Celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, the Cardinals Ted Savage RBI Golf Classic is expanding this year with the addition of host Mike Shildt. Besides benefitting Cardinals Care and the St. Louis RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) programs, the golfing on Monday, June 24th at Norwood Hills will also benefit Mike Shildt’s foundation Baseball for Life.
Shildt founded Baseball for Life in 2012 with Ed Walton, the retired baseball coach at Charlotte Country Day. The two had met years before, when Shildt worked the scoreboard for the Double-A Charlotte O’s. Walton was the scorekeeper and became a mentor for Mike, who wound up attending and then working at the coach’s baseball camps.
“We looked up and you realize at some point in life that it’s not about you,” Shildt said. “You get to a certain point and say I want to do something for others. I want to help out. The old saying, ‘baseball’s been very good to me’. We both had that passion of the game. He made a career out of it and I’m making a career out of it. We both have a passion and a love for young people and helping them, so we called it Baseball For Life.”
The foundation has refurbished baseball fields, held equipment drives, and conducted coaching clinics, but also serves a greater purpose.
“The primary thing we do is a mentor program for middle school young men that have some kind of at-risk situation,” explained Shildt, adding that the program was not exclusive for those in strenuous situations. “When we first started in 2012, we asked how do we determine ‘at-risk’? Then we realized every sixth through ninth grader is at some level of risk, so we didn’t want to qualify people on what we felt was a stable home or income or whatever.”
The 40-50 participants each year are brought into the program, which features various experiences.
“We do some baseball things–we have a facility called Baseball On Deck, that allows us to come over there and workout for free,” Shildt continued. “We bring the kids in and work on their baseball skills, but ultimately, we want to give them positive life experiences and help them learn to grow as men and give them things to think about and resources, an outlet if they need help with something whether it’s academic or social or something they’re dealing with. We just want to be available and mentor them.”
Baseball For Life is a 100% volunteer based organization, built on four pillars of character–service, stewardship, leadership, and ownership.
“The players that participate in the program have to provide a service,” Shildt said. “We have individual projects they do and a group project, whether it’s making sandwiches for a homeless shelter or cleaning up a creek or something. They have to give back too and learn and grow as well.”
Some of the first players to participate in the program have now graduated college, but the alumni are able to give back to Baseball For Life much sooner than that.
“Once you go through the program as a ninth grader, you end up actually being a peer model,” Shildt explained. “It’s actually worked out really well. You’ve gone through the program, now you’re a tenth through twelfth grader, now you are a peer model for a group. Now you give back, because they’re the ones who just got through middle school and now they can say ‘hey, I was right were you are. I had an issue with peer pressure for alcohol or drugs, or girls, or trouble in school, or trouble with my athletic program, or I cut, or not playing well, whatever’ just being available for them. And then just prepping them for what high school looks like.”
The Cardinals Ted Savage RBI Golf Classic hosted by Mike Shildt is Monday, June 24th at Norwood Hills Country Club.
Foursomes are available with or without a Cardinals Celebrity and individual registrations. More information is available by email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit cardinals.com/rbigolf.
The Cardinals Golf Classic honors Ted Savage’s contributions to the organization as a community ambassador until his retirement in 2012.
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Baseball For Life