Pacific, MO – Usually, for Kyle Gibson of the Minnesota Twins, it’s about pitching – not hitting.
“But today, I couldn’t hit a thing.” Gibson said with a sheepish smile.
On a brisk Saturday morning in Missouri, the objects needing to be hit were clay targets, not baseballs.
Gibson’s first annual Big League Blast event took place at the St. Louis Skeet and Trap Club on November 3rd to benefit his campaign with Crisis Aid International to feed 100 families living below the poverty line in the South St. Louis area. The funds raised—through team and individual entry fees, an auction, a raffle, and tickets to participate in a flurry shoot—all went towards this effort.
“Every one of these families is in great need,” said Crisis Aid founder Pat Bradley. “Every one of them is below the poverty level. Our goal today is to raise the funds to support them for the next eight months.”
A serious aim. For a day filled with fun.
And Gibson might have had more fun than anyone… watching people have fun.
“We had people here who had never shot a gun before. People who didn’t know what a clay pigeon was,” he said. “But ultimately, everyone had a lot of fun, learned to shoot, met some ballplayers, and won some great prizes—all for a cause we care deeply about. Elizabeth and I know that food and education are two things that go hand in hand in helping lift people out of poverty. If a student has the ability to go to school but can’t focus because they’re so hungry, education itself isn’t a guarantee. If we’re able to help give a little bit of stability at home and around their diet so their biggest worry isn’t where their next meal comes from, that’s where we want to help.”
Fans from the St. Louis area donated to the effort for the privilege of teaming with a number of Gibson’s friends from around the majors—including Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, Adam LaRoche, Shane Robinson, and Zach Duke—to tackle a challenging sporting clays course.
“This is not easy,” proclaimed Trevor Rosenthal – newly signed by the Washington Nationals.
Not for some. But one familiar family to Cardinals fans walked away with the day’s high honors.
Former Cards Manager Mike Matheny and his sons were the clear champions among the teams competing.
“They were flat-out amazing,” said Gibson.
Even more amazing were Gibson’s previously unknown skills as an auctioneer. After a great meal, Gibson took the microphone, and with the help of a young fan, continued to drive the bids higher for the donated auction items, including luxury weekend trips, hunting gear, autographed jerseys and bats, and a unique painting of Mike Matheny – finished on site, and autographed by Matheny himself.
Gibson’s wife Elizabeth—who handled much of the planning and logistics of this first-year event—agreed, “We heard so many people say they’re looking forward to next year’s event. We’re really looking forward to it.”
“I’ll just need to step my game up,” Kyle Gibson said.
“Yeah, you will,” Lance Lynn of the Yankees replied.
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You can still give to help this effort: https://bigleagueimpact.org/donate?c=2770
Learn more about Crisis Aid: www.crisisaid.org