Talk of the Towns: 4.6.22
downtown | City Museum is kicking off several unique spring activities starting this weekend, one for kids, another for older visitors and a third for anyone who’s ever craned their neck to look up at the 100-year-old warehouse from the street, spied a school bus, jet plane, hippo and praying mantis looming overhead and asked themselves, “What’s all this, then?” It’s the enormous, and certifiably odd, brainchild of the late Bob Cassilly. Always evolving and always a touch mysterious, the museum is offering guided tours for the first time this spring. Explore the artsy warehouse and learn about the lives and materials that helped shape one of the most eccentric museums in the world. After-hours group tours also are available on request. Visit citymuseum.org/tours. This Saturday, April 9, Central Print, a nonprofit that supports the art of letterpress printmaking, comes to City Museum from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. for a workshop. Guests can design their own posters and use the printing press and repurposed paper to create artwork using printing blocks from the museum inventory. The activity is free with general admission. Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, the museum welcomes all pirates (and wannabe pirates) to find a treasure trove of golden eggs hidden throughout the building. Follow the treasure map to hunt for prizes that include candy, toys and general admission tickets for a return visit! The treasure hunt takes place from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, and is free with admission. A seasonal, springtime bunny photo op adds even more fun both days.
Charlie Brennan, who years ago had a regular column in this very publication called “Charlie’s Town,” is leaving KMOX after nearly 34 years of doing a regular morning show. Although he’s turning off his mic in May, he’s still planning to stay involved with Donnybrook, the lively, long-running debate-style political commentary show on KETC-TV, Channel 9. Was it really that long ago that Brennan moved here from Boston and hung his hat for the first time in the StL? Um, yep; it was in 1988. Jeepers. But that’s not quite as astonishing to this writer, who’s been over the hill for more than a few years and continues to pick up speed on his way down the other side. As another item from the broadcast media world, Bob Costas, the preternaturally youthful sportscaster, has turned not 30, 40, 50 or even 60… but 70 years old! A picture of Costas from back in the day as a KMOX personality shows him in a very bold, plaid sport coat that kind of reminds me of the upholstery in somebody’s 1972 Ford Pinto. Anyhow, the young feller hopes to do fewer events as time goes on, save his appearances on CNN and his periodic in-depth HBO show that takes a different look at the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. A tip of the hat to Brennan and Costas—and this issue’s star of ‘Notable Neighbors,’ Ron Jacober—for doing the Gateway City proud on the air.
Another place to play golf, without actually playing golf, is expected to arrive in the StL by the fall. There are plenty of places to wait for the really efficient golfers behind you to ‘play through’ besides Forest Park and country clubs. We already have dozens of miniature golf courses—and one, or maybe it’s already two, TopGolf locations in the metro. To the unschooled eye (and rabid imagination), the TopGolf in Chesterfield Valley is kind of like a bowling alley on stilts. It’s fun, they say. Well, they do serve food and have a liquor license, so there is that. I seem to recall that bowling can become wildly hilarious after a few beers, so why not golf—without having to worry about driving your cart into a water hazard. Here it is, folks: the X-Golf Indoor Golf Simulator will simulate golf inside the former Pier 1 Imports space at 15382 Manchester Road inside the Ellisville Plaza shopping center. No word on whether you actually get to hit a ball, but if you’re a duffer like I am, you could have one teed up and manage to miss it. More than once, even. All the more reason to decamp to the full-service restaurant and bar and lie about your golf prowess. The place will occupy more than 8,500 square feet, which seems like plenty of acreage to find your ball, be it real or simulated. There are now 50 locations of California-based X-Golf in operation, with plans to open 50 more. The company touts its golf simulator as “the most comprehensive indoor golf tracking system available,” using cameras and spin rates. It measures ball speed, launch and direction as well as club trajectory, impact and velocity, performing some 6,000 calculations per second. Well, that’s a whole heck of a lot more calculations per second than many golfers who love playing the real game would ever need. Try this: Swing. I hit it! Great! Um, where’d it go? OMG, it’s in the hole! (That was a simulation, of course.)
There is joy in Mudville, after all! The home opener for the St. Louis Cardinals is Thursday, April 7, and the only people who’ll be required to wear a mask are the catchers and home-plate umpire. The MLB season, at this point, is slated for a full 162 games—with the players’ strike averted at the last minute. Whew. And an icon, Albert Pujols, will again be wearing his No. 5 Redbirds uniform. No way! Yes, way. Might he have a World Series anything like his starring role in 2011? Well, we’re getting just a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s look back at the Cardinals’ amazing 1964 season, which culminated in a triumph in seven games over the N.Y. Yankees. Veteran KMOX broadcaster Ron Jacober has rolled that analog clock back 58 years practically to ancient StL history and written ’64 Cardinals: A Team, a Season, and a Showdown for the Ages with crack baseball statistician Robert Tiemann. “It may have been more significant for what happened behind the scenes than on the field,” says Jacober, now 82, in a voice familiar over the AM radio airwaves to innumerable St. Louisans, metro residents and beyond. August Anheuser Busch Jr.—Gussie, to admirers and detractors—was in the executive suite. The brewery magnate, who’d purchased the struggling team in 1953, would own the club until his death in 1975. Late in the 1964 season, however, they were 11 games back, with 39 to play. “Gussie understood failure, but he didn’t know much about baseball,” notes Jacober. Of course, he knew how to throw money around. Nevertheless, he failed to snag future Hall-of-Fame players like Willie Mays or Ernie Banks. Gussie wined and dined feisty itinerant manager Leo Durocher at Grant’s Farm; Durocher went on to helm the Chicago Cubs. Although he’d failed to procure Cubs star Banks for the Cards, a struggling outfielder from the Windy City did come aboard: Lou Brock. “The Cubs wanted him to be a power hitter, but he just wanted to run,” says Jacober. And hit and run he did in 1964. “Brock was the catalyst.” With him in 1964 were Redbirds royalty, some rendered in bronze outside ‘Busch III:’ Bob Gibson pitched and won two hard-fought games in the series. Key to the book is the Civil Rights struggle, discrimination still was rampant in baseball. Black players, among them Brock, Gibson, Curt Flood and first-baseman Bill White had to find different lodging in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team trained. White’s frustration spilled over, and his comment was widely reported: “When are you going to treat us like humans?” Gussie seized the hospitality opportunity by building a hotel; locals were amazed to see Blacks integrating the swimming pool. “They barbecued together,” says Jacober, whose task for this, his second volume with Tiemann, was to interview key players. (Immortal Moments in Cardinals History was the duo’s first.) Jacober stumbled into his rewarding broadcast career; while with AAA of Missouri, he took a one-hour broadcasting class “on a lark.” He was working part-time at WIV in Belleville when KMOX topper Bob Hardy was listening and picked up the phone. “It was like getting a call from God!” quips Jacober, who parlayed a part-time gig at The Voice of St. Louis into a broadcast career of more than four decades in radio and at Channel 5, KSDK-TV. Jacober and Tiemann will sign books at 6 p.m. on April 26, at the Schlafly Branch of St. Louis Public Library. Visit reedypress.com.