No Trivial Pursuit: St. Louis's Obsession with Trivia Nights
QUESTION 1: In 1999, which Cardinal became the only player in Major League Baseball history to hit two grand slams in the same inning? (Answer at the end of this post.)
Americans have played trivia games for decades. The popularity of TV’s Jeopardy! and the board game Trivial Pursuit are testaments to our collective fascination with facts and love of a good-old-fashioned competition. Pub trivia over a couple pitchers of beer is arguably more popular than darts these days—perhaps because there's no physical mastery required!
In the fairly recent past, trivia nights have become major fund-raisers for scores of schools, churches, and nonprofit organizations, and St. Louis has become the de facto trivia night capital of the country. In fact, on any given Friday or Saturday night, you can choose from roughly 25 different trivia nights in the region.
Just how have trivia nights become so popular in St. Louis? One theory credits a former high school history teacher named Dave Strauss—St. Louis’s very own Mr. Trivia—who hosted a Sunday night trivia call-in show on KMOX radio in the 1980s and 1990s. (For many years his radio co-host was Art Fleming, the original Jeopardy! quizmaster.) In the early 1980s, Strauss began promoting and organizing live trivia nights to benefit various organizations. The events were big hits, more schools and nonprofits got on the bandwagon, and a St. Louis fixture took hold.
QUESTION 2: What 1990 film, set in and shot in St. Louis, featured a young, widowed advertising executive played by James Spader falling in love with an older waitress played by Susan Sarandon? (Answer at the end of this post.)
I’ve attended or hosted more than 500 St. Louis trivia events in my lifetime. Here are a few observations I’ve made through the years:
There you have it. Now brush up on your Journey and Bon Jovi, find the trivia night nearest you, and enjoy this St. Louis staple!
P.S. We're hosting a trivia night of our own on February 25! Click here to find more information and reserve your table.
—Dan Dillon, former KMOV producer and current MHM volunteer
1. Fernando Tatis 2. White Palace