Paul Goldschmidt and his wife, Amy, used to frequent visiting hours at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital so much that the hospital thought it was easiest for all parties to grant the Goldschmidts a permanent pass, putting them through the training process to become full-fledged volunteers.
The pandemic has mostly washed away the opportunity for the Goldschmidts to visit those pediatric patients as often -- not to mention the distance he now faces by playing for St. Louis. But with his outreach spread to a new city, he finds the chances to make an impact: via virtual visits, with gifts and by raising awareness of causes.
It’s these efforts and far more that have Goldschmidt serving as the Cardinals’ 2021 Roberto Clemente Award nominee, the sixth time in his career having been nominated for baseball’s prestigious honor.
“It's a huge honor,” Goldschmidt said. “[Clemente’s] legacy -- everyone in the game knows it and a lot of people outside the game [too], both what he did both on and off the field, especially off the field, just really caring and loving on people. … It means a lot, just thankful for it.”
Charitable efforts with pediatric patients were the Goldschmidts’ gateway into philanthropic giving as adults -- “You got innocent kids who are so young. I still think of myself as a big kid,” Goldschmidt said -- after such acts were ingrained into Paul as a kid.
It was important to Goldschmidt’s parents that Paul and his two younger brothers got involved in their community, just outside of Houston. One of Paul’s first endeavors was volunteering with his high school baseball team on Saturday mornings, conducting drills and scrimmages for kids with mental and physical disabilities.
“It’s crazy. You're a high school baseball player, but the kids were looking up to you,” Goldschmidt said. “To see what impact you could have with a little bit of your time and honestly not that much effort, it kind of opened my mind up.”
And they have led to some of the following acts of giving, with his platform elevated:
• Donating to faith-based nonprofit Convoy of Hope last year in the form of a full tractor-trailer of food and supplies that were distributed in St. Louis
• Founding Goldy’s Fund 4 Kids, the crux of his giving in Arizona
• Supporting Athletes for Justice nonprofit, donating to a project in Chicago that opened a food market in a “food desert” neighborhood
• Committing $500 per win this season and $5,000 per postseason win to build a community center in the Dominican Republic with Food for the Hungry nonprofit
“Stats go up and down, there's competition out there. But the things that you really have control over are how you treat other people, what kind of impact you can have,” Goldschmidt said. “No one can take that away from you.”
Winning the Roberto Clemente Award would not be an aberration in St. Louis. The organization has made it a priority to conduct small acts of charity on a routine basis, as evident in Goldy’s Golden Ticket program, which brings deserving kids to games and gives them a personal visit from Goldschmidt during batting practice. Several other Cardinals have their own iteration of the program, which has brought hundreds of kids to Busch Stadium this season.
What’s more, the Cards have the reigning Roberto Clemente Award winner in their clubhouse. Adam Wainwright received the honor last season for his work with Big League Impact, a nonprofit that connects big leaguers to charitable causes -- a cohort Goldschmidt is a part of. Yadier Molina also won the award in 2018 for his work in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. All told, six Cardinals have taken home the honor -- the most of any franchise.
And Goldschmidt would be as deserving as any.
“You end up getting nominated for our representative out of our clubhouse, it's saying something,” said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. “We got a bunch of high-character guys, but Goldy's right at the top of that list.”