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Cardinals, Kansas City Royals go to bat for Joplin

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2011 - In a video of the Cardinals visit to Joplin Wednesday, pitcher Kyle McClellan shares a memorable comment from a young fan he met in the tornado-ravaged town.

"The kid said I would've worn my Cardinals stuff, but I don't have any, any more," said McClellan.

Keep that in mind, Cardinals fans, while watching the upcoming I-70 series between the Redbirds and Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium. The teams have dedicated the games, June 17-19, to the Missouri community that was pummeled by an EF-5 tornado on May 22. One hundred fifty-one people died as a result of the storm; 8,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Players will wear a "Teams Unite for Joplin" commemorative jersey patch during the three games, and fans will be able to buy the patches at Busch and at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to benefit recovery efforts. There will also be an online auction of commemorative baseballs, game-used bases and lineup cards on the Cardinals website. Fans who go to the Sunday game can buy scratch-off tickets for a chance to win an autographed jersey from the weekend series. Funds will be distributed through the Cardinals Care charity, which is also accepting cash donations via the website.

The Cardinals announced the fund-raising campaign at a press conference Wednesday with Gov. Jay Nixon at the Joplin Athletic Complex. McClellan and Cardinals third baseman David Freese -- who are both from the St. Louis area -- along with pitcher Adam Wainwright, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III and other team officials toured the destruction and met victims and relief workers.

"Teams Unite for Joplin" is a collaboration between the Cardinals, the Royals, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined the St. Louis Beacon staff in April 2008 after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.