An SIU alumnus who works for the St. Louis Cardinals earned a World Series championship ring last season without ever appearing in a game.
Todd Thomas, a 1992 SIU graduate, has worked for the Major League Baseball team as the in-game emcee at Busch Stadium in St. Louis since 1997 and is responsible for entertaining thousands of Cardinal fans in between innings at every home game.
The Cardinals view Thomas, who is known as “That One Guy” at games, to be so important that they gave him a ring following the team’s championship title in 2011.
“It’s a dream come true,” Thomas said. “Even when I was in high school, it was my dream job. I knew I wanted to be a DJ or do something in the sports field. To have this job is really very special.”
After graduating with a degree in speech communications Thomas — a lifelong Cardinal fan from Bement — immediately started to pursue his dream. He sent out resumes to several professional teams across the country, but after numerous rejections, he sold cable advertising and worked in the grain industry.
Eventually, Thomas began to work as a disc jockey in St. Louis before he landed a job interview with the St. Louis Rams football team. To prepare for the interview with the Rams, Thomas called the Cardinals for advice, and they were so impressed after talking to him that they created a position just for him.
Thomas has been with the Cardinals ever since. At first, he was hired to do just one promotion each game. Now, after 16 years with the team, the Cardinals have Thomas at the center of entertainment at Busch Stadium.
“Once they realized that I was very good at ad-libbing, energetic and entertaining, the Cardinals started to give me more and more to do at the games,” he said. “I’ll also DJ before the games and at team pep rallies from time to time.”
Kristin Casey, manager of promotions and entertainment for the Cardinals, said Thomas is very important to the overall environment at the ballpark.
“Todd brings a different element of entertainment to games that we haven’t had before,” she said. “He’s very good at his job and so quick-witted. People gravitate towards him, so it’s very easy for him to entertain 40,000 people a night. Not very many people can excel at that job like Todd does.”
Each day, Thomas puts on a Cardinals jersey — one of 22 in his closet — that has “That One Guy” stitched on the back. His nickname was actually given to him by a Cardinal Hall-of-Famer.
“One day I went to get on an elevator that was getting ready to shut and (Cardinal Hall of Fame shortstop) Ozzie Smith held the door open,” Thomas said. “He said, ‘Wait, I have to hold the door open for that one guy.’ He didn’t know my name. I said, ‘Wow. Ozzie Smith just gave me my nickname.’”
Thomas said he has several memories like that from his time with the team over the years, but one stands out above the rest without a doubt.
After the Cardinals won a World Series title in 2006, Thomas was the emcee at the team’s parade and celebration at a packed Busch Stadium.
Ten minutes before the team came out, the Cardinals told Thomas to get the crowd pumped up.
“I was the first person to address the crowd of over 50,000,” Thomas said. “I went up to the microphone and said, ‘We are the champions of the world,’ and the place erupted and went crazy. The energy that happened at that moment was unbelievable.”
Thomas trained for such moments when he was a Saluki mascot during his time as an SIU student. Nancy Esling, the spirit coordinator who oversaw the cheerleaders, mascots and shakers during Thomas’ time at SIU, said it was clear even then that Thomas would be successful.
“I didn’t know where he was going to take it, but he was always extremely talented, creative and innovative,” she said. “We asked our mascots to do a lot, and he always went far and above our expectations. He was great in skits, great with the fans and most importantly, great with the kids.”
Esling said she has been proud to watch Thomas make it to the Major Leagues and couldn’t be happier with how well he has done.
“Words can’t even describe how proud I am of him,” she said. “It’s great to call him a Saluki because he’s really a Saluki in every sense of the word.”
Thomas worked with both the St. Louis Blues and the Cardinals for seven years, but now he focuses on the Cardinals and his own entertainment company. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and three kids.