DeJong making most of Big Mac Land homer

Cardinals shortstop buys broken 'M' to benefit charity

September 17th, 2019

ST. LOUIS --  will not be able to fit anything in the back of his truck for the time being. He has a huge sign -- the “M” from Big Mac Land at Busch Stadium -- sitting there, waiting for a new home.

DeJong busted that sign with a home run off Brewers reliever Devin Williams on Aug. 19, and it had to be taken down to get repaired, turning the section into "Big ac" Land. But DeJong’s agent, Burton Rocks, and his mom, Andrea, put a plan in motion before the repairs were started. DeJong wanted to take the fun event and turn it into something special.

This week, DeJong purchased the letter for $22,000. Half of the money will go to Cardinals Care and the other half will go to the Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis.

“I know how much good they do for the community and for families that are in need,” DeJong said. “I got the opportunity to go over there [Tuesday] and see what they do and how they contribute. I got to meet some families and some kids. It just shows how much more there is to baseball than sometimes it may seem to me. I’m really happy to give back to this community and some families that need help.”

Because the "M" needed a repair, the Cardinals decided that the rest of the letters needed repairs, too. The Ronald McDonald House will be auctioning off those letters sometime in the offseason to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis.

DeJong hopes this is only the beginning of his association with the Ronald McDonald House. He wants to continue his work with them, starting with his next activity -- helping in the kitchen and cooking meals with other volunteers.

“I’ve been looking for ways to give back in the community, and this kind of just happened,” DeJong said. “I feel like it was meant to be, and [I'm] just going to continue to show my support for the Ronald McDonald House. ... St. Louis has given so much to me, and I feel like I definitely need to give back. Just try to work that in as much as I can from now on.”

As for the "M," it’ll sit in his truck until he can bring it to Wisconsin, where he has extended family members already planning to bring the sign on a tour around their towns.

“It’s surprisingly light with how big it is, but it’s cool to see all the dust and the dirt on it,” DeJong said. “It’s definitely the authentic one. The ball is still in there, broken plexiglass. Just a unique piece that I’m happy to have procured.

“I know all my family members up there are already planning the tour, like the Stanley Cup. We’ll have to maybe find a restoration expert or maybe one of my uncles can get it working again. It’d be cool to see it lit up again.”

DeJohn retires with players surrounding him

Mark DeJohn, the Cardinals’ Minor League field coordinator, threw out the first pitch for his retirement ceremony Monday night at Busch Stadium, but it wasn’t like any other first pitch. DeJohn had most of the Cardinals players and coaches surrounding him as he took the mound, which manager Mike Shildt said was a testament to the impact that DeJohn had on the organization.

DeJohn spent 33 years in the organization, including the last 10 as the Minor League field coordinator. He’s had a role developing every player and coach that’s come through the Cardinals’ system in the last three decades.

“I don’t know how really to describe the impact that Mark DeJohn had on this organization,” Shildt said on Monday. “But we have Mr. [George] Kissell that we hold in the highest esteem, Dave Ricketts that we hold in the highest esteem as well, people like that. Those guys are on the Mt. Rushmore, and DJ has carved out a place for himself, as well, in my world and a lot of people’s worlds.

"The thing about unbelievable careers like DJ's wrapping up is the fact that he has a legacy that’s residual. There’s a lot of people in this clubhouse and in our Minor League system and in the general public that played for him that still carry on, and are better people by being touched by him. So I just want to make sure we give him a little tip of the hat.”