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Shaw Making Friends Among St. Louis Hopeful : Pro football: He calls Missouri fans, tells them he's serious about possible move.

November 08, 1994|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

As Ram President John Shaw tries to defuse speculation that the team is heading to St. Louis, he's giving fans there all the more reason to be excited about a potential move.

Imagine you're a St. Louis football fan who writes a letter to Shaw and, a week or two later, Shaw calls you back personally and tells you the Rams "are very serious about coming" to St. Louis.

It happened Friday night to Bryan Herrick, a 31-year-old community college counselor from St. Louis, and Monday morning to Jim Rindler, a 45-year-old advertising executive from Ballwin, Mo.

"At first I thought it was my brother playing a joke on me," Herrick said. "I couldn't believe it was him. He was really nice."

Herrick said a message machine in another room answered Shaw's call as he picked up the phone, and he inadvertently recorded the entire 1-minute, 30-second conversation.

Shaw could not be reached Monday, but Herrick played the tape for three Times reporters who regularly cover the Rams and were able to verify Shaw's voice.

Shaw began by thanking Herrick for his letter and all the other letters he's received, and telling him the Rams are "serious" about moving. Herrick then tells Shaw how St. Louis fans would have a real passion and love for the Rams and how excited they are about them possibly coming to St. Louis.

"I'm glad to hear that," Shaw replied. "I'm impressed with your mail support. I just wanted to let people know we're grateful for it, and hopefully we'll get it done for you guys."

Herrick said reaction has been mixed among the several friends he's played the tape for.

"Some think it's awesome and that the Rams are on their way here," Herrick said. "Others say, 'Yeah, but he could be calling people in Baltimore and Anaheim too.'

"From my standpoint, it's one thing to say you're considering a city, it's another to call the fans of that city and express interest. It's almost like a marketing tool--they want to generate fan interest and sell season tickets."

Rindler, who sent a batch of candy bars to Shaw for Halloween with the message: "It will be a real treat for you to come to St. Louis," said he was stunned to get a call from the Ram executive Monday. Their conversation lasted about 15 minutes.

"It was like getting a call from the president of the United States," Rindler said. "He said he was coming to town shortly and was going to make a decision this month. I was impressed that he opens his own mail. That's the mark of a sincere person."

Frank Bryant, president of the Rams' booster club and an active member of the Orange County group trying to keep the team in Anaheim, said he was not surprised--or disappointed--that Shaw is calling St. Louis fans.

"I've always felt St. Louis was their No. 1 choice and we're a fallback position," Bryant said. "I suspect he's trying to get into a position where if that's where they want to go, he has some friends, if not, it was nice talking to you. It's all public relations on his part. We have a much bigger picture in mind than worrying about whether John is calling fans."

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