FAITHFUL FAN | Cards’ manager, broadcaster give witness to value of life

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a four-time Gold Glove award winner as a catcher during his playing days, is known off the field for his Catch 22 Foundation.

The charity opened the "Catch 22 Miracle Field," designed and constructed to allow children of all abilities to experience the thrill of playing baseball, accommodating athletes with physical and mental disabilities. Now, in its 10th year, the foundation has raised funds for its third field. The foundation also has given funds to the Fanconi Anemia Foundation and raised funds to provide rehabilitation equipment for St. Johns Mercy Hospital and its pediatric cancer facility.

Matheny has plenty of entertaining baseball stories, but he's at his best when urging people to consider their priorities and making an impact on others. He was the keynote speaker at the Vitae Foundation's St. Charles Pro-Life Event in November. The event was hosted by the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Pro-Life Committee. Funds raised help promote a culture of life and educate women facing unplanned pregnancies about resources available to assist them in making an informed decision.

The best ballplayers, Matheny noted, are constantly learning new things. They're also disciplined, set goals, have energy and are positive and encouraging. He cited former Cardinal center fielder Willie McGee as being the most encouraging and positive player he's known, and he quoted the smiling former batting champ as saying: "Some people light up a room when the walk in, and some people light it up when they walk out."

The Cardinals are "an incredible organization from the top down," Matheny said, and "the jersey stands for something special."

The team is different, he said, because it lives the phrase, "selflessly serving others." It has "so much heart." In talking about how the team overcame challenges this past season when injuries affected key players, he said that "what was really going on behind the scenes was this — selflessly serving others," in an atmosphere where everyone improves because of that support. The more people give, the more it comes back, often more than they gave, Matheny said.

That "giving" philosophy applies especially to the Vitae Foundation, he added, because the organization is committed to saving lives. Selflessly serving others brings a culture where "people are helping people ... and that's what we're here to do today." Making a difference in the community makes it a better place for others, he pointed out.

St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Rick Horton served as master of ceremonies at the event. He told the gathering that he has felt God's love for him and that has inspired him to action. The Vitae Foundation's message is one that is compassionate, concerned about mothers such as Horton's mom who was faced with a difficult pregnancy question and chose life.

Vitae, he noted, supports his view that God is in charge of creation and that "people do not have a right to destroy God's creation."

The St. Louis baseball community is indeed blessed with people such as Matheny, Horton and Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, whose Adam and Jenny Wainwright 25:35 Foundation is based on Matthew 25:35 and serving others. They carry on the torch held high for many years by Stan Musial and many others. I salute the Vitae speaker, Matheny, for his dedication to children with mental and physical disabilities and his belief that they deserve equal treatment in every life experience. As the Vitae Foundation pointed out, it is a powerful witness to the value of all human life.

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Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville. 

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