Right off the bat (pun slightly intended) I want to be clear about one thing...I am a lifelong, die-hard, true blue Chicago Cubs fan. If you don't know the significance of that statement, in relation to this story, let me explain - the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry is one of the longest and most heated in all of sports. Having said that, I'm willing to put my disdain for the Red Birds aside temporarily because A) I'm a pro, that's what I do, and B) this is a pretty friggin' cool story that deserves to be shared.

Do you ever wonder what Major League Baseball players do during the off-season? You can only spend so much time in a day getting ready for the upcoming season, so you gotta find something to do with your time. For St. Louis Cardinals outfielder, Harrison Bader, that meant surprising some kids with a day they will never forget and helping his community at the same time.

Bader recognized the teacher shortage in Missouri and he wanted to do something about it. He contacted Senator Brian Williams, who contacted Meramec Elementary School (located in Clayton, MO, about 10 miles from Busch Stadium) principal Patrick Fisher. Next thing you know, the big league center fielder was heading back to school - this time as a substitute teacher. The school was actually in need of a P.E. teacher, so this was a perfect fit. According to Principal Fisher, Bader hung out with the kids, learned a new game from them, and autographed a bunch of gear before class was over.

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Principal Fisher says that Bader's visit was "just a way to boost morale for the kids to have a lot of fun and make some memories." He wants to encourage more adults to "reach out to their local schools and see what they can do to help out because it’s a widespread issue."

So for now, Harrison Bader, I stand and applaud your efforts - you gave those kiddos something they will never forget. But just know that when springtime rolls around I'll be rocking my Cubs gear and hoping to see you strike out and drop those easy cans of corn in center (assuming we even have an MLB season). No hard feelings, right?

[h/t wishtv.com]

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