Last night, and for the third consecutive season, St. Louis Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez hosted his charity bowling event at Flamingo Bowl on Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. Current teammates Aledmys Diaz, Alex Reyes (for those worried, he bowled left-handed), and Jose Martinez (and their respective families) were present to support the pitcher’s charitable cause. With home off nights followed by off days few and far between during the regular season, many of their other teammates had a prior commitment to the cowboy-themed Make A Wish benefit put on by Cardinals wives. Yet, former Cardinals, Fernando Tatis (he flew in specifically for the event) and Kerry Robinson, along with KMOX radio host Mike Claiborne, were in attendance as well. All proceeds from the night benefited Martinez’s Tsunami Waves Foundation.
Before getting into some of the night’s events, let’s first talk a little bit about Martinez’s foundation, since in the end, that is what this annual event is all about. Growing up in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, what we consider everyday items were privileges to Martinez. He lived in a very small two bedroom house — sharing one room with his two brothers, but oftentimes had to share with at least six more members of his extended family. Quality baseball equipment was rare, so he had to make due with what he could find (and even make).
Despite these obstacles, Martinez strove to make it to the big leagues, persisted, and eventually became an All-Star MLB pitcher. He has since evolved into one of the best pitchers in the game today. Yet, because of his roots, Martinez felt the need to start his foundation — to give back and to pay it forward — primarily back home in the Dominican Republic but also in his “work home” of St. Louis. The banner event of Martinez’s foundation is the collection of baseball gloves that he eventually brings down to the children of Puerto Plata for personal delivery. And this is honestly only the beginning as he, too, played an integral role in helping his city recovery from devastating foods back in November 2016. In St. Louis, on off days — again, few and far between — you’ll often find his smiling face at either an elementary school or a hospital (with a few of those visits documented here).
Keeping things fresh from last year’s event (in which he shined guests’ shoes for a donation), the night started with a fashion show, exhibiting Martinez’s clothing line, of which will eventually be available for purchase online — benefiting the foundation. Here is one of the many options, modeled by Martinez, his wife, and his children:
Being a bowling event, of course that took place the entire night (for those that bought bowling tickets, at least — which served as part of the fundraiser), but a good chunk of the donations were made in various silent and oral auctions, with five big ticket items bringing in over $7,000 alone. In my opinion, two items stood out in particular. One being the Cardinals game-used lineup card from Tsunami’s first career complete game shutout, authenticated by Major League Baseball. Honestly, that’d be amazing in already, but what truly took it over the top was the fact that each of Carlos’ teammates and Mike Matheny signed the card, making it a one-of-a-kind piece:
The oral auction closed with an etched-glass piece, specially produced by the Tsunami Waves Foundation to honor Martinez’s first notable MLB milestone of 500 career strikeouts. As you’ll see below, the piece already was amazing (completed with the custom stand and up-lighting), but using a glass engraver, Martinez added a personal touch by including his signature at the bottom. Only two of these pieces were made. One is in his house, and the other was put up for auction. If you know anything about me (a rough estimates puts 60+% of my articles being written about Carlos), you can probably guess how that bidding ended:
Bottom line, as I have written before, Carlos treats these events differently than other ones I have been to or read about. Instead of simply going through the motions, he truly gets into his foundation’s events — signing autographs and/or taking pictures the entire night. If you wanted a picture from Carlos last night, you got one. If you wanted a selfie, you probably got more than one. If you wanted a hand shake, you probably got a hug. Please visit his foundation’s website TsunamiWavesFoundation.org and consider making a donation (of any size). And if you want to make a more exciting donation, check out Martinez’s Pledge It page, where, at time of publishing, is still ~$24 short (per strikeout) of its season goal.
Find out what Martinez is up to next at @Tsunami_Waves.