Amadee Wohlschlaeger, one of the most renowned sports cartoonists of the last century, died at age 102 on Tuesday in St. Louis.
Known professionally only as Amadee, he captured the heart, soul and humor of St. Louis sports with his pen, pencil and brushes for more than 70 years.
As a fixture at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Amadee became known especially for his sports cartoons, notably for his baseball depictions of the Cardinals from the days of Dizzy Dean and the Gas House Gang to the Whitey Herzog years.
Amadee also had an amazing talent for capturing the real essence of a sports figure's features in his portrait work. His player portraits of Cardinals championship teams on posters once were given to fans in a nostalgic promotional event.
Amadeebecame nationally known through his many covers for The Sporting News when the weekly was known as "the Baseball Bible" and headquartered in St. Louis. He also executed the drawings for a book called "Take Me Out to the Ballpark."
Known for his pencil-thin mustache, wild sports coats and ever-present cigar, Amadee was never far from a glass of scotch or his wide circle of friends, which included Hall of Famers Red Schoendienst, Stan Musial and Joe Medwick. His laugh could fill a room.
Amadee's cartoons could have bite. In 1969, according to the Post-Dispatch, the Cards were stumbling along after a championship season and Amadee drew Schoendienst, then the manager, holding a shotgun about ready to blast some of his Redbirds off a telephone line.
Catcher Tim McCarver, infuriated, confronted Amadee in the clubhouse -- bumping him with his chest protector -- and demanded to know the meaning of the cartoon.
Amadee, a big powerful man, shot back: "It means some of you [guys] aren't going to be around next year."
And, indeed, McCarver was traded that winter to the Phillies.
For more than half a century, Amadee drew the "Weatherbird," the Post-Dispatch's wise-cracking Page 1 fixture. There was a saying about St. Louis and its longtime baseball club, the Browns: "First in booze, first in shoes and last in the American League."
After the Browns won their only pennant in 1944, Amadee drew a uniformed Weatherbird standing on its head with the caption: "And first in the American League."
Amadee often would spend Spring Training in St. Petersburg, Fla., and send back his notable "Cardinals Camp Capers" cartoons to the newspaper.
Once, in the mid-1970s, the Cardinals made an exhibition trip with the Phillies to the Dominican Republic. Amadee drew a page-wide cartoon about the Cards' adventures with one problem -- how to get it to St. Louis quickly for the Sunday edition. There were no computers available in those days, of course. Solution: cutting the cartoon into pieces that would fit onto a small transmitting machine attached to a telephone.
The pieces got there but, as Amadee laughingly reported later: "I drew that cartoon in 45 minutes. It took the guys back in St. Louis all day to put it back together."
Amadee never went to high school and was a notoriously poor speller. Once, for a hunting story, he drew a cartoon of wild turkeys calling "GOOBLE, GOOBLE" myriad times. It made just one edition before he had to quickly make the correction to "GOBBLE, GOBBLE."
For years, Amadee did the covers for the University of Missouri football programs and for the annual St. Louis Baseball Writers' dinner. They became collectors' items.
Until his later years, Amadee was a convivial press box regular at Busch Stadium II.
Dan Martin, his friend and co-worker, put it this way: "Anyone who knew him would agree that he was a larger-than-life personality."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less