DU QUOIN -- With an assist from the prankster mascot, Fredbird, former St. Louis Cardinals star pitcher and broadcaster Al Hrabosky spoke to students at Du Quoin Elementary School Tuesday, encouraging them to be responsible, be active and be themselves.
"Being a good student is like being a good teammate," Hrabosky said. "It takes a lot of hard work. If you work hard, you will be successful and your school will be, too."
Hrabosky, still sporting his trademark beard, albeit white now, and donning a Cardinals jersey with his name on the back, interacted with kindergarten and fourth-grade students in the morning session. He tossed a soft baseball back-and-forth with some youngsters and conversed with others. He was also the fall guy for Fredbird who quickly elicited cheers and squeals from the kids for his rebel behavior.
Several students were called up to participate in the team-building exercise, answering questions and being rewarded with Cardinals merchandise.
All the students wore Fredbird hats made of paper and many were dressed in red clothing in support of the Cardinals.
"I thought it was a fantastic program today," said DES Principal Diana Rea. "They got the kids excited about positive behavior and drove home pretty much the same message we do as educators each and every day."
Rea said she and secretary Tena Rennison learned about the Cardinals' outreach program for elementary schools when watching a game this past summer.
"Tena started texting me right away and encouraged me to apply online. I did and was notified in late September that they were coming. We are a little bit out of their range, but they decided to come anyway, and we really appreciate that. We have a lot of Cardinals fans here. The kids have known about this program for the last couple of weeks and were very excited to see Mr. Hrabosky and Fredbird here today."