Hey, St. Louis.
Man … this is not going to be easy. I mean, how do you say goodbye to family?
How is it even possible to put into words the amount of admiration and respect and love that I have for an entire city, a place that has truly become ... home.
St. Louis really was a perfect fit for Alissa and me. You really did welcome us with open arms. And as a couple, we jumped in with both feet because we wanted to do as much as we could for this town that had invited us in with such kindness and care. We fell in love with this city right from the very start.
And, man, the people! You guys! All of St. Louis. Everyone who’s shown us love over these past 10 years. It’s impossible to fully express my gratitude for how awesome you guys treated me. And I know that my parents, my entire family, really, everyone in my hometown back in Hawaii, they’re all so appreciative and grateful, too.
Because, at the end of the day, this city, this community, this special particular place in the world, you guys … you transformed me from a boy to a man.
When I got drafted, I couldn’t even point to St. Louis on a map. I’d only seen Busch Stadium in video games. That was it.
Then, two years later, I’m suiting up and jogging onto the field there. Looking out at that Arch, and that sea of red….
It took my breath away.
There was just this absolute beauty to everything about it. A specialness. To this day, it still gives me goosebumps.
And now, almost a decade later, this place that I couldn’t find on a map, that I knew nothing about, this city is.…
There’s no other way to put it. This is home for me. And, you guys ... you’re my people.
During the games, you’re second to none. Obviously. Everybody knows that. But, for me, you know what was even cooler? Everything about this community off the field, and the amazing people here — not because you’re great fans, I’m not even talking about baseball, I’m talking about ... the people. You guys!
You embraced me 100%. You totally had my back. You supported me unconditionally — in good times and in bad. Even when I messed up, you made sure I knew you’d always be there for me, and that you were still rooting for me just as hard as ever.
That let me know it wasn’t just a team I was playing for, or some random fans ... it was family. Like, truly family. People who cared about me, and who I cared about right back.
I’ve made so many friends here. So many memories. Too many to count. But there’s one in particular....
That walk-off in the 2014 playoffs. Man ... huge game, bottom of the ninth, everyone’s on pins and needles, what’s the kid gonna do ... I feel like that’s something a whole bunch of us will never forget, right? I was still so young then, still kind of getting my feet wet. And the previous year my playoff experience was just beyond rough. So to come back up and do something like that for our fans, for you guys....
Just super special.
I got to celebrate with the guys who really grew me in this game. I got to have my jersey ripped off me and all that. But the coolest thing for me was that ... I was able to bring some real joy into the lives of people I truly cared about.
Everybody was super pumped — from the fans, to everyone on social, my teammates, the owners, everyone. Everyone was so proud of me that night. But, me? Me? I was just proud because I did that for St. Louis.
I was proud because I made you all happy.
Because, for real, this place … for me this was never just some town where I was playing baseball games.
This was home. You guys are family.
And I just really hope that you know that I always gave you guys everything I had.
I hope you remember me as someone who never left anything out on the field. Who was always trying to do something special to make you happy.
I may have gotten punched in the mouth a few times over the years, but hopefully you’ll remember me for getting right back up and working twice as hard to be the best player I could be for you all.
In the end….
I just hope that I made you proud.