore, whoever can collect it. And so from that standpoint, I think it’s silly that we’re not taxing, regulating it and legalizing it.
From a cardinal standpoint, and we’ve been very active in pulling together all the pro sports team in Missouri to be on the same page to lobby for this, it benefits us in a couple ways. The first way is that we think it opens up our sports fan interest to a younger audience, a younger demo. It creates a different kind of engagement and pretty intense engagement.
When you put a hundred bucks on a game, you’re dialed in, right? Or if you’re on some sort of trifecta or whatever and you’ve got this player and that player, you’re watching that game and then you’re flipping over to the other game to see how your guy’s doing. Like, you know, and there’s an element of that that is fun. I mean, let’s face it.
It can be problematic. Obviously, people can get addicted to this. And that’s why in our lobbying, we want to make sure that there’s a robust fun for problem gaming.
Obviously. But we think that it creates this engagement from the younger demo, particularly in light of our previous conversation about how viewing habits have changed and how it might be hard for the intergeneration to sit down and watch a 3R game online or whatever. This creates that excitement and that factor that I think creates interest in our sport.
The second thing that I think is in it for the Cardinals, and I’ve been pretty transparent about this because I don’t think we should be, you know, hiding our interests because we’re out there lobbying. It’s a taxpayer decision. So is that it opens up a huge sponsorship category for us.
So when it’s legal, the sports betting operators are going to want to reach our fans, right? And how they’re going to reach our fans? Well, they’re going to come to us and say, Hey, I need a sign on the outfield wall. I’d like to be on your radio broadcasts. I’d like to be the official online partner of the Cardinals.
Okay. Well, that opens up a real nice revenue stream for us that our competition is already getting. Right.
Okay. So, you know, for those who are on the side of spend more guys, we got to keep up with the Joneses. Well, there’s a way for that to happen.
Yeah. I mean, look with our friends at North, the white and blue team. I don’t want to mention.
Absolutely. And they got that thing in the outfield that I understand is they’re going to share revenue, right? On the gambling and the food and the food. They’re, they’re gaming revenue.
And I’m sort of guessing because I don’t see their books. Sure. But it’s probably in the 15 to 25 range.
That’s a star player. It’s a star player. It’s a star player.
Okay. So let’s not hide from that reality. That’s part of what it is.
And as you know, we pretty much the money is on the field. And to the extent we can drive additional revenue, you know, it’s going to go into payroll. And so that’s what is also in it for the Cardinals.
And then I would say sort of the final thing is just, you know, having something perhaps in ballpark village that would be an interesting and exciting. New aspect of it, you know, perhaps like a sports book type of thing, which I think could inject some, some energy down there in those slower times. Yeah.
What are we going to do to fix downtown? Well, you know, we’re doing our best. You know, we’re continuing to invest in ballpark village. We had a really good retail leasing year this year with some new big tenants that came in like Katie’s pizza.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s exciting. We, we’d like to do another phase.
The residential tower has done very well. I think we could do another one. The challenge there is that if we just wanted to build the exact same building today, it would cost about 30% more.
And interest rates would be instead of 4%, they’re going to be six plus, right, or more on something like that. So you have two things working against you to try to replicate what we’ve done there, which has been great. Having said that, you know, there might be a couple of tweaks that we could work with the city and the state on with our infrastructure subsidy package that has basically helped prep the sites for these things on ballpark village.
That would get us to the finish line on on additional phase, phase three. So, you know, I’m remaining cautiously optimistic that we can keep pushing and, you know, we’re not going anywhere. We’re, you can’t pick up a stadium and a ballpark village and move a declarant like some people do with their businesses.
And then I remain very active on a bunch of different things downtown, like with the police foundation and with our community improvement district and with the other business leaders who are, you know, the steeples and the blues and the soccer and the march and the law firms and the investment firms who are downtown to make sure that we do everything we can to supplement what the city can do and what the police can do to make things safer. So we have a lot of things going on that and very active to try to make sure that people feel safe coming down there. And I think we are in a better place than we were a couple years ago.
No question about it. We just need for the traffic and the activity to return. And hopefully people hearing this will realize that that it really comes down to them.
I mean, what makes, what’s going to make downtown work is, is volume and traffic and interest in events and people coming down and come down to Katie’s Pizza and have your date night down there instead of out and wherever. Yep. Because it makes a difference.
Yeah. And I really try to be on my soapbox about that because you’ve got to have a little bit of sense of pride, I think, to make that commitment. If your patterns are just to be, you know, stay in your own little zone and we’re here Metro East, which is great.
You could probably, you know, live your whole life right around a five mile radius right here. And the same thing out West. Let’s all commit to adding downtown is something that’s important to the region.
That’s right. Well, we did our Christmas party at the Hall of Fame Museum this year. Oh, cool.
It was phenomenal. It was so cool. It was a great spot.
So for those listening you to place, he’s not paying me to say that. Go there. Last question for you.
I think it’s a cool story. It may be hopefully it’s my last question. Eddie Goodell, wearing your dad’s uniform.
Tell that story. It’s so funny because growing up, we didn’t really realize that this story would sort of come back around in terms of what, you know, we ended up doing with baseball. But when my dad was a kid, his dad was the general manager of the St. Louis Browns.
He’d worked his way up. He came into the league as an assistant to branch Ricky. He would just run errands for him.
And he’s, and Mr. Ricky really liked what he did. And so he kind of mentored him in his baseball career. And he got all the way to become general manager of the Browns.
And of course Bill Vek was the owner at that time and had this crazy idea. Well, if we get somebody short enough, you know, the pitcher, the strike zone definition would make it impossible. We’ll get four balls all day long and get an automatic block.
And so on the second day of a double header, or the second game of double header, Vek brings out Goodell and he hides him in this giant birthday cake. And he pops out of this thing. And I mean, the guy was a really, he had all these zany ideas and he went through with them all.
That’s what was crazy about it. And of course the Browns were always losing. And he had a little more latitude with that than if say he was with the Yankees or something.
But so he had everything figured out. He had a contract for him because he knew the amps would check on that. He had, you know, had prepped the manager and he had the lineup card line made out with 1-8.
You know, so he had a few people that knew about this. But kind of at the last minute, he’s like, oh God, I forgot about the uniform because we’re not going to have one that fits. And then he realized that my grandfather used to order extra uniforms for my dad and his two sisters, little mini versions.
Because in those days, you didn’t have a team store that had authentic uniforms in different sizes. It was what the players wore and that was it. And then, you know, you might have a t-shirt or a hat in the store, but that was about it.
So they said, hey, Billy, my dad, we need your uniform. He used to go out and play pepper with the players back then and shag balls during batting practice. He’s like, okay, so they grabbed it off him.
They took off his number six, which was his favorite number. Because Stan was his favorite player, I think, although that was pre-Stan, no. So he evolved into that being his favorite number and put on 1-8.
And then that was the uniform that Eddie used in his one at bat. Walked on four pitches and kind of the rest is history, that great picture of him, you know, taking the ball. And he had this little mini bat.
And my dad remembers it was like kind of a weird situation where there was like commotion or whatever. And there was that little toy bat. And he think he remembers seeing that because it was so unusual to see a player batting with such a mini bat.
And then he got the uniform back. It really didn’t think anything of it. My aunt Dee Dee, who was smaller in stature, used to wear it for Halloween.
She would go out to Halloween parties in this uniform and tell the story and people got a kick out of that. And then kind of as memorabilia started becoming a big thing. And finally somebody said, hey, where’s that uniform? And we said, well, we still have it.
It’s in my parents’ attic and mothballs. And we were like, oh, maybe this thing is worth a lot. And we ended up loaning it.
He ended up loaning it to the Hall of Fame where they used it for the VEC exhibit when he got into the Hall of Fame. They had that for many years. And now it’s in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Who saw it the other night? Yeah. It’s a great story. So awesome.
I said it was my last question. But can we talk 2024 at all? Sure. Any thoughts, any words you have for our listeners right now? I’m not going to name anybody’s names.
We’re on our wish list. But what can you tell us about the St. Louis Cardinals for 2024? Well, I think there’s a lot of optimism because we have a really good everyday club. And anchored by, you know, obviously Goldie and Arunato at the Corners.
We have some up and coming players like Jordan Walker and Edmond and Maize and Win could really be dynamited short. And so I think it’s a nice mix. If the improvement is there on these younger players that you would expect because they’re on their way up.
And if Goldie and Arunato can keep doing what they’re doing, our everyday club should be fine. It should be actually really good. Play-off caliber.
On the pitching front, you know, when you look at last year, there were a ton of like, for example, in the first half, a ton of blown saves. And the bullpen, even though on paper, you know, pretty good, it was fine. I mean, we ended up getting a lot of value for some of these guys that we traded at the deadline.
But they weren’t having great years. And there were these moments in time they were like, really, that just really happened. I don’t think that’s going to repeat.
I think we’ll do better. I think we’ll save games better next year. We have three guys now that we acquired this offseason in Lancelin, our old friend.
Kyle Gibson and of course our headliner, Sonny Gray. All these guys are going to give you a lot of innings. And partly what stressed out the bullpen and caused some of these collapses last year was these, our starters weren’t going very deep.
So even if you get, let’s say, somebody to go seven and give up four runs, that’s really giving you a chance to win a team.