Getting Back to Baseball
The few signs of spring in southern Missouri are welcome reminders that baseball is nearly back again. Nothing embodies the hope of springtime like the prospect of taking your favorite team to the playoffs, or even to the World Series.
Well, I can think of one thing better than winning a World Series: winning two of them in a row.
This is what the St. Louis Cardinals have set out to do, from the first day of Spring Training. The immense pressure to repeat last year’s heroics is squarely on the shoulders of a team which is – for me – easy to root for. I lived and died with every pitch of the playoffs last year. Each hard-fought victory, each amazing moment, each gritty comeback told a short story about the greatness of the game of baseball. No sport is so dramatic.
Then, when the team came to Washington, DC this winter as World Champions, I got the chance to meet many of the players. The St. Louis Cardinals earned their championship with heroics on the field, but they are just as deserving of the great recognition they get off the field for their character and kindness.
This good group of guys cleans up well. They are bright, they exemplify to all of us what is possible with hard work and perseverance, and they possess a community spirit which makes them active in communities around Missouri and around the country. As role models, we couldn’t ask for better players or a better organization.
In 14 years, the organization’s charitable arm, Cardinals Care, has contributed $14 million to non-profit community efforts. Add to that the invaluable presence of Cardinals players in hospitals, at community events throughout the region, teaching boys and girls all over Missouri the finer points of baseball, and acting as an inspirational presence to young people who see a model for service.
None of the things Cardinals players do off the field will help them win championships, but it doesn’t stop them from participating in the lives of the people who look up to them. It shouldn’t stop us, either.
As the baseball season gets under way, it is well worth remembering the importance of being active in our communities. Even baseball players who get paid millions to play a game for a living still find ways to volunteer. When they give back to the community, they make it possible for us to share the thrill of their victories as fans, and more. We are partners in their efforts to make life a little better for those who most need our help.
Remember, in no other sport is there a play called a “sacrifice,” but in baseball, even a player who makes an out can get credit for helping move a runner over, bringing in a run and contributing to the success of the team.
I’m very excited to see these young men take the field again this year.
Win or lose, they will continue to be an example to us all that the more we give – the more we get.