Former Rockies broadcaster Wayne Hagin let go by Cardinals
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals released Wayne Hagin as broadcaster on Friday and hired the man they wanted all along -- John Rooney, who spent 18 years broadcasting the Chicago White Sox, the club said Friday.
Hagin was let go after only three seasons with the club. He was picked up in 2003 to replace the late, legendary Cardinals broadcaster, Jack Buck.
Rooney, a native of Richmond, Mo., was part of the Minnesota Twins' broadcasting team in 1987.
Rooney will work with Mike Shannon, who will be back for his 35th season on the air.
"We were pleased with Wayne Hagin's work," general manager Mark Lamping told The Associated Press. "He did everything he was asked by the ball club to do, and he was very involved in the community.
"But we felt our broadcast quality would be even higher if we teamed John Rooney with Mike Shannon."
Lamping said the decision "was brought about simply by the fact that John Rooney became available."
Hagin, through a Cardinals spokeswoman, declined to comment.
The club announced three months ago that it is moving its radio broadcasts from KMOX, where they have been for the last 51 seasons, to KTRS.
Rooney was the first choice for the job after Buck's death, but he was under contract with the White Sox, and the search turned elsewhere. The job went to Hagin, who had been with the Colorado Rockies.
Rooney ended up without a job in Chicago after the White Sox won the World Series last month. The White Sox also are switching flagship radio stations.
Lamping said once the Cardinals confirmed Rooney was leaving the White Sox, they decided they "better do something and do it fast.
"What we had to do was release Wayne, even though he had another year in his contract. ... I don't like the word 'fire,' because it has undertones of poor performance," Lamping said. "Wayne is a great announcer. We happen to believe John Rooney is even greater."
Lamping said the Cardinals would honor the last year of Hagin's contract.
Rooney, 50, did television play by play for the White Sox in 1988, then switched to radio announcing for the team for 17 years.
He called his first major league game in 1983 with Shannon and Buck during a three-game series between the Cardinals and host Cincinnati Reds. At the time, he was the play-by-play voice of the Cardinals Triple A affiliate Louisville Redbirds.
Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Rooney was a "dear friend" of his father and "everything you'd want" as an announcer.
"That being said, I thought Wayne did a great job and I thought he did a great job in a tough situation, taking over for my dad," Buck said. "I don't think Wayne could have done a better job. I feel bad that didn't work out."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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