The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

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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May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace

    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing

    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

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