Originally published Jan. 18, 2022 by silive.com.

By Nick Regina

Amid a national teacher shortage due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a Major League Baseball player is stepping up to the plate to fill the vacancy in one local classroom.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader would typically be gearing up for spring training this time of year, but is instead filling in as a physical education instructor at a local Missouri elementary school.

As the MLB lockout wages on, the 27-year-old Bronxville, NY native is technically out of a baseball job (for the time being) -- but he kept in shape last week while serving as a substitute at Meramec Elementary in Clayton, MO, a short drive from the currently unoccupied Busch Stadium.

In fact, the five-year pro found his new gig a bit more equable than his usual day job -- in which he patrols the spacious outfield greens at Busch as a Gold Glove center fielder. Nevertheless, he doesn’t plan on jettisoning his baseball uniform and spikes anytime soon.

“Definitely not going to have a career change,” Bader joked to KSDK in Missouri. “It was nice though to be in St. Louis and not have to worry about which righty throwing 100 was trying to take my lunch that day.”

After class, Mr. Bader even signed autographs for students.

School principal Patrick Fisher lauded the sweet-swinging slugger for his efforts in lifting the school’s spirits during an otherwise difficult period.

“There wasn’t a hesitation from him just to hop right in and get in there and mix it with the kids,” Fisher told KSDK. “We introduced him as a sub, or a guest teacher, and so they were all, like, wearing masks and he didn’t have a uniform. It was like, ‘wait a second, who is this? What’s going on?’”

“It was really just a way to boost morale for the kids, to have a lot of fun and make some memories,” he added.

Fisher also commended Bader’s volunteerism and called on others around the country to take up his cause.

“I just want to encourage anyone else to reach out to their local schools and see what they can do to help out, because it’s a widespread issue,” Fisher said.

As for Bader, he hopes to hit the field soon -- but only time will tell when MLB and its players will end the ongoing lockout. In the meantime, he has a cushy gig awaiting him at Meramec Elementary.

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