Probably One of the Most Devoted Fans in St. Louis Blues Hockey History Has Died
|Ronald H. "Mr. Hockey" Schmidt|
When 72-year-old Ronald H. Schmidt of Mehlville died in his sleep early Tuesday morning, the St. Louis Blues lost not just a fan. They lost a fan who attended the franchise's first home game in 1967 and who came to know announcers, journalists and Hall-of-Famers alike simply by showing up, almost without fail, for 43 straight seasons.
Schmidt always got a slice of pizza and a Pepsi and rarely spoke during the action. "He didn't holler too often," John recalls, "but when he did, he had a voice that carried a long way." One of Schmidt's repeated sources of frustration was referee Ron Wicks. "I'm sure Wicks heard it."
John says his dad was chummy with announcer Gus Kyle, and in later years, Bruce Affleck. He counted players Bob Plager and Garry Unger among his friends. John even remembers hockey legends Bobby Orr, Glenn Hall and Stan Mikita popping up in section 227A when they were in town, just to say hello to his father.
Sportscasters Bill Davis (then of Channel 4) and Ron Jacober (formerly of Channel 5) sought out Schmidt for sound bites. "A lot of those reporter guys all sat real close by our section," John remembers. "I guess after a period of time, they noticed [Dad] was there all the time."
Schmidt always got a ride or carpooled to the games, John says, because he refused to get behind the wheel of any vehicle for most of his adult life. (A car struck him and fractured his skull when he was a young man, which John believes permanently spooked him).
As Parkinson's disease took its toll on Schmidt in recent years, he began leaving games after a period or two, John recalls. "That really upset him," he says.
Schmidt's widow Lois says she's asked their season-ticket representative to see about placing some kind of plaque on their seats in the Scottrade Center to memorialize her late husband.
Only 115 season-ticket accounts have been active since 1967, according to a Blues spokesperson.
"Dad always said he really wanted to do two things before he died: retire while he was still standing up and watch the Blues win a Stanley Cup," John Schmidt says. "He got to do one of 'em."
According to the Post-Dispatch obit, visitation is today at Kutis South County Chapel, 5255 Lemay Ferry Rd. (at Butler Hill) from 3 to 8 p.m.