The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 20, 2012

Mike Pound: Mark McGwire and other St. Louis Cardinals help build homes in Joplin

I spent most of Sunday afternoon watching the St. Louis Cardinals.

And when I say “most of my Sunday afternoon” I mean all of my Sunday afternoon because the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates decided it would be fun to play for 19 innings. When the game finally ended, and the Cards lost, I remember thinking, “This sucks. And the worst part is I have to get up and go to work tomorrow.”

But the thing is, all I had to do on Monday was get up and drive to Joplin and do what I normally do, which is pretend to work. And let’s be honest, the only energy I expended Sunday while watching the game was when I got off the couch to get a beer. Now granted, it was a 19-inning game, which meant I had to get up off the couch more than I normally do, but I didn’t exactly wear myself out.

Imagine if you were coaching in that 19-inning game, or managing the Cardinals, or if you were the general manager or owner, and not only did you have to work the next day but that work would involve getting on a plane and flying to Joplin to build houses.

It would be like being Todd Akin’s press secretary on Monday, is what I’m thinking.

Funny thing though, Mark McGwire didn’t think being in Joplin the day after coaching 19 innings was awful. Mark thought being in Joplin was great and he laughed off Sunday’s game.

“Hey, it was a day game,” Mark said with a grin. “And the first nine innings only took about two hours. We just decided to go another 10 or so.”

I told Mark that I wasn’t a sports writer and that I didn’t really come to chat with him about baseball. And then I proceeded to chat with him about baseball. I mean, how many chances do you get to talk baseball with Mark McGwire.

After I got the baseball talk out of my system, I asked Mark why in the world he gave up a precious day off to come to Joplin. Basically, Mark said he and the rest of the Cardinals who showed up to work on Habitat For Humanity homes did so because they thought it was the right thing to do.

“I was sitting in Mike’s (Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny) office when John (Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak) came in and said, ‘I’ve got something I would like you to do,’ and when he told us we both agreed right away,” he said.

The Cardinals have done a lot for Joplin since the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Reaching out to others has long been a club tradition. In advance of today’s trip the Cardinals announced they were donating $200,000 to four area charities and they also are supporting the construction of five Habitat for Humanity homes as part of the Governor’s Joplin Challenge.

McGwire said seeing the devastation after the storm from afar was bad enough but visiting Joplin, even more than a year after the tornado, and meeting people impacted by the storm was “eye popping”.

As we chatted several people stopped by to have him sign a photo or a jersey or to pose for a picture.  Each person as they walked away thanked Mark for coming to Joplin and you could tell they really meant it.

“No,” Mark said each time. “Thank you.”

You could tell he really he meant it.


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