Bader's way of giving back: batting gloves

August 6th, 2021

ST. LOUIS -- The more excites with his dynamic play at the Major League level, the more of a name he makes for himself in the St. Louis area. The 27-year-old, drafted out of the University of Florida in 2015, has been a Cardinal for six years and is currently enjoying his best season to date.

Now, he's joining a score of his teammates in finding his voice in the surrounding community he’s called home.

Bader on Thursday morning paired up with his batting gloves brand, Bruce Bolt, and donated hundreds of pairs of batting gloves to youth baseball players part of the Cardinals Care’s Redbird Rookies Program and the local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program chapter at the Mathews Dickey Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis.

“You can really only do so much on the field,” Bader said. “I can have a good game, have a good week, have a good stretch, even have a good year and make people happy that way. But to be able to take a step away from the field and focus our energy differently, I think is important. It's something that my father's always taught me, my mother as well. I’ve been surrounded and been very fortunate to have a lot of things, and it's important to me to just give back.

“This is really just the start. I've been here for a few years, but I really do want to establish myself as somebody that can take this game and have a lighter feel of it away from Busch Stadium and just make a lot of kids smile and happy, and I feel batting gloves is a good start.”

At this St. Louis community center, Bader took questions in an event emceed by Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Claiborne from the kids in attendance: Who’s the toughest pitcher you ever faced? When did you hit your first home run? Have you ever had dino nuggets?

By the time Bader was asked when he started playing baseball for the fifth time of the morning -- the answer was 5 years old, he always replied -- he decided to have some fun and shake things up. He told them he started playing at 6.

The joking quickly turned to awestruck kids, each going home with a toy version of Fredbird and jet-black pairs of Bruce Bolt batting gloves, a family company based in Austin, Texas.

Bader is the premier athlete partnered with Bruce Bolt, which gets its name from the family’s grandfather, Bruce, who is said to have been struck by lightning twice and survived. The Bader Series gloves, which you’ll see Bader wearing in his at-bats, are baby blue with red accents and a red lightning bolt on the top of the hand.

“We've been collaborating for some time now, and the stuff off the field happened as a result of my wanting to connect with the people off the field, kids, anything we can do,” Bader said. “It's all focused on batting gloves. They put this together, and it’s been a real collaboration.”

Events like Thursday's are part of the natural progression for Bader’s career, now that he's more of a household name in St. Louis. He's been encouraged by the likes of Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and his parents to give back to the community. His mom, Janice, was in attendance for Thursday’s event (a day after she helped a couple at Busch Stadium capture their engagement).

Bader has a history of charitable work to lean on. Wainwright and Molina have both won the Roberto Clemente Award -- part of six total won by Cardinals -- while Jack Flaherty has been at the forefront of social justice activism and giving to Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis as well.

And now Bader is now doing his part.

“They just do such a good job of surrounding themselves with people who allow themselves to give back to the community that they're playing in,” Bader said. “Those guys have been here for so many years, and just watching them give back, make a lot of people happy, just means a lot.”

Bird droppings

• St. Louis on Thursday gave out their Minor League awards for July, handing Double-A outfielder Player of the Month honors for a .326 average with 12 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs, leading all Double-A Central hitters with a .446 OBP. High-A right-hander Wilfredo Pereira took home Pitcher of the Month, with the lowest ERA (2.73) among Cardinals Minor League starters (min. 4 games started) in July, striking out 34 batters with a 0.94 WHIP across 29 2/3 innings.

• Mike Shannon is not the only Cardinals broadcaster celebrating 50 years in the booth. Fellow radio play-by-play voice John Rooney is also in his 50th year of broadcasting, and on Wednesday, Busch Stadium honored him for his recent admission into the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.