JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Friday, the Cardinals will join teams across Major League Baseball in wearing hats emblazoned with the logo of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of 17 victims in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s day.
It’s a league-wide gesture to honor those lost in the shooting and show support for those they left behind.
“Innocent lives being taken, young lives being taken. It’s horrible,” said Jason Motte. “For us to be able to go out and- even if it’s as small a gesture as wearing a hat and showing our support for those going through that tough time- it can help. Even if it’s just a little bit and it helps a few people.”
Motte has long emphasized baseball’s ability to make an impact beyond the field. By now, fans are well aware of the Strikeout Cancer movement, led by Motte’s foundation and championed by players and fans with the signature “K Cancer” shirts.
It is bigger than baseball. [Baseball] is a sport. It’s a game. People lost their lives.
Athletes have a profile and a platform that allow them to reach a mass audience. Some fans might wince at athletes engaging on subjects other than their profession (evidenced by the all-too-popular “stick to sports” refrain), but many believe gestures like Friday’s special caps serve to transcend the game and give the platform a valuable purpose.
“Being able to help others. It is bigger than baseball. [Baseball] is a sport. It’s a game. People lost their lives. If people can’t see that’s bigger than the game then I think there’s some other stuff going on,” Motte said.
A few lockers down from Motte is another MLB veteran who’s done his best to take baseball beyond the stadium.
Adam Wainwright’s nonprofit, Big League Impact, works to fund myriad charities and his Waino’s World event has spread across the league, helping fund operations that provide clean drinking water to those in need as well as Operation Food Search.
The 36-year-old pitcher is constantly working to maximize the game’s positive impact, even if sometimes that means just playing the game itself.
“What we do in our profession is, we’re entertainers,” he said Wednesday, looking toward to Friday’s game. “If we can help distract from that, or help alleviate some of the pain, I think anybody here will tell you we want to be the first ones to do it.”
“It’s a weird combination, because it is a game but it can also bring people together,” added Motte. “Even with gestures like this. It brings people together for a common goal, to show support.”
The Cardinals have around ten players from Florida in big league camp, though none are from the Parkland area. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 2007 and returned to the school to speak at the vigil.
Seeing the impact it had on him resonated with friends and former teammates, and made Friday’s gesture all the more meaningful.
“Playing in Chicago and seeing it’s the place where Anthony Rizzo went to school, it hits home. People don’t think stuff like that hits home, but it does. It hits home,” Motte said. “And maybe the game is something that gives people a chance to take their minds off what’s going on, even if it’s for a moment.”
Teams will wear the hats during all pregame activities and will have the option to wear them during the game as well.
Following the Cardinals game against the Marlins Friday, the hats will be autographed and authenticated to be auctioned off by Cardinals Care at Cardinals.com. The proceeds of the online auction will benefit the Broward Education Foundation, which established the Stoneman Douglas Victims Fund to support the victims and families of the shooting.
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