ELLISVILLE, MO. - “It’s nice to see him in the headlines again today on the sports page.”
Joan Voit doesn’t get very far these days without someone either stopping to talk with her or congratulate her, on her grandson Luke Voit’s most recent success in the big-leagues.
“After he hit his first home run I walked into the dining room and they stood up and applauded," said Joan Voit.
Like any proud grandmother, Joan boasts pictures of Luke wherever and whenever she can. The friends at her independent living facility even jokingly refer to the collection outside of her door as a “shrine” -- which has grown immensely over the past two weeks.
“There are many people here that have not really been interested in baseball and now they’re watching it," she added. "You know, 'What’s Luke done? Is he playing today?' Or whatever. Which has given us a little bit of spirit here, which I think is kind of cool.”
The hometown boy, who played at Lafayette High School, has lifted the spirits of all Cardinal nation with his play since being called up on June 25th and not just because of his power at the plate, but because of his attitude when he steps up to it.
“I wasn’t there for the first home run, but when he came up to bat he was smiling. He’s always smiling. And he got up there and he’s standing with the bat and I thought, 'You look like the Cheshire Cat. What are you going to do?' And that’s when he smacked it," as she smiled.
Through 11 games with the Cardinals Voit has hit two home runs, with number two holding the most significance and that’s because yesterday against the Marlins he crushed the ball 446-feet into Big Mac Land. A place made famous by his former idol, Mark McGwire.
“When he hit that in there yesterday, I thought you got it Luke," with another smile across her face.
Voit is certainly red-hot right now, hitting .333 and slugging .704 in his 11 games, but that wasn’t always the case for the 26-year-old, which is why Grandma Joan decided to give him an incentive.
“Last year he was in a slump and he was trying and trying and I said to him, 'Ok, if you get a home run I’ll pay you 25 bucks.' "That was the wrong thing to do because he started hitting home runs.”
And if 25 dollars a home run isn’t enough of an incentive, Voit also gets paid one dollar per hit, thanks to Grandma Joan’s lifelong friend Eveleth. Every morning when the box score comes out in the paper from the game the night before she circle’s Voit’s name to keep track.
"I have the same emotions as she does. I'm thrilled to death," said Eveleth.
Grandma Joan doesn’t know how long Voit’s time in the majors will last, but she does know this.
"The greatest ride ever. When I found out he was coming I cried," as tears started to come to her eyes again. "It's just been an exciting time and so much for him. I mean that's what I care about, is him."
Grandma Joan also wanted to make sure that everyone is aware that she's proud of all of her grandchildren, not just Luke. He just happens to be the one in the spotlight right now.
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