Cardinals pitch in for Cuban players
Peewee team donating baseball equipment and school supplies during Goodwill Tour of Cuba
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 06:00 am
The St. Albert Cardinals fly to Cuba on Friday with suitcases full of baseball equipment and school supplies for players on the northern Caribbean island.
A school in Varadero will also benefit from the act of kindness during the third annual Goodwill Tour of Cuba by a peewee team representing the St. Albert Minor Baseball Association.
“From what I hear they’re pretty poor so we’ll bring stuff to help them,” said 12-year-old Logan Blumhagen. “It just feels real good to help people like that.”
The roster of 10 Cardinals, three coaches and one bat boy, plus the parents of the players, raised money through bottle drives, a silent auction pub night, the sale of raffle tickets for two people to join the Cardinals in Cuba – along with corporate and individual sponsorship and contributions – to make the sporting and cultural event a reality.
“We worked good as a team to get the money,” said Blumhagen.
The first baseman and southpaw pitcher was one of six Cardinals who played peewee AA last year for head coach Dave Beattie. The SAMBA vice-president was also a coach with the 2004 and 2008 Goodwill Tours.
“I’m real excited to go. I haven’t really travelled anywhere before,” Blumhagen said.
The Cardinals will also play three games against teams of the same age group in Varadero, Matanzas and Havana.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not many people get to do this,” said 11-year-old Max Kahler.
His biggest concern is going from the snow and cold of St. Albert to the tropical paradise.
“We have to get used to the weather first of all. It’s minus 30 here and it’s plus 20 there, so you have to stay hydrated and go out and just play ball,” Kahler said.
There is no home-field advantage for the Cardinals in the hotbed of baseball.
“We don’t know what kind of competition we’re going to be coming up against but I think all we want to do is really have fun,” said Blumhagen, a Grade 7 Richard S. Fowler student.
“Lots of players in the major leagues have come out of places like that, so they’re probably going to have some good teams down there,” Kahler added. “I don’t think there really is a goal for us, just play hard and see the smiles on their faces when get down there and give them school supplies and the equipment.”
The Cardinals spent the winter months training indoors in preparation for their Cuba debut.
“We still did everything we need to do outdoors. We hit, we fielded, we pitched and we catched,” said Kahler, a pitcher, catcher and shortstop for the mosquito AA Cardinals last year.
The Grade 6 Sir Alexander Mackenzie student is confident the Cardinals will play like a team that’s been together on the diamond before.
“It should be pretty easy. It’s a team game and we all know each other. We’re all friends,” Kahler said.