Adam Wainwright is 35 years old and one of the elder statesmen in the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse this season. He also happens to be one good human being as well.
We can say that thanks to his effort with minor-league spring training invitee Ryan Sheriff, who is also vying for a role on the pitching staff this upcoming season. You see, Sheriff has been walking to the Cardinals spring training facility and Wainwright wasn’t having it.
At first Wainwright asked if Sheriff would like a bike or a car, only to have his teammate decline the offer.
He wasn’t having any of it, deciding to pick up a rental car for his fellow pitcher. It was a gesture that Sheriff certainly wasn’t expecting. Instead, when staff members began asking for his drivers license, he thought he was about to be pranked.
This according to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
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.”
While he believed a prank was coming his way in some form, it actually turned out to be one of the coolest gestures from teammate to teammate we’ve heard of this spring training. It was so unexpected that Sheriff actually broke down in tears.
“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.”
Not only did Wainwright provide a rental car for Sheriff to use, he also is picking up the tab for the remainder of spring training.
We’re guessing the few minutes ride to the ballpark beats a 10-15 minutes walk for the minor leaguer. Even if it is “just” a Nissan Altima.
But, why the gesture at all from Wainwright?
It appears it is his way of passing on a tradition that he knows personally. According to the Post-Dispatch, Wainwright was in a similar situation while trying to break in to the big leagues as well.
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.
One good deed gets passed on. While the gestures may not be grand on the scale of the multi-million dollar contracts these MLB players are earning, it is the relief provided to the one receiving the gesture that matters.
Paying it forward indeed.