ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals concluded the 2023 season by celebrating Adam Wainwright’s retirement. But the end of the year also marked the end of an era for one of the club’s lesser-known legends.
After more than 40 years with the team, Dan Farrell, the Cardinals Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, decided to retire. His daughters stood by his side as the team honored him on the field.
“I guess when I look back, it has been a hell of a career,” Farrell said.
A career that started during a season to celebrate: 1982.
“I was just very fortunate to join at a time which was a very exciting year,” Farrell said.
The New Jersey native moved to St. Louis as a teenager. After graduating from Mizzou, a family friend helped him land a job in the Cardinals promotions department.
“I really caught a wave of the organization growing. The fanbase growing. ‘82 was the first time we drew two million since the ’60s and by ’87, we were drawing three million,” Farrell said.
The three million mark is now the gold standard for Cardinal’s attendance. A major league milestone, which Farrell’s fingerprints are all over.
“A winning ball club is the driving force, but the truth is, there’s a lot of teams that win a lot of games and don’t draw three million fans,” Farrell said.
“It’s hard to overstate the impact Dan Farrell’s had on the Cardinals,” Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said.
DeWitt says Farrell and his team have drawn fans and corporate sponsors with their innovations and insights.
“When he started, you would have giveaways that were basically the budget for, which was what the sponsor gave you to put the logo on the t-shirt or on the hat,” DeWitt said.
“We now have a five million dollar plus budget supplemental to sponsorship revenue related to our giveaways. And that’s because of Dan’s foresight,” DeWitt said.
After decades of bobbleheads, caps, and cups, Farrell says there are still some giveaways that give him pause. On Mother’s Day 2019, at the urging of Promotions Director Megan Eberhardt, the Cardinals offered their first purse promotion.
“We were like, ‘Well, that might be attractive to women, but we’re going to give it to everybody?’ She says, ‘Trust me, this will work,’” Farrell said.
And it did. The first Mother’s Day purse promotion remains the second-largest paid gate in the history of Busch Stadium III. Another Farrell favorite?
“There was a commercial way back with Jack Buck and Whitey Herzog fishing. We replicated the Whitey portion of Whitey sitting in a fishing boat with a fishing rod in the water,” Farrell said. “Whitey was such a character. Whitey had such an influence on my career. I always give him a lot of credit that he’s a lot of the engine behind us getting to the three-million plateau.”
In the final inning of his Cardinals career, we found Farrell on the field greeting guests.
“When you’re here 81 times a year for 40-plus years, a lot of great things occur. It’s just been a blessing to be on the ride,” he said.
Farrell tells us his swan song isn’t goodbye forever.
“I think I will be around. Hopefully, I’m not buying tickets. But if I do, I know all the discounting techniques we have and there’s plenty of very affordable tickets and great deals to be had,” he said.
A salesman to the end, Dan Farrell’s contributions to the Cardinals can’t be measured in World Series wins or Gold Gloves. But if your trip through the Busch Stadium turnstile ever ended with a replica ring or giveaway glove, there’s a good chance Dan was the reason it wound up in your hands.