France Laux

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Francis Laux, Jr. (December 3, 1897 - November 16, 1978), usually known as France Laux, was the first full-time radio voice of baseball in St. Louis.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Laux was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, USA, the son of a local judge. He served in the Army Air Service during World War I, and worked as an insurance and real estate broker in Bristow (a suburb of Tulsa), refereeing college football games part-time.

On the eve of the 1927 World Series, KVOO station manager Fred Yates did not have anyone to recreate the games. Someone mentioned Laux' name. Yates found him and took him to the studio. Later in the year, he began broadcasting Oklahoma and Oklahoma A&M football games as well. He was the first to introduce Gene Autry on the radio. In 1928, he married Pearl Genevieve Boyer (1900-1976), a professional singer.

Career in St. Louis[edit]

Laux' work soon came to the attention of the management at KMOX in St. Louis, who invited him there for a 30-day trial as the voice of both the Cardinals and Browns in 1929. This arrangement was possible because the Cardinals and Browns shared Sportsman's Park. As it turned out, 30 days became 24 years.

Laux became very popular, in large part because, at the time, the Cardinals were the southernmost and westernmost team in Major League Baseball. As such, their radio network blanketed large chunks of the Midwest and Southwest. Also, KMOX was a 50,000-watt clear channel powerhouse, with virtual coast-to-coast coverage at night.

Career at CBS and Mutual[edit]

His popularity soon gained him notice with CBS, which had bought KMOX shortly after the start of the 1929 season. He commentated the World Series for CBS from 1933 to 1938, and the first eight All-Star games from 1933 to 1941, the last three of those for Mutual. He turned down offers to broadcast for the Yankees and Giants in New York, preferring to stay in St. Louis, where he had a huge following. He won the first Sporting News Announcer of the Year Award in 1937.

Laux was the voice of both the Cardinals and Browns until 1942. After World War II, he commentated solely for the Cardinals. After only one season, he stepped down, but returned in 1948 as the voice of the Browns. He went into semi-retirement after that season, but called weekend games until the end of the 1953 season, the Browns' last in St. Louis. In the 1940s, he wrote the Hyde Park Sports Letter, a 4 page publication that highlighted national and St. Louis Sports.

Other sports[edit]

Laux was a broadcaster for several other sports besides Major League Baseball, including boxing, basketball, hockey and football.

Later life[edit]

After 1953, Laux turned his attention to a bowling house he had bought in St. Louis after the war. He also served as secretary of the American Bowling Congress for many years

Laux had two sons with Boyer, France Albert Laux (1929-2012) and Roger Harry Laux (1930-1981). His remains are interred, with those of his wife Pearl, in Calvary Cemetery, Edwardsville, Illinois.

References[edit]

Patterson, Ted (2002). The Golden Voices of Baseball. Champaign, IL: Sports Publishing L.L.C. ISBN 1-58261-498-9