The St. Louis Cardinals Caravan will make its annual trip to Springfield on Friday, January 12. The Caravan will be held at Hammons Field in the Indoor Training Facility and is scheduled to start at 12:15 pm. Lunch will be available for purchase at the event. Doors will open at 11:30 am, so please dress accordingly for the weather if you are planning to arrive before then.
This year’s attendees will feature 2017 St. Louis Cardinals and former Springfield Cardinals INF Greg Garcia and INF Alex Mejia, as well as current St. Louis Cardinals RHP John Gant. Former St. Louis Cardinals Tom Lawless and Kyle McClellan will also be a part of the Caravan. KMOX Sports Director Tom Ackerman will serve as the emcee for the event.
A member of the 2012 Texas League Championship team in Springfield, Garcia has been an invaluable utility infielder ever since debuting with St. Louis on April 28, 2014. Through 295 career games, Garcia has compiled a .257 average with seven home runs and 42 RBIs while tallying 140 hits and 69 runs. With a knack for the big moment, Garcia led the Cardinals in 2017 with 63 pinch-hit plate appearances and has gone 26×93 (.280 average) as a pinch hitter through the last three seasons. In a career-high 133 games last year, Garcia hit .253 with two home runs, 27 runs, 20 RBIs and a career-best 61 hits.
After parts of four seasons as a Springfield Cardinal, Mejia made his Major League Debut with St. Louis on June 29, 2017 and recorded his first Major League home run in his second career start just two days later. After hitting .251 with 17 doubles, three home runs, 24 runs and 24 RBIs over 63 games with Springfield last season, Mejia got the call to AAA-Memphis, where he posted a career-best .335/.381/.466 batting line in 55 games. The veteran infielder has been a defensive mainstay at shortstop throughout the Cardinals system after wrapping up a decorated collegiate career at the University of Arizona that culminated with PAC-12 Conference Player of the Year and PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012.
Coming to St. Louis by way of the Atlanta Braves in a Dec. 1, 2016 trade involving former St. Louis Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia, Gant appeared in seven games for St. Louis in 2017. His second Major League season after making his debut for Atlanta in 2016, Gant posted a 4.67 ERA and struck out 11 through 17.1 innings. In 27 career big league appearances, he’s started nine games, including two for St. Louis in 2017. The bulk of Gant’s 2017 work came for the Pacific Coast League Champion Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A), where he finished 6-5 over 18 starts with a 3.83 ERA and 99 strikeouts (103.1 IP).
Lawless and McClellan both bring a wealth of experience to the Caravan roster. A member of the Cardinals World Series squads in 1985 and 1987, Lawless is well-remembered for his dramatic game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. McClellan, who made 17 starts during the Cardinals Championship Season in 2011, suited up with St. Louis from 2008-2012 and logged a 19-23 record with a 3.69 ERA through 261 appearances.
A familiar voice on the Cardinals Radio Network, Ackerman is Sports Director at KMOX and oversees a department that serves as the flagship station for the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. In addition to his work as a host on Cardinals broadcasts, he is also the lead sports anchor on KMOX’s “Total Information A.M.,” calls play-by-play for numerous sports and emcees a multitude of events throughout the St. Louis area.
Coinciding with the afternoon program at Hammons Field, the Springfield Cardinals will have a Garage Sale featuring jerseys, helmets, bats and many other Cardinals collectibles used by some of your favorite players here in Springfield.
Doors will open for the 2018 Cardinals Caravan at 11:30 am, with the event scheduled to run from 12:15 – 2 pm. Admission for the Cardinals Caravan is $5 for adults and $3 for kids (ages 3-12). All admission proceeds will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.
In addition to appearing at Hammons Field in the afternoon, the Caravan will also visit Mercy and Cox South Hospitals, where the players visit the pediatric ward and other areas.
On Friday evening, the Caravan will continue on to JQH Arena for the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions, presented by Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks, where the players and Cardinals staff will sign autographs. A ticket to the Tournament of Champions will be required to attend the evening autograph session at JQH Arena, and times for the signing will be announced at a later date.
As in previous years, the St. Louis Cardinals will be implementing an Autograph Ticket system at each stop of the Caravan. The first 400 kids (15 and under) through the door on the day of the event will receive a free Autograph Ticket which guarantees one autograph from each current and former player. Due to high demand, autographs will only be available for fans 15 and under.
Additionally, the Cardinals and Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance are teaming up to fight local hunger. Fans at select Caravan stops can bring a non-perishable food donation to help those in need through Feeding Missouris fine partners. Donations will be collected at all seven Missouri stops and the Quincy, Ill. stop.