A Cardinal's Perch to Preach - St. Louis Cardinals' Christian Day at the Ballpark Event

This story appears in the special 2018 MLB Faith Events issue of Sports Spectrum Magazine. Support our ministry and subscribe here.

Christian Day in St. Louis is nearly 30 years strong

St. Louis Cardinals fan Judy Boen had a wild idea in 1990: One day at Busch Stadium, underprivileged kids would be able to attend a baseball game and hear the Gospel of Christ from players and coaches.

So she took that dream to her husband and church leaders, who encouraged her to meet with the Cardinals. What birthed out of the meeting turned into one of the longest-running events in the Midwest. 

“A group [called Christian Family Day, led by Boen] approached the Cardinals and wanted to do a ticket sales initiative that included a postgame sort of outreach event,” said Cardinals Director of Ticket Sales & Marketing Martin Coco.

What started in 1991 has become Christian Day at the Ballpark, one of the Cardinals’ most consistent annual events. Fans stick around after the final pitch is thrown to hear about the love of Jesus Christ through the testimonies of players and coaches.

“It means the world to me because it’s one time a year where we can bring a lot of the players, as well as the fans, and go out there and just have a moment with Jesus and just learn more about His Word,” Cardinals pitcher Luke Weaver says.

The event these days is emceed by former Cardinals pitcher and broadcaster Ricky Horton, and players and manager Mike Matheny take several minutes to speak about how Christ has impacted their lives. 

“The platform that you’re blessed with [can be used] to hopefully inspire or motivate or just to spread some joy to any fan that’s listening,” Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter says.

RELATED: Gateway to Faith in St. Louis

World Series heroes Lance Berkman and David Eckstein, and NFL legends Tony Dungy, Mike Singletary and Kurt Warner have headlined in the past. Occasionally, the keynote speaker will stretch beyond sports to believers such as Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson or former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the inspiration behind the movie “Lone Survivor.” 

“We try to get a dynamic speaker every year and that’s what we’ve found has been the biggest draw,” Coco says. “To bring people to the game and to keep people here afterwards is a speaker with a faith-based message that has a broad appeal.”

Generally 15,000 to 20,000 fans stay in attendance for the event. But one year, the numbers were dramatically cut for an understandable reason. In 2015, Warner was the headliner and a big crowd was expected to stay afterwards, but the game went 18 innings and lasted almost six hours. Nonetheless, several thousand fans waited through the extra baseball and braved the heat to hear from the former St. Louis Rams quarterback.

In 2018, another St. Louis great will highlight Christian Day as current coach and former player Willie McGee will be the keynote speaker. And fans of all ages will be treated to a memorable night full of faith, and of course, baseball.

“It’s really special for sure. It’s really great to be able to let your voice be heard — more importantly let the Gospel be heard,” Carpenter says.

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