The 6th Annual Big League Impact St. Louis Fantasy Football draft was held on August 31 at Busch Stadium’s Champions Club. Cardinals players Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, Carlos Martinez, Luke Weaver, and Mike Mayers hosted a group of over 50 fans for a VIP experience that helped raise over $120,000 for initiatives that support local and global humanitarian needs like food, clean water, sex trafficking, and infrastructure.
Attendees arrived at the stadium in the morning to play catch on the field, get a behind-the-scenes clubhouse and dugout tour hosted by the players, and take an official photo. Legendary St. Louis sports anchor Mike Claiborne welcomed the group at the Champions Club, and emceed the program, which featured Cardinals Care executive director Michael Hall, Crisis Aid International founder Pat Bradley, head of Striking Out Poverty Milam Byers, Water Mission‘s Scott Linebrink, and Big League Impact executive director Raymond St. Martin, who gave presentations with the players about the work the money raised accomplished.
Before kicking off the draft, Cardinals pitcher and Big League Impact founder Adam Wainwright spoke about the work that the event and organization—which he first conceived in 2013 with former Cardinal Skip Schumaker—had accomplished over the last six years. His teammates then surprised him with a birthday cake and presents, as the crowd sang to celebrate his 37th birthday.
“I just want to tell you personally that the first day we did this event six years ago is one of the highlights of my whole career,” said Wainwright, wearing a green Waino’s World t-shirt from the inaugural 2013 draft. “Besides winning the World Series, I don’t know if there’s a more rewarding day than knowing that we started something that has raised over $2.5 million, has reached so many people, saved countless lives, and made such a difference. When you see where the money goes and what it’s actually doing—not just here in St. Louis but all over the globe—it is profound.”
Each of the attendees—who donated between $2,000-$2,500 to compete in the league—received autographed baseballs, gifts from Big League Impact partner Yahoo Sports, and were given opportunities to win valuable prizes in raffles throughout the day. Players and partners donated autographed baseball cards, photos, baseball bats, jerseys, paintings, prints, and other unique items towards the raffles and a live auction that raised another $22,000 towards the projects.
Players participated in and helped lead the drafts in each of their leagues—Wacha and Flaherty on Table 1, Wainwright on Table 2, Mikolas and Martinez on Table 3, and Weaver and Mayers on Table 4. Matt Carpenter donated batches of the famous salsa that helped spark the Cardinals’ surge in 2018 for everyone to try, and with a lunch break and in-draft contests breaking up the rounds, participants were treated to a fun-filled and exciting day, finishing the event excited to continue playing against the players during the fantasy football season.
In the afternoon, the group was admitted early to the stadium for a field visit to watch the Cardinals take batting practice before returning to the Champions Club for the evening’s game. A gourmet spread of food and unlimited drinks provided the setting for a memorable night as they watched the home team rout the Cincinnati Reds, 12-5.
Wainwright made television appearances on the Fox Sports Midwest and MLB broadcasts before and after the draft to talk about Big League Impact, the event, and the loyal fans and supporters who have helped continue to make the organization’s efforts create a difference around the world.
“We have about 25 people who have been there each and every year since 2013,” he said. “Those are special people—I want to give those guys a hug every time I see them. Just to tell them the great things that they’ve been able to do with their support and money.”