During the course of discussing his goals not just for the rest of the season but for his charitable activities off of it, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez had a box placed in front of him. Made of wood, the handle across the top of it looked as worn as the sides that were now adorned with some Tsunami Waves Foundation stickers.
“This was the shoe shining kit I used in the Dominican Republic to shine shoes,” said Martinez, through the aid of translator Alex Naboa. “It wasn’t much. From a young age, I was taught to work and it was all in good faith. So when I was sent out to work, I did it just to make good tips, to be able to bring money home and help out the family.”
“I have had it at home, I always have it with me,” he added. “I’m still able to shine shoes–it brings back a lot of memories.”
Moments later, Carlos did just that. He stood before the crowd gathered for his event and shared his story about shining shoes and then took to action as a small donation had Martinez showing off his skills on their feet.
Proceeds for the event were already over $11,000 and among those who will be benefiting are 300 area youngsters who will receive loaded up backpacks from Feed the Children in August to help get ready for school. A different family was presented with a check to assist the education of their children and others will also benefit in Carlos’ native Dominican Republic.
And then there were also those who had already benefited just from his time as some familiar faces from the Mercy Cancer Center were waiting to high five and hug Martinez when he arrived at the event.
“It feels amazing just to walk in and see so much support–that’s what it’s about,” he smiled. “Being able to give back to my community, I’m a young player and I feel like it’s necessary. Especially, we do it for the kids. Seeing the kids that we met and being able to give back to them and seeing their faces when I walk in is just a wonderful feeling. I love giving back to the St. Louis community, they’ve been really good to me.”
The schedule of events for Martinez and the Tsunami Waves Foundation has continued to grow over the past year, but he’s also been involved in other efforts. Mike Matheny noted that Martinez and Jaime Garcia had a particular impact on a recent little league team from the Dominican that Catch-22 Foundation had brought over to the United States for a visit to Busch Stadium.
“It’s always staying positive,” said Martinez. “I’m always telling them the main thing is keep your head up and listen to your family because that is the main support no matter what. No matter the difficult circumstance you may be going through, keep your head up and listen to your family because sometimes when you’re young, you don’t know what decisions you might make or type of guidance and having your family there is very important. And first and foremost, God. Support from God and always keeping your head up.”
“Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to have the traditional family or the support from a family–a lot came from my mother and my Grandma. Even that was very important in my career, so that’s why I like to highlight to other kids in my position that want to grow up like me or be like me that it’s really important. And if they do have the opportunity to have a family like that, it’s important to listen to them and to cherish that.”
Martinez is still listening. And still acting in good faith.
“There are so many families out there in need and I’m doing my best to help them out,” he said. “They’re happy with such little things, I just want to do my best to make them happy.”
photo credit: St. Louis Baseball Weekly, Bill Greenblatt/UPI