Not long after Adam Wainwright earned his third win of the year over the Washington Nationals, the Big League Impact founder was featured on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
Wainwright talked about Big League Impact’s roots as a fantasy football fundraiser, and how we’ve grown from there. The Cardinals pitcher had run golf tournaments in years past, and in 2013 saw fantasy football as a unique opportunity.
“I was standing in the outfield one day with Skip Schumaker and a couple other guys, and I said, ‘Man, why don’t we do a fantasy football fundraiser?’” Wainwright told ESPN. “It was just a jumping off point for doing something fun for fans, doing something fun for our players, something that was unique and different, and it was a good experience. It was something we were gonna do anyway, so we might as well raise money doing it.”
Starting with a fantasy football fundraiser, involving fans and teammates, we’ve grown exponentially, as players from teams all over Major League Baseball have joined in.
Wainwright, now in his 14th season with St. Louis, started advising teammates and other players about how to get charities and nonprofits going.
“Charity is very important to me — it’s something that I think about constantly,” Wainwright said. “What we want to do at Big League Impact, one of our biggest missions now is empowering other players to go out into their communities and into the world and do what they feel like means something to them. Something that hits home.”
Wainwright and BLI talk with MLB athletes, learning about causes that are close to their hearts, then figure out the best way to partner to do the most good. We’ve aligned with players who have their own foundations — like Kingdom Home, by Detroit Tiger Matt Boyd & his wife Ashley — as well as those who want to contribute to existing charities. Some athletes have pledged money per appearance, strikeout or stolen base, tying off-field impact to on-field results.