How Many Strikes Does McLaughlin Get


Dan McLaughlin, former broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals, was hired as the play-by-play announcer in 2000. In his first few years as a broadcaster, McLaughlin became highly respected in the organization and had a rapidly growing fanbase. This abruptly changed in 2010 when McLaughlin was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), and his popularity declined even further in 2011 after he was charged with a second DWI. McLaughlin was immediately fired from KMOX and FSMW, but due to his status in the community, he regained the role a few months later after attending rehab.
“This is as last-chance as it gets, absolutely,” McLaughlin said.
Over the next ten years, McLaughlin stayed away from DWIs, even successfully embarking on a weight loss journey.
Unfortunately, on December 5th, 2022, McLaughlin was arrested a third time for a DWI. The reports from the Creve Coeur police stated he “had slurred speech, glassy eyes, intoxicants on his breath and performed poorly on a field sobriety test.” He drove in an “S Pattern on Ladue Road, sometimes into traffic,” one witness reported.
McLaughlin commented on the matter the following day, saying that he would make no excuses and that he was deeply remorseful. McLaughlin also asked for the privacy of his family and himself, adding that he is “dealing with it and is seeking treatment”.
The news of McLaughlin’s third DWI was extremely disheartening for St. Louis as a whole and left many in doubt of his legacy.
David Aiello is a teacher at Clayton High School, coach of the CHS baseball team, and a longtime Cardinals’ supporter.
“People have started to learn that drug addiction and alcohol addiction are not just poor choices… It’s a very powerful disease… There’s a heck of a lot more to it than will power,” Aiello said.
The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes alcoholism as a disease, and some experts estimate that 20-30% of alcoholism cases can be attributed to mental illness.
McLaughlin has consistently taken responsibility for his issues with alcohol. After being charged with his second DWI in 2011, McLaughlin viewed it as a wakeup call, saying to Dan Caesar of the Post Dispatch, “it has turned out to be one of the best things that ever could have happened to me because I realized I needed to seek help.”
“The fact that [McLaughlin] went another 10 years without a DWI says that he made a lot of progress through that time period… He has the ability to make dramatic changes in his lifestyle,” Aiello said.
Prior to his most recent charge, fans were hopeful that McLaughlin was successfully dealing with his disease, especially considering the length between his last two DWIs. However, now that this time frame has passed, McLaughlin’s future with the Cardinals is in question.
McLaughlin’s absence from the Cardinals raises an opportunity for another broadcaster to step up and take his place.
“[The Cardinals] have one of the best histories of developing major broadcasters. Hopefully this will be a chance for somebody new to step into that role,” Aiello said.
The St. Louis Cardinals are an organization with a history of great broadcasters. All time past announcers including Jack Buck, Joe Buck and Harry Caray shaped the culture of baseball as a whole, especially in St. Louis.
The Cardinals organization has experienced issues with addiction and DWIs with multiple people. Tony La Russa was the St. Louis Cardinals former manager, winning two World Series Championships with them. However, in 2007, La Russa was charged with a DWI after being found asleep at a stoplight in Florida. Fortunately, no one was injured, but La Russa was embarrassed and remorseful, immediately taking responsibility for his actions.
Only months later, Josh Hancock, former Cardinals pitcher, tragically passed away after driving while intoxicated on the highway. Hancock was only 29 years old, and police said at the time of the accident, Hancock’s blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. Police also found marijuana in Hancock’s rented car. Fortunately, no one else was hurt in the accident, and as a result of this tragedy, the Cardinals vastly changed their policy regarding alcohol tolerance.
“The Cardinals are probably a little bit more sensitive to this than a lot of organizations because Josh Hancock died in a drunk driving accident… They’re known as a pretty conservative organization,” Aiello said.
It is extremely difficult to compare McLaughlin’s current situation to those of other sports players, coaches, broadcasters and celebrities when taking into account how societal attitudes around driving while intoxicated have changed.
Specifically in the NFL, reactions to a DWI now are significantly different than they were 20 years ago.
Leonard Little played on the St. Louis Rams from his rookie season 1998 to his last game in the NFL in 2010. In his first year with the Rams, Little was charged with manslaughter after getting drunk at his birthday party and killing a woman in a car accident later that night. Little did not play the rest of the ’98 season and was suspended for the first eight games of the ’99. He also received a sentence of 90 nights in jail and 1,000 hours of community service.
Recently, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver, Henry Ruggs, was in a drunk driving accident where he killed a 23 year old woman and her dog. He was also charged with carrying a firearm while under the influence. The Raiders released Ruggs almost immediately, and he may face up to 46 years if convicted of all charges.
These two cases are not so different from each other, but Little was able to play football again a year later while Ruggs could face major jail time.
“St. Louis has a forgiving behavior and attitude towards their sports personalities,” Aiello said. “It’s more important to help [McLaughlin] get treatment.”
McLaughlin viewed his first two DWIs as wake up calls and became heavily involved in helping the St. Louis community. As a result of spearheading a golf tournament, McLaughlin has raised millions of dollars for children with disabilities. He insisted that every dollar go to the Special Education Foundation, which disperses the money to families who apply for assistance.
There are differing opinions of what the response will be over McLaughlin’s future as a Cardinals broadcaster. Despite his altruism, if the Cardinals decide to allow McLaughlin to return, they could be faced with backlash from many St. Louisans. Nonetheless, Aiello has his own prediction: “Overwhelmingly, the St. Louis baseball community will allow McLaughlin some time and will welcome him back at some point in the future,” Aiello said.