(KMOV.com) – At the spot of what is now Ballpark Village, Busch Stadium II stood tall and round during the 1980s and KMOV was there covering the new Redbird Dynasty and the departure of the football Cardinals while an indoor soccer team made an impression on the city.
In 1980, Channel 4’s Tim Van Galder, or TVG, reported on the Cardinals signing former Chicago Cubs reliever Bruce Sutter, who was traded for Leon Durham and Kenny “Zamboni” Reitz. TVG was shocked at the enormous money Sutter was set to make.
“Relief specialist Bruce Sutter and the baseball Cards agreed to a new 4-year contract,” TVG reported, “money terms never announce, but would you believe $1 million for each of those four years? So when Sutter pitches to Darrel Porter next season, that’s a cool $1.8 million just for those two, sure hope those two have good years.”
Yet, just two years later, Sutter helped bring St. Louis a World Championship and Cards fans partied all night and into the following day. Channel 4 carried the victory parade live, sponsored by Ozark Airlines and Kroger’s.
TVG and Channel 4 anchor, Debbie Faubian, over looked the sea of fans.
“I don’t think some of these folks went home last night after the game,” they remarked, “Oops, down in the midst of the Clydesdales. Behind them Whitey Herzog and Gussie Busch, barely get through there.”
It was a wild scene, but TVG said he doesn’t remember much about it.
“I saw that tape and it’s, well 32 years ago, and I don’t want to say I’m getting a little senile but think of it this way. I’m 80 feet in the air on a crane with a beautiful woman overlooking thousands of people - why would I remember something like that?” he said, “But I’ve got to be honest - I don’t. I don’t remember doing it.”
At one point, TVG went from broadcaster to cheerleader as he got the crowd going.
“Well, that was, and the one thing Betesta told me, ‘You don’t make the news, you report it.’ And that was a giant faux pas,” he said, “I’m not supposed to do that, but when you showed me that tape that was kind of neat.”
For the ‘other Cardinals,’ they went out with a bang before team owner Bill Bidwell made good on his threat to move the team – all the way to Phoenix.
In November, Neil Lomax led the Big Red to a 28-point 4th-quarter comeback against Tampa Bay. It is still the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL history.
But it wasn’t enough as plans for a new stadium in St. Louis County fell through and there was little public support for a new downtown ‘domed’ stadium.
But even with the football Cardinals leaving, the St. Louis Steamers rocked the Arena from 1979-1988 as they outdrew the St. Louis Blues for four years straight. It didn’t hurt that several players were local like Don Ebert, Steve Pecher and Pat McBride.
And in 1988, Channel 4 welcomed a new face to the sports team, Zip Rzeppa, who was much loved for his light hearted approach to sports and the Zippo Awards. He said he’s still asked about those awards today.
Channel 4 was Zip’s last stop in television. He left here to work for Goodwill Industries. He’s also beginning a new career as an author of religious inspirational books for teens.