The wait continues for the formal announcement of the new Cardinals’ television announcer as sources say that the final steps toward introducing Chip Caray are taking place, though the parties involved are silent publicly.
But another prime contender for the job to replace Dan McLaughlin, who left the Bally Sports Midwest booth by “mutual decision” last month after facing drunken driving charges for the third time, has a poignant story to tell.
Aaron Goldsmith, who grew up in St. Louis and has much big-league broadcasting experience, was firmly in the running for the position — perhaps even the leading candidate — before withdrawing his name from consideration last weekend.
Goldsmith has been broadcasting Seattle Mariners games for the last decade and is entrenched there. He and his wife have three children ages younger than 9, and those ties heavily contributed to his decision to pull out.
“I imagine anyone with a family can relate to trying to balance career goals and family life,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “That gets amplified further when contemplating uprooting your family to essentially start over halfway across the country. In one of my early conversations with a Bally executive, I made clear that while I was absolutely interested in the job, I was also very happy where I was — both professionally and personally. I knew it would take a lot for us to move, but I also knew that becoming the TV voice of the St. Louis Cardinals was, to me, the most attractive job this business can offer.”
Goldsmith said the job in St. Louis would have been more lucrative for him than what he has, but there is more to life than that.
“I knew that I could not take a job, Cardinals or otherwise, based on money or ego,” he told Seattle Times sports columnist Larry Stone. “When I thought about talking to my kids about this years down the road when they’re old enough to understand life a little bit, if they were to ask me, ‘Dad, why did we move from Seattle to St. Louis?’ I would have to tell them, ‘So that Dad could be more famous and make more money.’ And we all know that those are both terrible reasons.”
Goldsmith, had he been hired, would have been the No. 1 announcer for Cardinals telecasts — an elevated position from what he has in Seattle, where he works in secondary roles on radio and television.
He told the Post-Dispatch that being the lead broadcaster was “a huge lure. Of the biggest kind, actually, given it would be for the St. Louis Cardinals. Even if you’re already a No. 1 TV broadcaster elsewhere, this job is incredibly attractive. Additionally, there are really good people involved. On the business side, in the production truck, and in the booth. Me removing my name from consideration wasn’t because of something that this opportunity lacked. It was ultimately because of what I feel I already have.
“Everyone wants to be recognized. And everyone wants to be paid well. Me included. But I promised myself, even before this opportunity, that those couldn’t be my North Star. Truthfully, this conviction was put to the test in this process. The Cardinals job would’ve provided me with more of both. And it was a temptation I had to fight. It wasn’t easy.”
Goldsmith, 39, moved to St. Louis from Kansas City when he was in seventh grade and became a big Redbirds fan. One of his first jobs in broadcasting, in 2007, was calling games of the Gateway Grizzlies, a low-level independent baseball team based in Sauget. He made $70 — per month, not game. Another time when he was struggling, he found a dog-walking job in the Central West End, primarily for pets of doctors and lawyers. It paid $8.50 per half-hour walk.
“All my formative years were in St. Louis,” he said.
He has said that he bought the first hot dog at the new Busch Stadium, filmed the purchase and sold the frankfurter on eBay for $300. The Goldsmith-Cardinals bond is strong.
“I can remember being in college when they sold seats from the old Busch Stadium. I was so afraid that the sale would be baseball’s version of Black Friday that I logged onto the website over an hour before they actually launched the sale. (By the way, let me tell you, not even three kids can test a marriage like a pair of old Busch Stadium seats.) When I bought those seats, the idea of becoming the TV voice of the Cardinals seemed about as realistic as flying to the moon. Even though things didn’t ultimately work out, I guess it does go to show that just about anything is possible.”
He said his St. Louis background made it a must to interview for the job when he got the call to inquire about his interest, even though he was very happy in Seattle.
“The timeframe to measure how often the Cardinals job becomes available isn’t measured in years, but in decades,” he said. “I had to pursue it. It’s too special of a job.”
But he says he has a special place in Seattle, too.
“Through this process, I see clearer than ever that I feel an incredibly strong connection to my current team and the city where I work. It’s really developed naturally since arriving here 10 years ago. Simply put, Seattle feels like home. It’s a feeling that, yes, I think it would be possible to replicate elsewhere, but it’s also a feeling that I don’t take for granted. I’ve discovered that what I have in Seattle, for both my family and my career, feels perfect. Ultimately, what’s more perfect than perfect?”
There was a social media groundswell of support in Seattle for Goldsmith when his candidacy in St. Louis became public, with Mariners fans posting many glowing comments about his work. It was quite the opposite of the usual nastiness of discourse on those platforms.
“I still can’t quite process it all,” he said. “I never, ever could have imagined in my wildest dreams the amount of support on social media to remain in Seattle. When you get in this business, you hope you can make a personal connection with the fans. You want to be part of their lives. It’s a hard business to thrive in when you’re not liked. Needless to say, it was very emotional for me to receive such love and support from the Mariners’ fan base. They mean a lot to me. I’m thankful I mean a lot to them.”
Goldsmith’s contract in Seattle is with the team, not any broadcast outlet. In St. Louis, the radio announcers work for the club, but the TV broadcasters are paid by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns numerous regional sports networks across the country and is in financial distress.
Goldsmith’s deal with the Mariners expired after last season, and although he had agreed with the club to return, a contract had not been signed when St. Louis came calling. He said he had the blessing of the Mariners to investigate the Cards position but did not want to keep them hanging. He re-signed Monday, two days after taking himself out of the running in St. Louis. He is giving up his moonlighting duties of broadcasting baseball games for FOX — he did several Cardinals games over the years — to become even more involved in Seattle.
Still, it was extremely tough for Goldsmith to withdraw as a candidate in a city in which he has deep roots.
“I hope I never have to make a decision this hard again for the rest of my career,” he said. “I stared at my phone for 30 minutes before making the call to remove my name. I had moments of instant regret, thinking I had just torpedoed my own career. But in my heart, I knew I did the right thing. I now feel a great sense of peace. And as a Cardinals fan from afar, I’m really excited to watch and listen to Chip Caray. He’s incredibly talented and is the perfect addition to the booth.”
Dan Caesar • 314-340-8175
@caesardan on Twitter