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Virtual Visit From a Cardinals Ace

Jack Flaherty Brings Smiles to Children at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital

In a year in which physical presence has too often been replaced by sometimes fuzzy images of loved ones near and far, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty came through crystal clear Friday afternoon.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tall, baby-faced right-hander was unable to come into Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis as he has in years past, but instead visited with kids via Zoom from his California home. Though clad in a gray T-shirt and a maroon hat instead of his Cardinals gear, the easy-going 25-year-old brought smiles to those he talked with – even those for whom baseball was a mystery.

Two youngsters, one from the African nation of Burkina Faso and another from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, were at the hospital for physical therapy after recent leg procedures. Though unfamiliar with Flaherty, the Cardinals and baseball itself, the duo smiled shyly as Flaherty told them of his admiration for their courage.

A stop in the room of another patient, a San Francisco Giants fan, brought out the typical ribbing between supporters of different clubs, as Flaherty said he wasn’t sorry she was being given Cardinals swag instead of that from her own team.

Flaherty talked about the strangeness of the 2020 baseball season and how Busch Stadium just wasn’t the same without the legions of fans that typically pack the stands. When another patient said he was more of a soccer supporter, Flaherty switched gears and discussed the famed teams from Europe with ease.

All the while, Laura Teague, senior recreational therapist at the hospital, wheeled the Zoom-connected monitor on a cart up and down the hallways of the hospital’s three floors and into the different patient areas, moderating the sometimes awkward talks that have become commonplace as people adapt to communicating in a different way.

Flaherty’s virtual visit was part of an outreach by his organization to the St. Louis Shriners Hospital that included donations of Yadier Molina pillows, Fredbird toys and Cardinals cups to the children and staff.

Flaherty and patient during Zoom call

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