This All-Star SS is ready to help you homeschool

DeJong sharing his love of science and math on social media

April 22nd, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- After finished the housekeeping tasks that came with moving into his St. Louis apartment this weekend, he sat down Monday night to dive back into reading.

He picked up a few architecture books, the latest subject DeJong has taken an interest in -- he wants to design a cabin in the future, and the first step is learning all he can about it.

With baseball on hold and DeJong in "January mode" with his baseball activity, the Cardinals shortstop is using the time in between his workouts to learn as much as he can about his interests -- more than he would during the season, at least.

He's hoping kids are, too.

DeJong launched an education initiative Wednesday to encourage kids to keep learning at home by showing how baseball and science are connected. In his introductory video, DeJong encourages kids to submit videos with their baseball-related science questions. He'll pick some to answer on social media, and in the next few weeks, he said he will send those kids his three special Topps baseball cards that were made this year. Those cards promote academics, science and literacy and the baseball card manufacturer's "Topps of the Class" program.

On two of the cards, DeJong is sporting a lab coat to promote science, and on the third, he's leaning against the dugout railing with his agent, Burton Rocks, to promote literacy. During Spring Training, DeJong passed out the cards to kids at the ballpark and other appearances he made in Jupiter, Fla.

With social distancing measures in place, DeJong still wants to interact with kids and promote what's on the cards.

"I'm excited to see how it goes and the interactions of the participants, that'll be what excites me the most," DeJong said. "Just hearing the curiosity from the kids. I don't know what kind of interactions we're going to have, but I really like the Topps program to make a baseball card, to have baseball in the name, and then to have some academics in there. That's really cool, and it'll hopefully broaden the fan horizon for the sport and for hopefully my brand and people around me."

"Topps of the Class" has long offered free packs to students who present their report card at a participating hobby shop. The exclusive cards that DeJong distributes were the brainchild of Topps and Rocks, DeJong's agent. The idea is to encourage kids to follow their dreams and instill the value of education through everyone's favorite collectible.

"Just want to advocate for education in general," DeJong said. "Education was a big part of my upbringing, so I just value it. I want to make sure I use my position as a community athlete in St. Louis to be able to advocate for those things so that kids who might be on the fence about sports but still like St. Louis can get behind me for other reasons."

Over his three years in the Majors, DeJong has searched for ways to merge his academic hobbies with his profession. Before establishing himself as a starter and becoming an All-Star last year, he attended Illinois State University and majored in biochemistry, thinking he might want to pursue medical school if baseball wasn't available to him as a career. The back of one of his cards explains how his "childhood love of science came from his grandmother, Sharon Whipple, a chemist and University of Wisconsin grad, who worked at Dow Chemical."

But DeJong's science background and value in education hasn't left him on the baseball field. He and Dr. Lawrence Rocks, a renowned scientist and father of DeJong's agent, have met in the lab to run experiments on baseball-related things, such as how the elasticity of a baseball reacts to changes in air temperatures. DeJong reads a ton about the things that interest him, like architecture and magnet therapy.

All of these things have been part of DeJong's journey to blend his interests with his career and role in the community. And while he can't hand out these cards to kids face-to-face yet, the social media videos will still allow him to share his interests and advocate for education.

"Discipline is discipline whether you're putting it into education or sports or yourself, whatever it is," DeJong said. "When you value education and put hard work into your schoolwork and learning, those skills stay with you when you want to apply it to something else. Whatever it is in life, you can go out there and get it with enough attention and willpower.

"Opportunity obviously plays into as well, but I just want to teach kids that those ways of going the extra mile will pay off. Just advocating as a whole for diving in 100 percent."