I lost a near and dear friend this week. Thomas James Franklin James IV (we called him Tommy) passed away suddenly at age 43. He was found dead in his apartment. Tommy was a press box fixture around St. Louis and especially at Mary Institute Country Day, his alma mater.
Tommy’s devotion to all things Rams was unparalleled. If the Rams were competing in anything, Tommy was there. He was the team statistician, historian, cheerleader and friend to everyone. He was the major domo of the press box.
Just this spring, I was over at the Rams track covering a day-long district track meet. Tommy was official stats keeper for that meet. He was caught in the broiling early spring time heat, and forgot to wear a ball cap. He was so red and roasted, other fellow sportswriters and I were worried about his well being. We thought he was going to be overcome by the heat.
I knew Tommy for at least 25 years or longer. He was a sincere friend to everyone in media circles. When the NCAA basketball tournaments came to the dome and to Scottrade Center, Tommy was always working well into the bewitching hour. He was the go to guy for the annual Missouri Valley Tournament.
We had some great moments and laughs together.
Like onetime, we both marched into the McDonnell Center for the MICDS Christmas basketball tournament, both wearing our bright red NCAA regional mock turtle neck shirts. We spotted each other, and both had a good hearty laugh.
One time, at the scorers’ table, Tommy offered me his seat. It was once those arm chaired office ones on a swivel. I went to sit down and the chair rolled back from underneath me. I landed bottom side down in front of a packed house. Tommy was kind enough not to laugh at me while my bruised ego was taking a beating.
If you had to miss a game, or leave early or arrive late, Tommy was there to take care of you. He would send you results which would be in your email in box before you got home.
When the coaches had their pre-game seed meeting and dinner for the annual holiday basketball tournament, Tommy was the guy with the instant seedings and hand out forms.
Tommy passed away July 30th but somehow, I missed that obit announcement. Only when I ready Bernie Miklasz’ column Saturday in the Post did I realize he had left us for good.
Bernie said the Cardinals are leaving his seat open the rest of the season at Busch Stadium. That’s a very nice gesture on their part.
A memorial service will be held Monday, 11 a.m. at St. Michael and St. George Church, 6345 Wydown Blvd. in Clayton. The family will receive mourners in the Great Hall following the services.
Mermorial donations are suggested to Cardinals Care, 700 Clark St., St. Louis, MO 63202.
Thomas Franklin “Tommy” James IV, R.I.P.