St. Louis Walk Of Fame Adds McCarver, Benton, Falk
Three new stars are joining the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Adding to the 140 famous St. Louisans already installed on Delmar Blvd. in the Loop will be 19th-century U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, a champion of manifest destiny; former Cardinal and longtime broadcaster Tim McCarver; as well as Lee Falk, who’s famous for his contributions to comics and theater.
“He premiered the Phantom in 1937, who was the first masked costumed superhero of the comics, predating both Superman and Batman,” said the Walk’s founder Joe Edwards. “In fact, those writers were heavily influenced by the Phantom, ‘the ghost who walks’.”
Tim McCarver's star will be the first to be unveiled, and he is expected to be at the ceremony on Aug. 4.
According to the biographical information on his website, McCarver was only 17 when he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1959. He became the full-time catcher with the Cardinals in 1963. McCarver excelled at and behind the plate. In 1964, he was the World Series’ Most Valuable Player, batting .478 and leading his team to a dramatic triumph over the New York Yankees. From 1964-1969, McCarver developed lifelong friendships with Cardinals’ future Hall of Fame pitchers Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton, who respected his valued insights on opposing hitters.
"McCarver starred in two more World Series, 1967 and 1968, before being traded, unexpectedly, to the Philadelphia Phillies at the 1969 season," according to his website.
The catcher played for 21 years and became a broadcaster almost instantly upon retirement.
His work behind the mic got him into Cooperstown. As the Baseball Hall of Fame release from 2011 said,
“Tim McCarver, who has served as a national analyst on networks for three decades and simultaneously shined as part of broadcast teams with four big league clubs, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting."
A 2011 article on the restoration of the Thomas Hart Benton statue in Lafayette Park addressed the question of who this person was:
"Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858) was one of Missouri's first U.S. senators. He was born in North Carolina, and served under Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. After the war, Benton moved to his estate in the Missouri Territory, which had recently been opened to expansion.
"Benton practiced law and served as editor for the Missouri Enquirer in St. Louis. When the Missouri Compromise of 1820 made Missouri a state, Benton was elected to the Senate. Under Jackson's presidency, Benton served as the leader of the Democratic-Republican Party. During this time, he earned the nickname of 'Old Bullion.'
"Benton was an author of the Homestead Acts, which gave land grants in the expanding frontier to those willing to work the soil. He was a strong advocate of Westward expansion and the idea that became known as Manifest Destiny.
"During a meeting of the Pacific Railroad Co. in St. Louis in 1849, under the rotunda of the Old Courthouse, he made a speech wherein he exclaimed, "there is the East, there is India," meaning that the West's wealth was like the fabled riches of India. The words are inscribed in the front of the pedestal of the Lafayette Park statue. Benton is facing west.
"He was the first senator to serve five terms. But he was denied a sixth, due to his moderate, pro-union stance on slavery preceding the Civil War.
"Benton died in Washington, D.C., in 1858 a couple of years after publishing his autobiography 'Thirty Years' View.' After his death, a monument was commissioned, which became the Benton Bronze.
According to Wikipedia, Lee Falk was born Leon Harrison Gross in 1911 in St. Louis. While he is probably best remembered for his comic strips – The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician – he was also a playwright and theatrical director who worked with such stars as Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston and Ethel Waters.
During World War II, Falk also worked as chief of propaganda for the new radio station KMOX at St. Louis, where he became the leader of the radio foreign language division of the Office of War Information.
Falk died in 1999.
The three were selected by a 120-person committee including living inductees made up of leaders from local universities, historical societies, and arts organizations. Living inductees also get to vote on who is added.