Aside from having nine kids by eight different women, one of the biggest criticisms of the modern-day athlete is that they are out of touch with those who came before them.  And as a sports fan residing in St. Louis, I recently learned about a late former Cardinals player who’s legacy will be celebrated this year, but not for his athletic achievements. Instead, he’ll be celebrated for 50 years of charitable efforts.

His name is Buddy Blattner and he played for the baseball Cardinals back in the day. But he really rose to fame as one of the first athletes to transition into being a broadcaster.

From the St. Louis Browns to being the play-by-play voice of the St. Louis Hawks, ultimately becoming the the first radio/TV spokesman for the NBA. And like another recent Cardinals player, ahem, the final days of Blattner’s broadcast career were spent with the California Angels.

But when we think about all of the former athletes in today’s television and radio booths — from Al Hrabosky and Mike Shannon to Troy Aikman or Mike Ditka — the reality is that Buddy Blattner helped paved the way for all of them.

Former Blues Plager

His greatest accomplishment, however, is arguably an altogether different one. Fifty years ago he founded The Buddy Fund, which to this day — three years after his death — supplies sports equipment to St. Louis organizations helping at-risk or handicapped children including police athletic leagues, after school programs, boys & girls clubs, leagues and teams, community centers and charities for the handicapped. Run solely today by volunteers, the Buddy Fund currently works with more than 40 organizations and help 15,000 local kids annually.

“Buddy has an immensely important legacy in St. Louis sports, not only as an athlete and broadcaster, but for making it possible for the underprivileged in our region to play sports,” said Tom Twellman, the president of the Hair Saloon For Men who is the volunteer chairman of The Buddy Fund. “He was a trailblazer and we hope our 50th anniversary celebration honors him appropriately.”

This does not suck in any way, and to commemorate 50 years, on Oct. 9 the Buddy Fund will hold a 50th anniversary charity golf event that will include a St. Louis Blues roundtable featuring Chris Kerber, Darren Pang, John Kelly, Kelly Chase, and Bob Plager — and moderated by JoeSportsFan’s Josh Bacott.

To participate — and help properly celebrate Blattner’s legacy and raise funds for St. Louis-area organizations — join the Buddy Fund October 9 for its 50th anniversary celebration at Whitmoor Country Club — sign up at BuddyFund.org/golf. Registration starts at 11am, golf at noon, and the Blues roundtable follows. The cost is $250 per golfer.

You’re welcome.

 

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