Cardinals Care, the charitable foundation of the St. Louis Cardinals, announced an expanded partnership with St. Louis-based Rawlings Sporting Goods to benefit area kids.

As part of the partnership with Rawlings, Cardinals Care is launching a “Rawlings Replay” program that encourages fans to donate new and gently-used baseball and softball equipment at special bins located throughout Busch Stadium during the 2011 season. All donations received as part of the season-long program, which will formally launch on Opening Day March 31, 2011, will go to support Cardinals Care's flagship Redbird Rookies program and other St. Louis children's charities. The equipment will then be distributed to local youth organizations to benefit disadvantaged kids.

Redbird Rookies operates free baseball and softball leagues for kids ages 5 to 13 who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play. These special leagues, sponsored by Cardinals Care, provides kids with free uniforms, gloves, bats, balls, and other equipment, as well as off-field support in areas of health, education, mentoring and cultural arts. Currently Redbird Rookies has twenty leagues serving nearly 4,000 kids in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, as well as rural parts of Missouri and Illinois.

“Rawlings stepped up to the plate when we launched Redbird Rookies in 2004 and they have been an outstanding partner,” said Michael Hall, Vice President of Cardinals Care and Community Relations. “We are very excited about their expanded commitment to help kids in our community.” As part of the expanded partnership, Rawlings will sponsor the 2011 Cardinals Crew Kids Club. The Kids Club is in its 11th year and this season features Ryan Franklin as its official spokesman. This will mark the first year that Rawlings will participate as the lead sponsor of the Club in which 6,800 kids took part in 2010.

“Rawlings core focus is enabling more kids to play and enjoy the game of baseball,” said Kurt Hunzeker, Senior Director of Brand Marketing for Rawlings. “Based on our long-standing partnership with the Cardinals and our commitment to the St. Louis community, we feel that sponsoring the Cardinals Crew Kids Club really activates our Cardinals Care efforts and provides a perfect launching pad for the Rawlings Replay cause initiative.”

Membership for the Cardinals Crew Kids Club presented by Rawlings Sporting Goods is $25 and includes two Cardinals tickets, a Cardinals duffel bag, a Ryan Franklin look-alike, stick-on beard and a Ryan Franklin bobblehead toothbrush holder, as well as an invitation to a member's only autograph party at Busch Stadium and more. Fans can purchase memberships and obtain more information at

All fans that donate an item to the “Rawlings Replay” will receive a 10 percent discount on quality Rawlings products at Rawlings will also offer an additional 10 percent off select items to Kids Club members.

Since its inception in 1997, Cardinals Care has distributed more than $16 million to area children's organizations.