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Cards Caravan - Jan. 2101/09/2008 12:45 PM ET
By Ben Chiswick / Quad Cities River Bandits
Former Quad Cities standouts Joe Mather and Aaron Miles highlight the list of current members of the St. Louis Cardinals organization that will join the Cardinals Caravan trip to Modern Woodmen Park for a Martin Luther King Day luncheon at Noon on January 21.
Earlier in the week, the River Bandits announced that former players Kerry Robinson and Scott Cooper would be attending the event, which will be emceed by play-by-play personality Dan McLaughlin. On Wednesday, they announced that Mather, Aaron Miles, Tyler Johnson, and Brian Barden would also be making the trip.
The event will feature a mix of current and former St. Louis Cardinals players and will give River Bandits fans the opportunity to meet Cardinals greats past and present, receive autographs, win Cardinals and River Bandits memorabilia, and enjoy a full lunch in Modern Woodmen Park's suite banquet area.
"We are pleased that the Quad Cities River Bandits are welcoming the St. Louis Cardinals and our caravan to their city," said Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak. "We recognize that there are a lot of great Cardinals fans in the Quad Cities and feel that it's important to reach them on a personal level. We look forward to seeing them out there."
Mather, 25, burst onto the Cardinals' major league radar with a breakout season in 2007 that saw the powerful 1B/OF launch 31 homers and drive in 77 runs between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. The season began with a .303 batting average and 18 longballs in just 64 games with Springfield, and ended with his addition to the Cardinals 40-man roster. The former third-round pick spent the 2005 season with the Swing of the Quad Cities, swatting nine home runs with 33 RBI in just 54 games.
Miles, now an established major league infielder, spent the 1997-98 seasons with the original Quad City River Bandits, then a Houston Astros affiliate. He hit a combined .253 during those seasons, scoring 97 runs with 35 doubles and 46 stolen bases on his way to an eventual big-league debut with the White Sox in 2003. The 31-year-old from California has spent the last two of his five seasons in the majors with St. Louis, including a .290 batting average in 2007.
Johnson, a 26-year-old from Columbia, Missouri, has appeared in 116 games over the last three seasons as a crucial lefty reliever in the Cardinals bullpen. While he has gone 3-5 with a 4.32 ERA during the regular season over that span, Johnson put together an impressive 3-0 record to go along with a 1.23 ERA in 10 post-season appearances that led to a World Series victory in 2006. The southpaw's best minor league season came in the Midwest League as a member of the Peoria Chiefs in 2002, when he went 15-3 with a 2.00 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 121.1 innings.
Barden joins the Caravan as a new addition to the Cardinals' organization. Boasting a .296 batting average through six minor league seasons, Barden made his big league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 after spending the previous two seasons with their Triple-A affiliate. St. Louis was able to claim him off waivers on August 13, and the Oregon State product went 5-for-23 with the Cardinals over 15 games.
Tickets will cost $15 for this year's Cardinals Caravan, and can be purchased by calling the River Bandits front office at (563) 324-3000 or by visiting the Modern Woodmen Park Box Office.
"The Cardinals Caravan coming here is a great example of how important the Quad Cities are to the St. Louis organization," said River Bandits' Vice President Kirk Goodman. "There are not a lot of major league teams that spend their holidays visiting their minor league affiliates, but the Cardinals know that the Quad Cities are really special."
ABOUT THE RIVER BANDITS: After an off-season full of upgrades, the Quad Cities River Bandits will open the 2008 campaign at Modern Woodmen Park on April 3! Merchandise featuring the new team name and logo is currently available by visiting the Modern Woodmen Park team store, and season ticket packages, mini-packages, and the all-new "You Pick 10" pack are on sale at the park or by calling (563) 324-3000!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.