It’s what we’re thinking about this time of year as we’re set to celebrate Thanksgiving on Nov. 25. It’s also on the mind of former St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter.
Carpenter has reason to be bitter — the Cardinals declined the option in his contract Nov. 4, making him a free agent. The 35-year-old has stated that he wants to play another year somewhere. He readily admits that over the past couple years he hasn’t performed to expectations.
That brought complaints from some Cardinals fans and media members who saw him as a detriment to the team. Their comments often were hurtful and downright mean. You have a beef with team management’s decisions about who to play, as I certainly do sometimes, that’s one thing. But it’s another when it gets personal in denigrating a person who’s obviously trying hard but isn’t producing to his and others’ satisfaction.
Yet Carpenter responded with appreciation for his years as a Cardinal. He noted that he’s received numerous thank-you messages, and he’s welcomed them. He wrote in The Players Tribune, “I’m the one that should be saying thank you. Y’all are who need to be thanked. I’m the one who is filled with nothing but overwhelming gratitude.”
Carpenter was a 13th-round draft pick as a fifth-year senior at Texas Christian University in Austin in 2009. His career soared once he joined the Major League team, a three-time All-Star who earned votes for N.L. Most Valuable Player three times, finishing as high as fourth in 2013, when he led the Majors in runs (126), hits (199) and doubles (55) with a .318 average.
He’s always been humble. Carpenter grew up in a Christian home, but was inactive in his faith in his early years in college. He returned to it and eventually, as he said in a video from The Increase, he realized that following God doesn’t guarantee that everything will go as we want.
The game of baseball and life, he said, “you have no control over. All I have is my faith. If you’re looking for some solid ground, some rock to hold onto there’s only one way. And that’s through Him.”
In St. Louis, Carpenter led the Homers for Health campaign that raises funds for SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
He’s also been a supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. At a fundraising event for the fellowship earlier this month, Carpenter stated that baseball doesn’t define him and how his contentment must be in Christ alone, no matter the circumstances. His wife, Mackenzi, agreed: “Playing baseball is what he does, it is not who he is. He is a Christian, a father, a husband, and a son.”
Saint Louis University’s men’s soccer team made a splash in the news with an undefeated regular season and then winning the conference championship. Six players attended Catholic high schools in the archdiocese —A.J. Palazzolo, Nick Faddis, Jack Mika, Brogan Townsend, Donny Ross and Max Dattoli.
Less reported was SLU’s women’s soccer team, which exploded for three second-half goals Nov. 7 and defeated fourth-seeded Massachusetts 4-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference Women’s Soccer Championship. The Billikens, at that point, won eight of their last nine games, and became the first A-10 women’s soccer team to capture four consecutive A-10 championship titles. Then, Nov. 9, SLU scored a 2-1 victory over No. 17 Ole Miss in an NCAA Championship first-round game.
Five players attended Catholic high schools in the archdiocese — Jess Preusser, Karsen Kohl, Emily Puricelli, Emily Groark and Lyndsey Heckel.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.