What an incredible story from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. There are no doubt similar stories of players helping players across all the teams, but I’m partial towards the Cardinals. This makes me an even bigger fan of Wainwright’s.
JUPITER, Fla. • Cardinals lefty Ryan Sherriff has not had the photo on his driver’s license changed since he was 16 years old, and he adores it still because “it is probably the ugliest picture known to man.” So when a team employee came to him Wednesday and asked repeatedly for it, he immediately became suspicious.
There had to be a prank afoot.
He spent most of the game waiting for the picture from his license to pop up on the scoreboard, or to appear somewhere else that would get a laugh.
“I’m just hanging out, didn’t know anything,” Sherriff said. “Everyone was asking me, ‘What is going on? Did you get drug-tested or something? Are you getting traded or something?’ I started putting things together.”
Someone needed the license because they had realized he didn’t.
And Adam Wainwright wanted to correct that.
Every day this spring, Sherriff has made the 10- to 15-minute walk from the condo he’s renting to the ballpark. He then walks back after workouts. Unless he needs groceries. Then he walks the 10 minutes, 15 minutes in the other direction to go get groceries. On his walk early Wednesday morning, a teammate noticed Sherriff and realized that, yes, he had seen the same person making the same walk the previous two days. Each time he saw Sherriff he was further away from the ballpark, so his condo had to be a hike. So, Wainwright asked.
“Do you walk here every morning?”
“Yeah, every morning I walk,” Sherriff said.
“How do you go and get food and stuff?”
“I walk. I walk everywhere.”
“Do you want a bike?” Wainwright asked.
“No, thank you. I appreciate it.”
“Do you want a car?”
“No, thank you. I appreciate it.”
Sherriff, 26, is in major-league spring training as a non-roster invitee and trying to establish himself on the depth chart for a midseason callup if a reliever is needed. He declined an invite to pitch for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic in order to spend more time in big-league camp and further establish himself. The lefty went 7-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 49 appearances for Class AAA Memphis last season, and that was good enough to earn an invitation to the Arizona Fall League. Sherriff (pronounced like the law enforcement official) did well enough there, but not enough to earn a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Cardinals’ depth on the left side of the bullpen is depleted. Tyler Lyons (knee) will face hitters for the first time next week. Marco Gonzales (elbow) is weeks away from doing the same. Dean Kiekhefer and Tim Cooney were snatched off waivers by Seattle and Cleveland, respectively. The Cardinals healthiest, highest-rated lefty is Austin Gomber, and he’s likely ticketed for Class AA Springfield’s rotation. Sherriff offers an option should the bullpen need a lefty.
And, now, he’ll no longer have to walk to work.
Why a team employee needed his license was never explained until later in the day, when Sherriff’s phone rang. It was, he said, from a St. Louis area code. One of the clubbies was calling to tell him a Nissan Altima rental car had been delivered for him at the ballpark, all expenses paid.
“Waino got me a rental car,” Sherriff explained. “I freaked out a little bit. I started crying. I called my mom, and she started crying. Really, I’ve never had that experience. No one has ever done something so nice for me before.”
Wainwright considered it a chance to pass on past gestures. When he was a young player, Wainwright came into the clubhouse with the same collared shirts several days in row. Mark Mulder, a teammate at the time, left a box of brand new shirts for him at his locker.
“That’s the kind of thing that happened to me when I was younger,” Wainwright said. “Many many many things like that happened to me. You just kind of pass that stuff on.”
Sherriff wanted to repay the generosity.
With his new Altima nearby, the lefty called up Wainwright’s Twitter page and read the righthander’s bio. In it, “@UncleCharlie50” professes a love for Chick-Fil-A, sweet tea, and barbecue sauce. Sherriff decided he would get a gift bag, a Thank You card, and sign a baseball for Wainwright. He signed his name on the sweet spot, adding a heart on the end of it. Everything else he had to get from outside the clubhouse. He purchased for Wainwright three of his favorite things: a $20 gift card to Chick-Fil-A, a jug of sweet iced tea, and barbecue sauce*.
* UPDATE: Sherriff meant to get BBQ sauce but, he explained in the thank you, accidentally bought A1 steak sauce. “Made it even better,” Wainwright said.
Those gifts weren’t all available within walking distance.
That’s OK. Now Sherriff had a ride.