The St. Louis Cardinals have accepted the Pacific PYA into its Red Bird Rookie program.

Bret Rossomanno, PYA director, made the announcement at the Dec. 21 board of aldermen meeting, saying being in the elite league will make a great impact on the PYA's youngest players.

"This means free baseball for T-ball-age children and 8-year-old children, Rossomanno said. "Among the benefits are equipment, uniforms and baseballs provided by the Cardinals."

Acceptance in the league is a milestone in the life of the local Little League baseball program. It was achieved by lots of people working together, Rossomanno said.

Participants were Stephen Flannery III and the Pacific Park Poard, as well as Tim Baker, Sheila Steelman and Nettie Painter, who brought the idea to Pacific for their support.

The Red Bird Rookie program goes beyond the ballfield.

"This is about the development of the child," Rossomanno said. "Our coaches will attend three days of coaches clinics to help them teach children proper fundamentals of baseball."

The city of Pacific has agreed to build a vehicle bridge across Brush Creek and public restrooms near new ballfields that the PYA is constructing.

"We hope to see those in place when our seasons starts April 1," Rossomanno said.

Mayor Herb Adams credited Painter, a longtime Busch Stadium volunteer, with bringing the Red Bird Rookie Program to Pacific.

"One evening I was on my back porch and Nettie came to the door and wanted to speak to me," Adams said. "She told about a program that she saw, the Cardinal Care program. When she explained it to me she was so excited.

"Many would have said she was nuts, that there was no way Pacific would be selected by the St. Louis Cardinals," Adams said. "I can tell you that this whole project started with excitement, with believing in something. I sent her to Tim (Baker) knowing that he would know what to do."

Baker contact Rossomanno, who in turn went to the PYA board.

Adams said he continues to challenge Pacific residents to think outside the box to get things done.

"There are better things out there. It can happen for us," Adams said.

As a Red Bird Rookie team, Pacific PYA joins 20 leagues, serving nearly 4,000 kids in the St. Louis Metro area, and parts of rural Missouri and Illinois.

Cardinals Care has distributed more than $14 million to support organizations in and around St. Louis since its inception in 1997.