Remarks at the Mathews-Dickey Boys' Club in St. Louis, Missouri

July 22, 1982

The President. Mr. Mathews, Mr. Ballantine, I want you to know it's a real pleasure for me to be here with you this afternoon.

This is a beautiful facility. You and your community should be very proud of it. With the inspiration and dedication of Martin Mathews, Hubert Dickey Ballantine, and others who devoted so much time and energy, you and your neighbors, local government, and businesses have moved this club from the shade of a convenient tree to a storefront and now to this multipurpose and multimillion-dollar, magnificent building. My hat is off to you. And as your project has grown, corporations based here and around the country, companies like Monsanto, Anheuser-Busch, and Emerson Electric have joined your effort.

Enrollment has grown from, I understand, 30 to more than 2,000 boys and girls and has served more than 30,000 St. Louis young people. Many of you, I know, participate in the Earn and Learn program and teach yourselves the meaning of leadership and responsibility, often earning your own club dues. This club is an exciting example of the private sector cooperation that I believe can renew the quality of life across America.

Bill Verity used to be a businessman, who's Chairman of what we call our Private Sector Initiatives Task Force, and he's leading an effort that we've started in Washington to encourage the private, public, and nonprivate sectors to work together in all our communities. I believe the idea's catching on.

Here, because of Mayor Schoemehl's leadership, the private sector will pick up the cost of Operation Bright Side that's a program to clean up the city while providing summer jobs for youth. I understand some Mathews-Dickey alumni are involved in that. The Ralston Purina Company, which sponsors eight youth jobs here at Mathews-Dickey, is also working with other nonprofit groups around the country in one of the Nation's most successful summer jobs for youth programs.

And today I received a telegram reporting similar achievements, believe it or not, in the Big Apple -- New York City. William Spencer of Citicorp wires that this year's New York City Partnership program, they call it there -- summer jobs for youth campaign -- has been able to generate 18,000 jobs for economically disadvantaged young people in that city. And already more than 12,000 have been placed in those jobs, and they're still proceeding to fill the other 6,000 jobs.

Your experience, that in New York, and other examples around the country, make it clear that we don't have to turn to the Federal Government to fill every need. Don't misunderstand -- government has a legitimate role in aiding citizens, people particularly who can turn nowhere else for support. Business, volunteer organizations, and our churches can't take over all of America's responsibilities. But our economy nearly foundered on the rocky misconception that government bore those responsibilities alone. And too many of us -- not these gentlemen here -- began saying, ``Well, let government do it instead of doing the things that we used to do for each other.''

All Americans share in these responsibilities, and we call on every resource, every strength, every bit of individual imagination to fulfill our obligations together.

I applaud the people of this city for making this tremendous success story possible. I wish all America could stand where I am now, looking out at all of you, you young people with your hopes, your dreams -- because of the cooperation of the people in this city, giving you a chance for a real and a bright and a prosperous future. I wish America, all of it, could see these positive, practical results of neighbor helping neighbor. And if they could, every American would be as convinced as I am that the people of this country are a good and giving people, capable of accomplishing great deeds.

As a matter of fact, I think I'll leave a note for future Presidents suggesting what to do when they need a little inspiration: Go to St. Louis. There's a spirit here that has caught our national imagination more than once. Countless tales of courage and generosity are told about this gateway to the West. My favorite happens to be about a young fellow, however, who was going the other way -- Charles Lindbergh. That's a little before your time. But he was a brave young aviator.

We called him Lucky Lindy. You can understand why, of course, when you stop to think that he flew a small, single-engine propeller plane -- no jets in those days -- the first time anyone had ever flown such a thing across the Atlantic Ocean. He made history. And he talked all the time as if his plane were his best friend. He called it the Spirit of St. Louis.

Well, as I look out here today, I understand the confidence that name and that spirit gave him. Yours is a thoroughly American city, and your can-do attitude, a deeply American spirit. From now on, I think I'll keep the spirit of St. Louis as my companion also.

You club members are also learning team spirit -- working individually and together for excellence. I'm sure that out of 65 baseball teams, there must be a few of you who dream of playing in the major leagues some day -- is that right? [Applause] You bet. And I understand that some of your alumni have made that also and are doing that.

I must admit, I was never a baseball player. My game was football. But I used to broadcast major league baseball -- I was just talking to some of the Cardinals who were here today and talking about it -- did it here in the Midwest, the home games of the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox. I have a lot of memories. The St. Louis Cardinals in those days were called the ``Gas House Gang'' -- Ducky Medwick and Leo Durocher and Dizzy Dean. I remember back when Bob Feller was just out of high school and starting with the Cleveland Indians -- Al Lyons. And a great Cub team with Gabby Hartnett and Billy Jurges and Billy Herman and so many others. And those names were all, I think before many of you were born.

But I had the privilege of broadcasting the Chicago Cubs one season when the only mathematical chance they had toward the end of the season to win the pennant was to win the last 21 games of the season. Couldn't drop a one. And they did it. It still stands in the record book as a baseball record. And I don't know why I brought that up, because they had to beat out the Cardinals to do it. [Laughter] Kind of tactless of me.

But in one of those games with the Cards -- I can't resist telling you a little story, a little reminiscence here. Billy Jurges of the Cubs was up at the plate. And I was broadcasting the game by telegraphic report. That meant I had a fellow sitting on the other side of a window with a telegraph key and headphones on, and he got it dot-and-dash, Morse code, from the ballpark. And I took the slip of paper, and I announced the play. And I'd see him start typing, and I'd start in with, ``The pitcher's out of the windup. Here comes the pitch,'' and fake this. And it'd say, ``S-1-C.'' And I'd say, ``And that's a called strike breaking over the outside corner into a batter that liked . . .'' and so forth and so on.

Well, this particular day, it was the Cubs and the Cards tied up, nothing and nothing in the ninth inning. Billy Jurges at bat. Dizzy Dean out on the mound. I saw Curley start typing. So, I figured the next play is coming, and so I had old Diz come out of his windup -- and Curley shaking his head ``no,'' and I didn't know what he meant. But he handed me the paper, and the paper says, ``The wire's gone dead.'' [Laughter] Well, I had a ball on the way to the plate. [Laughter] And I knew there was one thing you could say that never gets in the score book. So, I had Billy foul one off. [Laughter]

And then I thought, ninth inning and there's a half a dozen other announcers they can turn to to get the rest of this game if I tell them we'll play a little music while we fix the wire. So I didn't. I figured I'll have him foul another one off. And then he fouled one that missed a home run by a foot. And then he fouled one back to third base, and I described the kids that had a fight over the baseball. And he kept on fouling them until I was beginning to set a world record for a batter hitting successive fouls. [Laughter]

And finally, after about 12 minutes at the plate, I saw Curley start typing again, and he was nodding, ``yes.'' So, I started another ball on the way to the plate, and when he handed it to me, I started laughing. I could hardly say it. The message said, ``Billy popped out on the first ball pitched.'' [Laughter]

I don't suppose being in the business I'm in now I should ever tell you that I faked something out that way. [Laughter] But I've been a real ball fan ever since. So, it was a great treat when I was able to meet one of the recent additions to the Baseball Hall of Fame at the White House last year. One of the athletes who was there was once an ace pitcher for the Cardinals. You've probably heard of him. His name is Bob Gibson.

Well, during the '68 major league season, he held the batters who faced him to the lowest earned run average in modern baseball history. After the season, he opened the world series against the Detroit Tigers with 17 strike-outs in the game and a shut-out. And he pitched them to two victories in the world series. But he's another St. Louis success story.

His father was a millworker who died before he was born. His mother worked in a laundry to support her seven children. As a young boy, his brother encouraged him to take up baseball, and as a man he made his boyhood dreams come true. Now, they say that if you ask him, he'll attribute his success to a keen competitive drive and a motivation of financial reward. Well, that's all right. But those who know him attribute his success to the fact that he put his heart into his work. You know, he was working toward a dream and making it come true.

Once when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, speaking to a group of young people as I am now, he too spoke about dreams. He said one of the reasons the world gets better so slowly is that too many young people lose their dreams as they get older. In growing up, he said, they throw away their enthusiasms and grow away from their ideals. And he said, ``You ought to thank God . . . if, regardless of your years, you are young enough in spirit to dream dreams and see visions . . . .'' Hold fast to your dreams, he said, America needs them.

Now, the young people that he spoke to then have grandchildren now that are your age, and still we haven't achieved all our vision of what an America can be -- an America without poverty, without unemployment, free of class struggles, and in a world at peace. We've done a lot. I think we've accomplished much. But we have a lot yet to do.

And I think that the Mathews-Dickey Boys' Club is full of youthful dreams. And if you can hold on to the ideals of your youth, neighbor keeps helping neighbor not only here but around the country, then together we'll renew the spirit that made this country great and makes our dreams come true.

One of the great pleasures of being President is the ability to honor individual Americans whose spirit and sacrifice have bettered the lives of their fellow citizens. I believe this may be a surprise, but it's my privilege today to present individual awards to two outstanding citizens that you all know very well.

It is with great respect and admiration that I award Martin Mathews and Hubert Dickey Ballantine the Presidential Citizens Medals for outstanding service that they have given to this community, to St. Louis, and to the United States of America. And it reads -- [applause] -- may I -- let me just read the citation. They are -- I will read one. They are both the same except for the names on them being different.

``The President of the United States of America awards the Presidential Citizens Medal to Martin Mathews'' -- and the other certificate will read ``to Mr. Dickey Ballantine.'' ``The good works of Martin Mathews flow as deeply through the city of St. Louis as the Mississippi River itself. His inspiring contribution to bettering the lives of inner-city youth is a shining example of the power of good.''

Mr. Mathews. I would like to take this time to say welcome, Mr. President, to St. Louis, Missouri, and let's give him a St. Louis welcome.

Mr. Ballantine. Today really is a great day. It's one of the biggest days in my life, and I sure have enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed the personal contact with the President of the United States. And I say God bless America, and God bless him in his work.

The President. I thank you all for being here today.

Carlos Belton. Mr. President, on behalf of the Mathews-Dickey Boys' Club, we would like to present these gifts to you. And I hope that you enjoy your stay.

The President. I just want you to know, I've just given up football. I'm a ballplayer now. Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:15 p.m. in the boys' club gymnasium. He received a Mathews-Dickey T-shirt and baseball cap from the captain of the boys' club team.

Earlier, the President had lunch with the board of directors of the boys' club.

Following his appearance at the boys' club, the President attended a fundraising reception for Eureka College at the home of Roy Pfautch. He then went to the Marriott Pavilion Hotel.